Self Care Is Not A Luxury
There is always a price to pay
The last year and a half has been a sprint. I’ve been working 24/7 on the three (actually 15) new courses, the seasonal Classic Wardrobe Guides, a cross-country move, getting six kids adjusted to a new life, new home renovations, a water leak that meant moving out of our new house for five weeks, a death in the family, illness, hormone replacement therapy, and that’s on top of the same chaos and uncertainty everyone else in the world is going through.
Some of them great things, some of them terrible things, some of them outside of my control, many of them my own doing, most of them happening simultaneously, and all of them a big deal on their own. In my usual determination to do everything, be everything, and have everything, I took on way too much and took no time to care for my own needs.
I am threadbare right now, and it didn’t have to be this way. I CHOSE to over extend myself. I CHOSE not to make myself a priority. I CHOSE where I am right now. And now I am CHOOSING to make it right. Is this the first time I’ve made these mistakes? Sadly, no. But hopefully I’m learning.
I had an entirely different post scheduled for today, but I felt so strongly that I needed to share this as a commitment to myself, and hopefully it will help some of you as well. I am returning to my habits of self care.
This article and the video below are taken from the Stunning Style Weekly Style Snack! Join us Wednesdays at 1pm ET on the Stunning Style Facebook page or the FREE Capsule Wardrobes for Classic Style Facebook Group.
what does self care look like?
Truthfully, it looks different for everyone. I’ve read other posts like this, and sometimes I think, “Yes! That would help me!” and sometimes I think, “That would add to my pain.” This isn’t your typical list of bubble baths and lunch with friends (although those can be great options!). We are getting down to the fundamentals of self-care, and I hope as you read this you can take the helpful pieces and leave what won’t serve you.
Wear What You Are Drawn To
I am a cross between Minimal Classic and Edgy Classic (you can read more about the other Classic Style Twists here). It really depends on the day. For the last 9 months I NEEDED black clothes and stabby accessories. I didn’t want any color, not even white to lighten it up a bit. Navy and espresso brown also worked for me.
I’ve also craved comfort, so nothing restrictive. Does that mean I’m in yoga pants and an old tee? No. My favorite jeans are plenty comfortable. For me comfort has more to do with being fuss-free. Nothing that I have to adjust, tug at, or secure.
What I find soothing won’t necessarily be soothing to you. If you put something on and feel that instant, “NO,” take it off. I’ve been wearing some color lately, now that things have finally calmed down, but today I’m back in a head-to-toe dark neutral outfit because I need it.
I NEEDED black year. Other times I NEED color. I also NEED triangles and pointy, sharp jewelry today. Other times I NEED no jewelry. Listen to those needs and honor them. Black and stabby might not do it for you. What does? This is what I’ve worn lately:
Move Your Body
Self care has to include caring for your physical body. For all of us that means some kind of exercise or movement. It might be a 30-minute walk, a run, yoga, Crossfit, Pilates, or swimming. I’ve really struggled with this one the last seven years due to serious health issues.
I was in such great shape 8 years ago, and so strong! But when I got pregnant with my last, my health started to spiral, and my doctor told me my exercise routine was literally killing me. I had to stop. A couple of years ago I discovered hot yoga, and it worked with my body’s needs and was amazing for my brain as well, but 18 months ago I sprained my ankle very badly, and it took a year for it to heal. By then we had moved and I was too busy and tired to find a new place to go. But really, when I’m so busy and so tired, I need it even more.
Next week we will talk about How to Start and Stick to an Exercise Routine, because I’m back on the exercise bandwagon as of a week ago. I confess I have whined, complained, and pouted about it because I am so frustrated by how weak I am right now. Starting over is the hardest part, but it’s AMAZING for my brain and soul. Of course always follow your doctor’s advice on physical activity.
Feed and Hydrate Your Body
Loving your body also means nourishing it. Over the last year I’ve been eating like a toddler. Instead of making myself a proper lunch, I was eating Totino’s pizzas every day. I lived on those in college, and I still love them the way I love blue box macaroni. They are nostalgic. But they do NOTHING to nourish my body. Sometimes I ate cheese and crackers with pepperoni. Also not my best option. Or I grabbed fast food, which is probably even worse. I convinced myself that my daily smoothie was making up for it, which isn’t true.
Honestly, I’m not motivated to make food for myself. My family? Yes. Me? No. But without good nutrients and food, our bodies won’t work properly. I was talking about this with a friend yesterday, and how important it is to keep the insides of our bodies clean. Am I going on some extreme whole foods kick? No. But I’m adding back things like…vegetables. Making sure I get enough protein in a day so I can build the muscle I’m after.
I always struggle to come up with an idea in the moment (and that’s how we landed on a freezer full of Totino’s), so I made a list of quick, easy, and nourishing meals I can feed myself.
