There isn’t one of us who doesn’t sometimes need a kind word, just a little word to lift us up when we’re down, or a smile or two to brighten our day, and help us through. We need a word of encouragement to remind us that a bad day doesn’t make for a bad week, or a bad month, it’s just a bad day and tomorrow it’ll be gone and we can start afresh.
So here’s our Encourager of the month to do just that. To remind us that at any point in this game of life we can redefine our lives. We might be stuck in the mud, but we can still look up and see the stars.
Meet Poppy Marler of Facing40.com. who began a new journey, when she decided to face 40 head on.
Take it away Poppy.
When I was a young mother, I completely lost myself. Like so many other new mothers, I was so in love with my child and hyper-focused on her care, I put my own life on hold. I neglected old friendships or droned on to my childless friends with incessant stories of first smiles, first steps, and potty training. On the rare occasion I’d find myself in a social situation, I didn’t add anything to the conversation that had to do with me. Sure, my kid was an extension of me, but I had put my needs on the back burner.
I didn’t care that I had gained weight or no longer participated in group exercise classes. It didn’t bother me that I would go days without talking to another adult. The fissures starting in my marriage weren’t clear to me at all. I needed to move out of La-La land.
The realization I had no life outside of my child was gradual. It wasn’t a glance in the mirror of a person I didn’t recognize or even a profound unhappiness. I had dug myself halfway out before I truly realized the disservice I was doing to myself.
My path from selflessness to self preservation wasn’t a sprint. I started small with the encouragement of a dear friend who seemed to have mastered the motherhood thing. She knew what I know now; taking care of my own needs is essential to creating a better caretaker and ultimately happier person.
Older and wiser now, I see this happen to women all the time. While it is important to take your role as caretaker seriously, it is so important to take care of yourself, too. Side effects from self neglect include weight gain, depression, and outside relationship problems. There is a reason, in an airplane, you are instructed to put on your own oxygen mask before rendering assistance.
Taking steps to care for yourself every day is so important. The little things you do add up to big changes in attitude and perspective. I want to encourage everyone to take the time to take care for themselves.
Ways to Care for Yourself
Move your body in some way every single day. You don’t have to engage in a formal exercise plan and it doesn’t have to be strenuous to see benefits. Whether it’s dancing with your kids or a walk around the block, you can and should make time to move.
Wear a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps.
Break a sweat doing yard work.
Vigorous housework counts, too!
Wash your car the old fashioned way. You will double dip and get sunshine and exercise.
Take the stairs whenever possible
Park your car as far away from the entrance to your destination.
Nothing can beat that natural high of physical activity. When you do something active, notice the positive effect it has on your attitude and your life.
Eat 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies…even if you’re struggling with other aspects of your diet, make sure you get the nutrients you need from fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, if you eat enough healthy stuff, it will displace some of the room you have for junk.
Maintain relationships outside your family
Of course your family is your priority, but don’t underestimate the power of good friends. Just having someone to talk to about what you’re going through can help immensely.
Get enough sleep
If you don’t get enough sleep, the quality of your life suffers. Sleep is where your body recovers and repairs so do whatever it takes to make sure you get 7-8 hours. Avoid television as well as snacks high in fat and sugar before bed.
Get dressed every day
Shlepping around in sweats day in and day out is not good for anyone’s self esteem. When you look good, you feel good.
Maintain a positive attitude and surround yourself with others who do the same.
Have a hobby
Have an interest outside your home and family. Maintaining your individuality by doing things you enjoy is the key to maintaining yourself.
Spend some time alone
Even if it is just a bath with the door closed for 30 minutes. Make an appointment with yourself and keep it.
Ask for help
If you find yourself struggling, ask for help. We can’t do everything alone.
Learning to take care of your own needs isn’t selfish, it’s essential. It also makes you a better caretaker. Your health is your number one asset.
What’s non negotiable for you in the self care stakes? We’d love to hear how self care works in your world. Or does it? Let us know in the comments below.
As always your brilliance is appreciated and thanks for reading and sharing. You are loved.
Encourage one another
Love Elle[success] Poppy Marler is a writer, mother of 3 and fitness enthusiast. Her latest project, Facing 40, is a healthy lifestyle blog devoted to fun, fit, and fierce women. She might be a mid-pack runner, back of the pack swimmer, and a reluctant triathlete, but she is fitter at 40 than she was at 20.[/success]
30 thoughts on “Why Self Care Isn’t Selfish”
Thank you so much for having me.
Poppy thank you for sharing your sparkle and zest for life with us all. 🙂
For me I definitely need some me time. Like you said, as little as 30 mins will do it for me. If gives me time to relax and maintain my sanity.
I like your idea of getting dressed. I’ve thought of changing out of my pjs even if I have no plans to go out… just because really. I guess I just didn’t want to get used to not getting dressed.
Hi Lea, Poppy is so right, getting dressed feels so much better, although I will confess to some days lolling around longer than others! 🙂
Working from home I fall into the not getting dressed temptation still. Sometimes I have to force myself to and I’m always glad I did.
are you kidding me Poppy? I NEED to take my jammies off? Blah. Ok, I will try, cause you always have great advice. I’m not happy about it, but I’ll try it. I do have a fitbit! And my goal is 10k steps, I just haven’t worn it lately…yes I will put it on. I swear you wrote this post for me.
Yes, Vanita, in a way I did write it for you. You are the most classic case of self sacrifice I know. You work so hard for your family (and clients) without caring properly for yourself. I am glad, though, you retain your friendships because I don’t know what I’d do without you.
