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“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
– Anne Lamott
Have you taken time to care for yourself lately?
I bet you weren't expecting such a question, were you?
I mean, we're women, right? We're too busy for that sort of thing. We have diapers to change, little noses and sticky hands to wipe, toddlers to chase, teenagers to chauffeur to and from school, sporting events and social and extra-curricular activities, errands to run, laundry to wash, fold and put away, meals to prep and cook, households to manage, jobs with deadlines to meet, home-based businesses to run, husband's to satisfy; the list goes on and on. We just don't have the time to indulge in such things as champagne, pedicures, massages and bubble baths.
Can I get an Amen sisters?
However, if you are not making regular self-care a top priority, you could be causing more harm to yourself and your marriage and family than you realize.
As women, our own self-care is often our last priority if it's a priority at all. It's so easy for us to get caught up in our roles as wives and mothers that we often become consumed with the often overwhelming demands of our daily lives. We can hardly imagine sparing five minutes to breathe let alone an hour to unwind and totally RELAX. In our fast-paced, high-stress world, forgetting to stop and take time to care for our own needs can leave us feeling exhausted, burned out and even resentful of our husbands and children.
Let's face it, ladies, when we're feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, we become irritable and grumpy. When our own tanks are empty and we are feeling depleted, we are no longer able to give the very best of ourselves to our husbands and children. We often respond harshly out of frustration and exhaustion -- sometimes snapping or yelling. We don't mean to of course -- it just happens, almost as if we are on cruise control. We may even neglect our own self-care so much that we find ourselves succumbing to more frequent colds and viruses as our chronically stressed-out and over-burdened bodies natural defenses become weakened. That is why it is crucial to not only our own personal health and well-being but also for the overall health and well-being of our marriage and family.
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Like most women, my own self-care was never on my to-do list. I felt selfish and guilty whenever I felt tired and needed some time to just relax, BREATHE, take a hot bubble bath or go for drive ALONE. But now, I am learning that I cannot care for my husband and family -- and give them my all until I have made the time to care for myself, replenish and rejuvenate first. It's like trying to draw water from an empty well. The bucket will always come back empty.
According to the National Institute of Health, self-care is defined, in part, as “positive steps taken by individuals to either prevent disease or promote general health status through health promotion or lifestyle modification.”
Therefore, self-care is basically any action you can take that helps you feel better mentally and physically.
Here are 8 things that I have found to be critical in my daily self-care practices if I want to be at my very best:
- Unplug. We live in a noisy and disconnected world. Technology has taken over our lives and distractions are everywhere -- and usually right in front of us in the form of tiny screens found in the palm of our hand at any given moment. Take an hour each day to unplug and unwind. Turn off ALL electronic devices and free yourself from the constant demands of entertainment, social media and email. Take this time to reconnect with yourself, your husband, and your children. (I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. ~1 Corinthians 7:35~)
- Watch Less T.V. Did you know that in the United States, Americans view an average of 5 hours of T.V EACH DAY? In our modern, high-tech world, television screens are EVERYWHERE. It's impossible to escape them, or so it seems. From fast food chains to fine dining establishments and billboards, it's hard not to become distracted by the latest high-speed chase or sporting event. However, too much distraction from T.V. can become habit forming and addictive robbing you of precious family time and social interaction. Goals and motivation often fly out the window as does conversation. Our society has taught us to detach from ourselves and our lives, forgetting about our own reality as we obsessively fixate our thoughts on the latest "reality show" mindlessly numbing ourselves as we binge on Netflix and microwave popcorn. I personally feel that T.V viewing should be limited to family movie nights and no more than 2 hours per week. (No temptation has overtaken you that is unusual for human beings. But God is faithful, and he will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength. Instead, along with the temptation he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13~)
- Stop Over-Thinking. This is a tough one for me, as I'm sure it is for many of us. You don’t need to have the answers to all of life’s questions. Life is a journey of discovery -- an adventure meant to be enjoyed, not just endured. Over-thinking it all can get you into serious trouble. When we get stuck in our heads and are constantly over-thinking, we miss out on the joy of the journey. So, sister, do yourself a favor and take a few minutes each day to clear your mind and take it all in with grace. Breathe. Enjoy the journey. When you do you will find that grace will lead you in the right direction and you will have more peace. (Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~Philippians 4:8~)
- Be Still. In today's rushed, over-stimulated society, it's difficult to just be still. To be still, we must be intentional. To do this, find a quiet place – it could be a park, the woods, or even your kitchen table – and just sit. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and exhale. Listen to the sound of the wind as it rustles the leaves on the trees. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Whisper a quiet prayer to your heavenly Father. Appreciate the stillness and the peace. (Be still and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10~)
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. Comparing yourself to others will only leave you feeling inadequate and insecure opening yourself up to envy, jealousy and self-loathing. It will rob you of appreciation for your own beauty and your abilities. Though we are all created in the image and likeness of God, each of us has been blessed with different bodies, minds, and abilities. We each have our own unique story to tell with unique triumphs and failures. (For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. ~James 3:16~)
- Stop Being a Doormat. Being kind-hearted is a good thing. Most of the time. However, our kind and giving nature can easily be taken for granted and taken advantage of if we are not careful. Oftentimes, we can find ourselves having to do far too much than we should for certain people in our lives. This leaves us feeling used, overwhelmed and resentful. Being a doormat disempowers you, robbing you of your voice and sense of self. Be strong in who you are and always be kind-hearted and giving of yourself, but don’t let people walk all over you. (If you let people treat you like a doormat, you'll be quite forgotten in the end. ~Proverbs: 29:21~)
- Forgive. Forgiveness is our most powerful ally. When you chose to forgive the people in your life who have wronged you and forgive yourself for your own mistakes and failures you are freeing yourself from pain, anger, resentment, bitterness, and sickness. Choosing to hold onto the toxicity of unforgiveness hurts no one other than yourself. It is like drinking poison and expecting the person who has wronged you to die. This is clearly not going to work. The person who has wronged you lives on completely unaffected by the bitter poison you continue to drink. However, you become sicker and sicker with bitterness and hatred and you continue to poison yourself drinking from the well of unforgiveness. (For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~Matthew 6:14-15~)
- Be Yourself. Just be You -- your totally awesome and authentic self. You are Amazing. You are Precious. You are Beautiful. You are Loved. You are Enough. You are Worthy. (But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. ~1 Samuel 16:7~)
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” – 3 John 1:2 NIV
It is my hope that by implementing these critical self-care habits that you will enjoy a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.