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Emotional Health•Healing • 6 minutes to read
I was sitting at my daughter’s gymnastics practice last night, working on this exact blog, when the mom next to me struck up a conversation. We started talking about where our kids went to school and she mentioned she homeschools. I shared that I had homeschooled for a couple years and it’s a big commitment. She told me how her and her husband made an agreement for her to go out and walk their property when he’s home from work so she can get alone time. She then told me how she knows it’s selfish but she just needs 30 minutes where she isn’t taking care of anyone else. I laughed and told her about my blog and how caring for yourself is not selfish! She then gave me her blessing to use her as an example. So I did.
It is not selfish to set aside some time to show love and kindness to yourself!
So many people believe saying “no” to something in order to take care of their own needs or show love to themself is selfish. Self-care is self-kindness. When we take the time to take care of ourselves we are refreshed and recharged to love others well. If we take the time to do something for ourselves, but are flooded with guilt the entire time, we will not feel recharged.
I used to be this mom:
- Leaving Jon with his own kids so I could spend time with my girlfriends…guilt.
- Spending money on my hair or nails…guilt.
- Watching football all day Sunday instead of cleaning…guilt.
- Taking a day off work and resting when I’m sick…guilt.
- Saying “no” to a family event, work, or volunteer opportunity because I needed to leave one day a week without obligation…GUILT!
I’ve always felt guilty spending time or money on my hair and thought it was a frivolous thing that took resources and time away from my family. As a black woman, my hair can be more exhausting and time-consuming than a wild-child. You can read my blog Breaking Generational Curses With My Black Girl Hair – Pure Desire Ministries to hear the traumatic journey of getting comfortable in my own skin and with my hair.
Now I know: when I set aside the time and money to take care of myself, I feel ready to conquer the world! Or at least my house and inbox. I end up spending less time on my hair each day and I get to feel good about myself. I get to feel good that I’m not only a care-giver to others but it’s okay to care for myself as well. When I take care of myself, my positive attitude spills over to others.
We can be surrounded by guilt but Jesus tells us it’s okay to love ourselves.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.Mark 12:30-31
Sometimes it can be hard to see when we aren’t loving ourselves well. It usually takes people who love us and know our daily struggles to help us see that we need to take a moment to recharge.
I think we all need the reminder that even God rested.
I get it, we are busy. Our household has four kids, two working parents, and extracurricular activities 4-5 days a week. It’s easy to run on fumes. With my go-to bad behavior being anger, I had to learn to slow down and take breaks, otherwise I risked hurting others. When people would ask things of me, I would instantly get mad and offended; wondering why they couldn’t see how exhausted and busy I was. I don’t want to be that person who answers with “busy” every time someone asks me how I’m doing.
There was a time when I would get so bitter that “Jon could go to the gym but I couldn’t.” Nobody told me I couldn’t. I put expectations on myself that I needed to keep a spotless house, always have dinner hot and ready, and make sure not even one dirty sock was left in the laundry basket. I said this was an expectation I was trying to reach. If you know me, it’s definitely NOT what I was able to accomplish. But one day, when Jon was stopping at the gym before coming home, I realized I need to stop being resentful and follow his lead. He’s making his health a priority over an impossible-to-attain perfect household.
I can’t believe how hard it was for me to get over this mental block. Now that I allow myself time to exercise, I see it didn’t cause my house to fall apart and I feel much better–allowing my health to be as important as getting one more basket of laundry done. The laundry will always be there. We only get one body.
In each phase of my life, I’ve had to be creative with how to make time for self-care because we’ve been broke, we’ve been babysitter-less, we’ve been strapped for time, and we’ve been behind on projects; but there is always at least something we can do to recharge.
When my kids were toddlers I would steal 20 minutes once Jon got home. I would close my door, lay on my bed, and just breathe deeply with my eyes closed and nobody asking me for anything.
When I was homeschooling, I made sure to keep Sundays an obligation free day so my brain and body could do nothing. I found other ways to refuel my drained self without having to leave my house.
- Sitting on the porch with coffee
- Taking a bath
- Painting my nails
- Allowing myself 30 minutes to research whatever I wanted
- Working in the yard
When my kids started going to school, Jon and I would take one day of the week to have a daytime date.
So, how can you recharge?
Make a list of self-care options so there is always something you can do. Right now, if the weather is decent, I love taking a walk with just my husband when the work day ends. It’s a great way to transition my mindset from a working woman to a mom and wife. The exercise and fresh air are also recharging.
If it’s been a while since you’ve loved yourself, allow someone to help you see when you need to implement self-care. I’ve had to kick my husband out of the house to go do something he loves and I still need others to do this for me. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of our fast-paced life.
Allow someone to keep an eye on you and remind you when it’s time to give yourself a break.
Come up with a few options that don’t require money, babysitters, or other people so you can get a quick recharge when you need it.
Plan bigger breaks regularly so you have something to look forward to and aren’t waiting until your batteries have already run out.
Think about what you love doing (sports, crafting, going to the movies, hiking, coffee with friends) and get back into it.
We can’t love others well if we aren’t loving ourselves well. What is one thing you can do to show yourself kindness this week? Pick something doable and go for it. No excuses. You’re worth it!