And water. I love water, but for the last couple of weeks I’ve been perpetually dehydrated, and I knew it. I was too busy to go refill my water bottle, and last night I paid the price in the form of horrible foot cramps. Every time I drifted off, the cramping started, alternating feet for half the night. Usually one glass of water will stop it. I drank another 45 ounces of water by the time it finally stopped, but then I was up the rest of the night running to the bathroom. Let’s all drink water. Before bedtime (pauses for a long swig from my water bottle).
My brain never. shuts. up. It talks to me constantly, and it’s exhausting. About four years ago I realized that just being alone is not enough to replenish myself. Being alone and reading something educational, researching, and learning, are all still very active and just rev my brain up. Being alone and gardening (one of my very favorite things to do) isn’t restful to my body, even if it nourishes my soul.
The only ways I can make my brain and my body stop are to take 30 minutes to an hour alone in my room and read for pleasure or watch a show or movie I enjoy. I can’t learn a single thing from it or it doesn’t count.
The only way to make my brain be quiet is to give it something else to do, and for me it’s usually reading historical fiction novels (my favorite genre). It transports me somewhere else and I’m able to finally get out of my head.
I also sometimes take power naps or rest. I lie there with my eyes closed and listen to a guided meditation or just go to sleep. Or both. I set an alarm because if I sleep too long it makes me groggy, and knowing the alarm is set means I can let go and not worry about sleeping too long and being late picking up my kids from school.
Get Up and Get Dressed
I get up and get dressed every single day, and I always have, even when I had infant triplets. It is self care. It makes everything about my day go better. It’s a way loving yourself, showing up for yourself, and saying you are worth that time.
It doesn’t have to be a 2-hour ritual. I don’t have time for that (but if that is self care for you, then do it!). But it is probably the one self-care thing I have never negotiated on. I get dressed in 20 minutes every day, and knowing my style makes that easier than ever. If getting dressed is a struggle because you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, I have a masterclass called “Five Steps to Find the Right Clothes for You” that will get you started.
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Speaking of sleep, it’s my enemy, and my sleep is all over the place because of my hormones. The only way I can get more sleep is to go to bed earlier. So instead of being a hero (and by hero I mean martyr) and staying up too late doing too much, I am going back to making it a priority to start getting ready for bed at 9 (and drinking water so I can go to sleep).
I shower, which helps me relax and wash away the day, gives me another 20 minutes of alone time, and also helps me get ready in 20 minutes. I get in bed by 9:30, spend a few minutes planning out the next day and doing a brain dump, and try to have the lights out by 10.
Sleep is critical, and it helps no one if you are not getting enough rest. I have learned some things that have helped with my sleep a lot, and if you’d like a post about that, comment down below.
We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t draw from an empty well.” And the comparison to putting on your own oxygen mask first before you help others is another. It’s easy, especially as women, to take on the martyr role and care for everyone else’s needs before ours. It’s built into our societal expectations, and often celebrated, but it’s damaging.
I’m as guilty of it as anyone. It feels selfish to fill my well. But you know what’s selfish? Snapping at my kids because I’ve ignored my needs and I’m on empty. Growling at my husband because I didn’t take some time to replenish myself. What fills your personal well?
For me it’s being alone. 100% completely alone and unstimulated. I call it quiet time, and I’m happiest (and so is my family) when I do it every day. 30 minutes is my minimum. An hour is ideal. We are all busy. Every single one of us. But we have to make time to fill that well. What does that look like for you? Social time? Being outside? Alone time? A certain hobby? A bath at the end of the day?
I love to sit alone outside on my bench and close my eyes while the sun shines on my skin. Maybe add a great book. This doesn’t work in the winter, but I love it in the warmer months. That is my ideal scenario.
Get a Daily Dose of Positivity
I’ve talked many times about what an enormous impact listening to Brooke Castillo’s Life Coach School podcast has had on me. It really helps me get in a positive, empowered mindset for the day. I used to listen to her while I get ready or while I drive, but I got out of the habit when I stopped driving anywhere because no one could go anywhere.
During the 18 months of craziness, I also stopped listening because I thought one more input would fry my brain, but I realized I had spiraled into negative self-talk and doubt again, so I queued up and the next episode on my playlist was #17 How to Solve Any Problem. I listened to it again every day for 4 days in a row! It was JUST what I needed!
In my line of work it’s expected that I will be available 24/7. Answering emails, Facebook messages, and blog comments, engaging in the Facebook group, posting on the blog daily, sharing my life on social media 3 times a day, and more. I fell into this trap at first, but quickly decided this doesn’t work for me.
I set work hours for myself during the week, and for the most part, I take the weekend off to be with my family and live a life. Sharing my whole life with the internet isn’t something I’m comfortable with, so I don’t.
