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What is Self-Care? Why is it important?
If you googled “What is Self-Care” and ended up here, welcome. Thank you for choosing ME over the hundreds of others out there trying to explain what it is and why it’s important. I don’t have a fancy degree or any fun letters behind my name. I’m just someone who is self-taught and implements things I find that fit my life.
As a woman, a mother and a wife, I know I don’t do nearly enough for myself. I never love myself as much as I give love freely to others. I’m terrible at tending to my own needs first. Picture this, I’m that person on the airplane during the oxygen mask speech thinking, “but I need to save my kids first”. Why am I like this? I’ve no clue!
Thinking back many, many years, I realize I have always been this way. It wasn’t until my twins, were babies when I started realizing it. I literally do everything for everyone under this roof. I cook, I clean, I do laundry, I do all the shopping, I maintain our finances, I maintain our social calendar, I DO EVERYTHING. Who is doing anything for me? No one. I have to ask, “Can you do me a favor and fold those” or “Can you do me a favor and pick up some milk”…..why are these favors? Why are these MY jobs when we all live here and see what needs to be done? If I can see that we are out of something or need something done, why can’t anyone else? I guess they are waiting for me to tell them.
Insert eye roll. Isn’t that what most mother’s and wives do, spend their days telling people what to do?
When Things Changed
I quickly grew tired of the constant strain on me. I was always questioning myself, questioning myself to the point of anxiety. Am I doing this correctly, am I doing enough? The stress of trying to keep up took a huge toll on me. I was unhappy, I was short with people, I was always complaining on Facebook and to my friends. My husband never listened which made the pressure a thousand times worse. I started to realize that I too needed to be taken care of. I realized no one else was going to do it for me, I had to do it myself.
Things needed to change and they needed to start with me. The first thing I needed to do was stop making everyone else a priority over myself. As we all know, if Momma ain’t happy, no one is happy! I battle depression and at my lowest, my youngest kids were not around yet. I knew I couldn’t allow myself to get that low again because of them. Things changed when I started picking my battles.
Self-Care & Mental Health
Self-care has a HUGE part to play with your mental health. I’m not even kidding. You can not properly take care of anyone, even yourself, when you are miserable. You have to care enough to make the changes though. Give yourself a time-out in the middle of the day if it’s too much. Walk away, lock the door behind you and give yourself a 5 minute breather. I used to smoke, April 2018 was 4 years since I quit. That was my outlet for a while. We didn’t smoke inside the house so I would go outside for 5 minutes and have a smoke break. Starting projects around the house to have an outlet for my brain, I called them brain breaks, was always happening. I wasn’t thinking about anything else other than the project I was working on.
I was continually looking for a new skill or hobby to take up, which is what brought me back into the Direct Sales world. Not only that, it was a company all about self-care and pampering. It was ideal and came along at the exact moment I needed it. It was then that I realized that self-care was not self-indulgent but more self-respect. I had not really taken care of myself in a long time.
My Initial Idea Of Self-Care
I’ve always been pretty basic, I wear very little makeup and I do not follow fashion trends. Taking care of my skin was also something I never really did. I wasn’t really taught how! So to start, self-care for me initially meant a face mask every Thursday night while I watched my favorite TGIT Shondaland shows. It meant fun face wash & moisturizer and yummy hand cremes to make me feel good. Scents play a HUGE roll in my mood! Everything smelled amazing which was a bonus. I had been a consultant for Perfectly Posh for a while and their tag line was, “You Deserve It”. My mantra became, “I Deserve It” and I created a wonderful work from home business while doing the very basic things like showering and washing my face.
Business trips with Posh turned into amazing girl time with friends. I earned a couple of incentive trips, one to New York and one to St. Thomas. My Posh trips were business related but each one was well planned out with friends. It was our time to get together a couple of times a year at meetings and laugh our asses off. Stay up til the wee hours of the morning laughing at face swap videos, getting cut off by bartenders in different cities, playing Cards Against Humanity in the hotel bar, buying a crap ton of edibles and exploring a strange city at night. Some of the best times of my life I had with these women.
Planning girls nights out with my local girlfriends became an obsession. I’m addicted to live music and I love going to concerts, I made sure I got tickets to every concert I wanted to see. I had standing nail appointments every two weeks and hair appointments once a month. For a long time I thought, “Damn, am I high maintenance or what?” It didn’t matter. It felt good and I didn’t have to explain it to anyone as long as I was happy.
A New Outlook
My self-care for long time was an escape from my reality. During those trips, I was no one’s mom, or wife. There was no wiping asses or driving anyone to school or a sporting event. I was free to be me with my friends for 3-4 days. That was my form of self-care for a couple of years. While ultimately there is nothing wrong with escaping from reality, I had no real balance. I was “working” during the day while the kids were at school. Then I was “working” every evening, sitting at my desk for hours on end. I was overworking myself and I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted or expected. At any given time I would have 10 things going at once. I was stressing myself out trying every new thing that crossed my path.
There I was, trying to be 50 different things for every person in my life. I was literally burning myself out. There was no healthy work-life balance.
I started taking care of my health. I’ve never been a sickly person but I’ve had numerous female problems for the better part of 20 years, I’ve also had a chronic back issue since I was 21. I quit putting stuff off. If something was abnormal feeling, I made an appointment. Getting established with regular doctors was my goal. We’ve moved around a lot and I haven’t been good about keeping track of my medical records. Taking care of my health, and making it priority, was the start of my journey to take better care of my whole self. Massage Therapy was my most favorite appointment next to my hair appointment every single month!
I started cutting back the time spent at my desk. Realizing I was being mean to my kids when they would interrupt me, like I had some crazy deadline to make and their couple minutes of time they needed were going to kill me. Putting into perspective that the business I had built was no longer working for me, I was working for it and it wasn’t fun anymore. I was spending money to make money and I was doing everything I could to try to promote to the next level and motivate my team to build below me.
You can’t motivate someone to work, they will do it if and when they want. People who joined my team thought my success came easy and expected the same results without having to put in work. That’s NOT how direct sales works. It’s WORK and you must keep at it to be successful. I didn’t have it in me to keep pushing.
My Mental Health
Learning how to be mindful and learning to live in the moment was a huge turning point for me. Everything started to gain a new perspective. Breaking out of auto-pilot that I had been on for so many years was key to my self-care. I began to see the rut I had dug myself into and drowning was no longer an option. I’m a doer, a mover, I get shit done. Sitting idle is not my thing, I’m the furthest thing from lazy you will ever meet, it is just not the way I am wired.
Becoming mindful and changing the way I was living has given me all the tools I need to continue on my self-care journey.
Resting when I’m sick or taking a nap no longer comes with guilt of not getting housework done or making dinner. I’ve learned to pick my battles and let the rest of the shit just fall by the waist side. Making myself emotionally sick for years because of stress took its toll on me. I just quit allowing stress to ruin my days and cause me anxiety. Reminding myself that I can not control what other people think or do and realizing that it is really fucking OK to walk away from something if it doesn’t bring me joy. Self-care needs to refuel us, not deplete us.
It’s taken me close to 6 years to get to where I am today. This road has not been easy and the roller coaster of emotions has been less than stellar. I have lost friends and I have gained some. I’m real, I’m honest, I’m transparent, and that is how I take care of me on a daily basis. I love to laugh, I’m a good friend to those who are good to me. Learning how to care for myself has helped me realize how to care for others.
Self-Care takes practice, and looks different for everyone. The journey is so eye-opening and worth every ounce of anxiety encountered along the way! Promise.
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Here are two really great books that I highly recommend.