I keep seeing posts on Self Care…my only issue is that it’s so vague and general. Does it mean taking a shower? Getting a manicure? Taking a nap? For me it’s so much more than a good manicure and I LOVE a good manicure. I don’t do it very often, but even hubby knows how much I like to have my nails polished and looking good. I think we sometimes get too held up on ‘when you look good, you feel good’. Yes, I will agree, that when you take care of your outward appearance it really does help boost your mood sometimes. But there is only so much lipstick you can wear without people talking, and I’m here to tell you it doesn’t fix everything. No amount of moms’ night outs, vacations, date nights, girls weekends, lipstick or nail polish will take the place of actual real self care or what I would rather refer to as, self love. I also think it’s important that you understand that there is no one answer or thing or item that fits everyone, and we need to be OK with that. We are individuals…thus the self part. However, I do believe there are five areas that pertain to everyone.
Here are 5 must haves I include in my self care:
- Soul Care
- Mind Care
- Body Care
- Community Care
- Self Care Indulgences
Yeah, my number one is soul care, because we are souls with a body, not a body with a soul. If I don’t take care of my soul, when my body is done one day, what will be left of me? My soul care consists of creating a personal intimate relationship with Christ. I’ve always been a believer, but I have not always had a relationship with Christ. There is a difference. And just like personal relationships with people, I tend to mess this up too, but I’m committed to the journey. So how do I practice soul care? I teach my kids that your relationship with Christ, and people honestly, is like a fire, and if you don’t keep putting logs on it the fire will go out. All this ‘care’ no matter what category you put it under is the same- if you don’t seek it, nurture it, and aren’t obedient to it…it will all fade. We are individual beings and need to honor ourselves for who we are. To take care of my soul, I read the Bible (can always be more) to find out more about him, his expectations of me, and how to sit and be in his presence. I read a lot of things that inspire me to do more of the later, from fiction to non-fiction…I pray, a lot, wouldn’t say continuously although that in and of itself is a goal I have. I write scripture – I use the flip through method, I flip through my bible and start reading, I am always in awe of how God works, because no matter where I land and start reading it pertains to what is happening in my life at the time. I read until something big hits me and then I write it, nothing fancy, just notebook paper, but I write it, I have also found writing my prayers helps me stay focused too. I dig deeper and seek and search the answers to things that I don’t understand. I worship through music, through walking in this world taking notice of all his creation and reveling in the fact he created all this for my enjoyment, I give thanks. It is so important to me and who I am give thanks in all circumstances. That takes practice, and again something I am still working on.
Mind care…oh man, anyone else have a hard time focusing your mind? There is stuff flying at us faster than a space ship on a mission to Mars, and my kids are like, “haha, did you hear her say yes, when it wasn’t a yes or no question?” Yes, we tend to be distracted these days. So how exactly do I take care of my mind? I practice focusing on things that are true, noble, right, pure and lovely, thank you Philippians 4:8. I also practice self control and being present. One thing at a time, one minute at a time. As I write this my phone has lit up 20+ times with notifications, texts, missed calls, and emails…I will get to it later, not now. I watch programs that don’t get me all twisted up, I read books that inspire me to be all that God has called me to be. I have had a big struggle over the years with my mind, OCD thought patterns learned at a young age (so hard to break), focusing, and being present…sometimes I wish I was tiny and could walk around in my mind and just cut down the trees that aren’t producing good fruit anymore because I don’t need them…it doesn’t work that way. I have spent hours upon hours with a Christian counselor sorting through, retraining and working on focusing my mind…it’s not easy, but it is so incredibly important because it ties back into soul care. Our minds are so powerful, our thoughts about ourselves and others can be so destructive. I don’t watch the news because it makes it all worse for me…it’s all about finding out what works for you. I fill empty air with contemporary Christian music, empty hours with Christian fiction (besides Beverly Lewis’s Amish book series I LOVE Netta Jackson’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series), and uninterrupted conversations – eye to eye ones whenever possible. My mind needs clear uncluttered beautiful spaces…I try to create little pockets of this throughout my home and office. Our home is shy of 1800 square feet, with 6 people…yes, I try to create little pockets of sanity in it. I buy fresh flowers for my desk each week, cost $4. It calms my mind and soothes my soul. I have started cleaning out closets and spaces to simplify, for me it creates peace of mind.
