(Updated 9th March 2020)
In my last post, I had highlighted the ways in which we unknowingly give away our POWER. Giving away your power robs you of your mental and emotional strength and the can prevent you from living the best life you were meant to live. It also affects the way we deal with our health issues since we may end up giving up the responsibilities that we have towards taking care of our bodies.
Feeling and being empowered is not the same thing as having complete control over life or the outcomes of the decisions we take. It is a fact that we cannot control our environment or other people (we can’t) at the same time, it is also a fact that we always have a CHOICE.
This ability to choose is with regards to our own behaviour and responses. We can choose how we respond to a situation and/or other people. We do this by paying attention to ourselves, our thoughts and our actions. In time this leads to an increase in our self- awareness. This kind of awareness forms the basis of any kind of self care practice.
I want you to consider the following-
What is self care really?
How is self care similar to an investment?
Most importantly, how do you find a version that works best for you?
For busy moms like you and me, selfcare is not an indulgence but a necessity. As parents, taking good care of ourselves and thereby setting a good example for our children is one of the best gifts we can give them. This is especially true for mothers as we are the primary role models for our daughters and will determine how they will value and take care of themselves in the future.
As women, we are natural givers and caretakers not only for our children but very often for our entire family. However, since most of us have been conditioned to believe that being kind and caring means putting yourself last, we do not know how to set boundaries to take care of ourselves. If we are to be good at taking care of others, we need to know how to take care of ourselves first. As I often joke with my clients, for many of us, even our dogs are higher in the list of things that we need to take care of than our own self!
There will definitely be situations where we will need to put our needs on hold for a while and take care of any crisis or emergency situation. This is what exactly I did when our daughter was extremely unwell and in the ICU for 3 weeks. I slept next to my then 7-year-old daughter on a chair for the entire duration while my husband and family took turns in the morning. I had no time to think or do anything else but to take care of her and pray that she would pull through those dark and harrowing times. However, once she had come back home I realised that if I did not take care of myself, I would not be able to take care of her the way she needed to be taken care of.
Luckily for most of us, for the most part of our lives, we are not in a crisis or an emergency type of situation. I want you to give yourself permission to start taking care of yourself from TODAY.
You know deep down inside what you need to do in order to take care of yourself. But if you do not prioritise it and schedule it such that it fits into your busy life, you will never find the time.
Self care is an investment that you make in yourself
There are many different ways that you can design your own self care routine.
However, it all starts with the realisation that
“YOU are the most important and worthwhile investment that you will make in your life”
Your children and your family will be much better served if you are taking good care of yourself, first. Once you assimilate this truth deep inside, you will find the will and the time to do what is needed. However, you will need to put in some time and effort to figure out the “self-investments” that you need to make so that it eventually pays off in the long run. It is also important not to get stuck in an “all or nothing” mindset where you end doing nothing at all.
You do NOT need a huge chunk of time to take care of yourself on a regular basis. You can do a lot even in 5 minutes- calming yoga poses, stretches, deep breathing, listening to uplifting/calming music, indulging in a hobby, reading and many more.
Find a few things that work for you and break them down into smaller pieces that you can do in every day. The key is to incorporate them into your daily routine with as less disruption as possible. What I find (and research shows) that having a daily morning and evening routine really helps in this regard.
You can read more about morning routine this in a post I have written earlier on this topic.
Give yourself permission
Give yourself permission to….
(chose one or more from the list below)
- Move your body every day- find a physical activity that you really like and schedule a time to do it regularly. It does not really matter what you do (swimming, running, jogging, yoga, aerobics), it matters that you DO IT.
- Relax by listening to music or reading a book
- Get a massage done on a regular basis
- Write in a journal or indulge in some other form of self expression
- Learn a new hobby or indulge in an existing one
- Connect with others regularly and maintain meaningful relationships
- Set aside a daily QUIET time for some kind of self reflection
- PLAY- with your children, pets, by yourself or any other activity that will bring you joy
Give yourself permission to try out what works for you and what does not. Give yourself permission to fail and to put yourself first. Do this even though it might feel really uncomfortable at times. Do this even if you feel guilty at times like I do. Even then.
You will soon realise that when you start taking care of yourself deeply and intentionally, you start making choices free of guilt and obligation. As a result, you may also find that you are able to be there for yourself and others from a place of strength and freedom.
I simply loved this quote from Mantra Magazine that I came across the other day-
“The woman you’re becoming will cost you people, relationships, spaces and material things. CHOOSE HER over EVERYTHING”