By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
We hear it everywhere but do we really understand what it’s all about?
Self-Care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, but, unfortunately, it is often the most neglected. I get it; finding “me-time”, the often used phrase for self-care, is usually last on our list as busy mom’s after taking care of everything and everyone else. Throw in that you might feel “me-time” or self-care is selfish...bring on the mom guilt.
Who has been on an airplane? Remember the part about the oxygen mask? In the event of a change in cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will release from the overhead bin; please put your mask on first before assisting other passengers. (Did I nail it or what?) There is a reason for this; if you do not have enough oxygen going to your cells, you are useless in helping other people. This is the perfect analogy, my busy mom tribe, for the mindset reset you need to have on self-care; to take care of others, you must first take care of yourself. Like oxygen is needed by your cells to function at their best, daily self-care is needed for you to function and live your best in life.
The basic definition of self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s health” but a better definition is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, particularly in times of stress”. Taking an active role in protecting our well-being; that powerfully illustrates the importance and necessity that self-care is. I would add that it is important to participate in daily self-care to benefit your whole self-mind, body, and soul-and not just in times of stress or disease when you are forced to take a break. Not to mention that taking care of yourself has profound effects on your mental and physical well-being; decreasing your stress can improve heart health and other disease processes, self-care can increase your feelings of gratitude and joy releasing those mood-elevating hormones called endorphins, and the list goes on.
This might surprise you as much as it surprised me; there are actually 5 categories that fall under self-care. The self-care categories are physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and professional. There is a good chance you are doing something in one or more of these categories that would classify as self-care but do not realize it. A simple mindset shift of recognizing you are doing something for yourself to actively take care of yourself might be all you need to start getting the benefits of self-care.
I can hear you all through my internet connection, “I get it. I get it. I need to take care of myself. But, what am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to do it? Where am I going to find the time?”.
Whoa, let’s put a hard stop on the limiting belief that you don’t have time for self-care. I am not suggesting you block several hours per day to dedicate to yourself; but, if you have the time and desire, go for it....this is a judge-free, guilt-free zone. When something is important, time can always be found. So step one, you need to realize that taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your family, and all the commitments you have in your life. Self-care puts you on the path to feeling your best, resulting in being your best so you can give your best.
Step two is to think about what kinds of things make you feel recharged, happy, joyful, and content. This, dear frazzled moms, is your self-care list. This list is as individual as you are; what recharges you may completely stress someone else out. Want a great example? Jackie loves to scrapbook and craft; she makes the time to go on scrapbook weekends with friends, too. I’m willing to bet this is one of her self-care recharge buttons. Me? Not so much; scrapbooking and crafting stresses me out a bit, therefore, it is not on my self-care list. As odd as it sounds, playing on my rec league women’s soccer team is one of the items on my self-care bucket list; I love soccer, and I make time for this even if it means I need a babysitter. It's that important; that's putting self-care as a priority and fitting it in, no matter what.
Step three is recognizing that what you are doing is self-care. Remember when I said that you are already doing things that are self-care but aren’t recognizing it? This is what I am talking about. Anything you are doing to benefit your health? Self-care. Any boundaries in place for your workplace? Self-care. Reading or listening to a book that you enjoy? Self-care. See what I mean? You are already doing self-care. But, by recognizing that you are doing it to recharge yourself, for “me-time”, as self-care, that is the slight mindset shift you need to make. Why? This keeps you in the moment, allows you to recognize that you are actively doing something to take care of yourself, and allows you to tap into the full mental and physical benefits that self-care offers.
Final step, and this is the most important, like Nike says, "Just Do It". You need to make time every day to do something for yourself. You are worth it. You owe it to everyone in your life that you care for and everything in your life that you have made commitments to take care of yourself so you can be your very best.
Still need a few simple ideas? Check out our 30 Minute Mind-Body-Soul Jumpstart Tracker. These are 6 simple habits that definitely count as self-care!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.