Garbage in, garbage out…yes, that is how our bodies work. My oldest son despises the word temple when referring to your body…not sure why, quirky teenager…but that is what it is, God have us a temple to take care of, an image of himself, to take care of… 1 Corinthians 6:9 says this, Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself. I equate this like when we are pregnant, my body didn’t just belong to me, I had that baby to consider too with every action, everything I ate, drank, where I went, how I slept, it all was going to effect that baby. This is the same, God dwells in us through the Holy Spirit. For 10 years I felt sick almost every single day…for 10 years, and guess what? Everyone, every doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner and holistic healer told me the same thing…the tests are negative…most would jump for joy, I sat in my car and cried, because I couldn’t take it anymore. Last April I decided I had enough, I walked into a health care center and was all in, and when I say all in, mean 900% all in. That whole thing is another post, but I will say, I made my physical health a major priority, and thankfully have found healing. I eat clean, I was just cleared to start moderate exercise (who knew exercise isn’t always what our body needs?), and I get regular chiropractic care with massages. Sleep – it’s an on going joke with friends…’we better leave, it’s her bed time’…sleep and physical rest can be so hard, especially for moms of little ones. I have learned to listen to my body and give in to rest. If it’s going to bed at 8pm (typically the whole house is dark by 9 and everyone is in bed here), laying down at 1:30pm for 20 minutes or closing my eyes while waiting to pick up a child at school for 7 minutes. Our bodies heal and recover when we rest them, and they do it quickly given the chance. I only have this one body, I have so much I want to use it for, it is a must that I care for it properly.
Community care…say what?!? What on earth does that mean? For me it means surrounding myself with the right people. Ever hear the phrase, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’? We were meant to have community. Just because we are friends with someone doesn’t mean they are good for us though, and I have learned that time and again. I believe community starts at home, and while we don’t get to choose all those that dwell with us, we do get to choose how we serve them and love them. Outside of my home, I get to choose my church family, my friends, those I do business with (yes, you do even get to choose your job), and those I reach out to serve. I want to be around people who know more than me, who will lead me and my family in the right direction, who encourage and mentor us. I want to commune with people that believe in these 5 steps I’m listing, so they can hold me accountable. I get to choose my ‘village’ and over the past two years, I am thankful I finally realized that. I have friends who are in their late 50’s and early 60’s…I have friends in their mid 20’s…we choose to learn, encourage and uplift each other. But after God, my husband comes first, than the kids…and then everyone else…as in all self care, priorities are what count, not balance- trying to create balance will make you crazy- instead I set priorities. I’m being very intentional about serving my husband lately. It’s too easy to become complacent in serving our spouses, don’t let that happen. I am learning to serve my family joyfully in an effort to show them love and to learn how to serve my friends and community well.
OK OK, I know you want the secret to the perfect manicure as well…I can tell you this, I didn’t used to put any stock into quality personal care products. I have learned to, even though, yes they tend to be more expensive. I have found I use less and they last longer, so maybe not that much more than the store brand after all. I use products that are as simple as possible. I love bubble baths, polishing my nails, cosmetics… the list is long. I typically use two brands, I sell them both because I love them so much- Mary Kay for my skin care & cosmetics and Monat for my hair. Both are high quality products and I haven’t found anything that comes close. When I was first a stay at home mom, I would buy cosmetics at the grocery store, which was a change from my working days when I’d buy them at a department store. I thought if I lumped it into groceries hubby wouldn’t mind and hey, they were less expensive anyway. What I didn’t realize is that by doing that I was chipping away a little at who I was, what my value was. Seems a little deep over moisturizer I know, but in mind, I didn’t deserve it…I had kids and had to give everything to them…don’t fall into that trap! You do deserve it! You are equally important. There are some good drug store brands out there, and if that’s what you love go for it -like I said, there is not one way, but if it isn’t what you love, and doesn’t make you feel good, then save up, even if it’s for weeks and get the department store brand you love. Revamp your wardrobe seasonally, even if it’s just a new pair of earrings found on a clearance rack – make you a priority.
Again, this self care is all about YOU, and only YOU know what YOU need. For me some days I do my makeup, some days I don’t. Some days, I need pantyhose and a meeting with like minded business people…some days, I need no shower, my sweats and Netflix…but every day I need my soul, mind, body and community care. As I mentioned before, prioritize – my priorities are in the order I listed above. And yes, there is too much of a ‘good’ thing. When we use self care to escape reality, or try to cover up something deeper that’s going on. When we let become obsessed in one area and dismiss another…that doesn’t do you or anyone around you any good. And listen, I know time is hard, we all have the same 24 hours, how do you use yours? What can you strip away…and I’m not spending 2 hours each on these things daily, sometimes it’s 10 minutes each, other times I need 45 minutes with a devotional and my bible, other times it’s 6 minutes. If you have tiny ones, and they nap, take you time for the first 15 minutes, then get something done. I pray this has encouraged you to look a little deeper at your self care routine. I’d love to hear about your self care philosophies, please leave a comment below.
For more on self love, visit my friend Melanie over at Be Simply It. She has devoted her entire blog to self love, from the inside out.