Rather than publishing 7 hastily-written posts every day of the week. I prefer to give you one thoughtful, well-written Style Snack a week. I don’t want to show up in your inbox or feed unless I have something worth reading or hearing.
how do I find time for self care? I'm so busy!
Girl, aren’t we all? Here’s how I do it:
Schedule It In
I mean that literally. On your calendar. I use my Google calendar. And from 1:45-2:45 is blocked off for quiet time. I have an alarm on my phone that reminds me it’s time. Are you familiar with the Stephen Covey analogy? You take a container (your day) and you have large rocks (your essential things), medium rocks (important things), and sand (everything else) that have to fit in that container.
If you put in the sand and small rocks first, the large rocks will never fit. So you schedule (put in) your essential items (the large rocks) in your calendar (the container) first. Then the important things (medium rocks), and then you pour in the everything else (sand) and it will fill the empty spaces that are left.
That self-care time needs to be one of your large rocks. It’s like putting yourself on the calendar. YOU ARE A PRIORITY. It’s as important as a doctor appointment. When I was in the stage of having little ones home all day, which only ended two weeks ago when my youngest started school all day, I handled it like this.
Put Down Your Phone
I guarantee if you spend less time on your phone you will be able to find 30 minutes to do something that will fill your well. I have this problem, and I speak from experience. I need a break from my phone. It’s as demanding as a toddler, and I’m working on trying get away from it, but simultaneously drawn to it.
It seems most of us feel obligated to be available constantly, and I’m just as guilty. Our phone is the burden we willingly carry. Put it down a few times a day and you will feel 10 pounds lighter. I leave mine on silent all the time, which is a nice break from the dings and notifications, but I might start leaving it in another room.
Stop saying yes to every request made of you. I didn’t take any outfit pictures for about six months this year because it was one thing too many. Something had to give, and that was one of the things.
I was recently asked to take dinner to a family with a new baby. Food is love in my family, and I usually say yes to something like this because I appreciated it so much in those first few weeks with a newborn.
Instead I was honest. “Usually I would love to, but I am struggling to find time to help my own kids this week, and I can’t do it. I’d love to help another time.” Yes, I felt guilty for saying no. Also, I felt tremendous relief for not piling one more thing on myself when I was already overloaded. Saying no was the right thing to do.
Be Honest With the People in Your Life
Have you ever talked to the important people in your life and explained your needs? Shared what would help you? Don’t assume they know; that’s not fair to them. If you don’t communicate what you need, they can’t support you.
I had an honest conversation with my husband a few years ago about my needs (once I figured them out), and now he is mindful of them as well. Often more than I am. When I get edgy or grouchy, he sends me to my room for a break, and I love him for it.
what didn't make the list?
Other people will list different ideas that work for them, but they don’t work for me. Manicures and pedicures are wonderful, but they are too social to be replenishing. I like massages, but they require me to leave the house and go somewhere. I LOVE having lunch or dinner with a dear friend, but that doesn’t fill my well in this way.
Socializing in general is draining to me, even when I love it. I had so much fun with family last week that my cheeks actually ache from smiling and laughing, but it was so draining at the same time that I need recovery time. I need to disengage for a while.
So what if I’m tired? So what if I’m a little grouchy? So what if I have the occasional meltdown? Don’t we all? This is a huge problem for many women. We are last on our own list, and we are sending a message to everyone around us that we should be last on their list too.
What we are teaching our kids and the other people in our lives is that ignoring their own needs is the right, even the noble, thing to do! We can treat ourselves better and be better examples.
It’s affecting our health! Many diseases and autoimmune disorders can be triggered by long-term chronic stress and fatigue. I have been struggling with adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues for YEARS because I pushed myself too hard for too long and ignored my own needs. I also have something called Caregiver’s Fatigue, and it’s a very common problem. I am paying a high price with my health for not taking care of myself.
Quality of life matters, and even if you have the best of everything and the greatest life, if are so exhausted and worn so thin that you can’t appreciate it, what value does it have?
I know you are as over-extended and tired as I am. There are so many aspects of our lives we don’t have a choice over, like traffic and taxes. Let’s commit to giving ourselves at least 30 minutes a day doing something that rejuvenates us. Let’s CHOOSE not to over extend ourselves. Let’s CHOOSE to make ourselves a priority. Let’s CHOOSE where we are today. Let’s CHOOSE to make it right.
Are you in? Share in the comments below what you are going to do to care for your needs, even one thing! I’ll start:
- I commit to working out three times a week.
- I commit to taking my quiet time each afternoon when the alarm goes off (instead of clicking dismiss and continuing to work at a break-neck speed) so I can be replenished when I pick up my kids from school and enjoy that time with them.
- I commit to feeding my body to fuel my body (and drink my water!).