Hi Vanita…I bet just about everyone is saying that, cos it applies to most of us in one area or another. Does it make you feel better to know you’re not alone? 🙂
yes, yes i am. and on that note, i’m so happy to have both of you to encourage me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this lesson till after 50 … my kids were adults, I’d divorced an alcoholic husband, and felt completely lost as I had spent the past 30 years totally consumed in meeting the needs of others. I’d gotten an associate’s degree little by little, but classes were really easy for me and my focus was always entirely on family. I had no friends as I was always home to be the “referee” … only I didn’t realize THAT until after I left and being a “ref” wasn’t part of my life any more. My kids aren’t used to me doing anything for myself and “me” time is seen as selfish if they want to chat or hang out with mom … I was always there for them and the adjustment period is not an easy one for any of us. I work in a very small local business and have little contact with others during the day. A massage every 3 weeks is not a luxury … it’s a peaceful connection with the world outside of work and home and I’ve met some great people while I’m in the waiting room. I also re-discovered a peaceful respite in a cup of tea just before bed … made even better when I use pretty tea cups found at a yard sale. There is a balance in life and we often lose awareness of it. The middle of balance is a nice place to be.
It is so easy, especially for women, to sacrifice everything for our families. Your kids are so used to having you at their disposal I can see where they would take the situation for granted. I suppose this is why I fight so hard to retain a little autonomy outside of my family because I know one day (soon) they will leave and I don’t want to start from scratch. I think it is wonderful you treat yourself to a massage – you deserve it!
Hi Debi, I’m so with you on the nice cup of tea in a nice cup. I think there’s a few of us who could have learned these lessons a bit sooner. But better late than never applies here. Doesn’t it? 🙂
It’s so easy to fall into this. Good reminder to jump in and take care of your self without feeling guilty about it…
Hi Elaine, Poppy really set it out for us didn’t she? Just take care of yourself, and feel good about it in the process is a message for us all to pay attention to methinks. 🙂
So true, awesome, and uplifting! My kids are older and I still feel guilty sometimes for putting myself ahead of them but honestly sometimes I just need that!!
Hi Cher, it’s very habit forming this way of taking care of everyone first. Let’s face it for those of us with kids it was necessary in the beginning but the time comes when we have to wean ourselves out of this habit…at least a little. And no guilt allowed! 🙂
Hi Elle; thanks for sharing this helpful post and introducing us to poppy. I agree with everything she mentioned. for me I get at least 30 minutes of some form of exercise every day. Its usually riding my bike that doesn’t go anywhere. Some days I walk on a tread mill. but i always take my digital book player with me and listen to an uplifting or inspirational book while I’m working out. and i follow a pretty regular diet since having had gastric surgery. i eat four to five small meals a day with about half of it being protein a quarter vegetables or fruits and the other quarter whole grains. And be sure and drink lots of water. I use those flavor mixers so it tastes better and the calories are very low. also, cut down or eliminate cafine as cafine is a diuretic and flushers the water you are taking in. dehydration is not good for eating healthy. thanks again to both of you and take care, max
Hi Max, it sounds as if you take good care of yourself my friend, both physically and spiritually. Good for you and good for us, you’re helping make our world a better place. 🙂
This is great advice. For anyone, really. I do have to say that I think everyone almost HAS to go through that period of time when they’re buried by their kid. It just takes so much energy and time. And it’s a learning curve. Once you get your footing, it’s like then you can start to make the climb out.
Hi Tammy, good point and I like the way you put it, starting to make the climb out. It’s a hard habit to break. But then again they all take a bit of practice, 🙂
This is such great advice, Poppy. I work with parents whose kids are struggling and that is the message I continue to give – the importance of putting your “oxygen mask on first.” For all moms out there, being nurturing is wonderful, but unless you take care of yourself, you will not have as much to give. Great reminder!
Hi Cathy, no one knows better than you the struggle parents have to take care of themselves when up against the challenges of addiction. Talk about a doubly whammy. 🙂
While I’m always there for my family, I’ve also made it clear to them that I need a little “mommy time” every now and then. I work a full-time job with a 3-4 hour commute each day so time with my family and mommy time are at a premium.
I get up at 4am to make time for yoga and meditation. Everyone in my family understands how important this is for me. On the weekends the kids will usually join me for part of my practice so I’m hoping that rubs off on them.
I thought relaxing baths would be off limits until the kids were grown (they’re 4, 7 and 9) but I surprised myself – and my 7 year old daughter surprised me. One night she asked me to put the iPod player in the bathroom while she took a warm bath. She asked me to put on “water music” (relaxing music with sounds of water in the background). Then she asked me to turn down the lights. Now, she had never seen me do this before. I don’t think I had enjoyed a bath since before the first was born. After that, she has invited me to take a bath like her when she senses that I’m stressed.
I took her up on the offer one night and she made sure it was quiet and peaceful for me. The 4 year old wanted to get in the tub and play but I made it clear that this was quiet mommy time. So they laid out towels on the bathroom floor and lied down on them while I enjoyed my bath. It was so peaceful and relaxing.
Now I know that I can take this time for myself and that my children respect this time since I respect their needs for the same.
Everything we do as parents rubs off on our children. We’re constantly setting an example. Being respectful of each other’s needs to care for ourselves has become more the norm in our house simply because it’s how we choose to do things.
All of your ideas are wonderful Poppy!
Hi Paige, it’s so cool that you’ve got the kids to understand about mummy time, it’s a great lesson in boundaries and especially wonderful when they’re trying to help make it happen for you. So sweet. And so typical that they needed to be close to you so they lay on the floor next to you. Absolutely adorable. You made my day with this share. Thank you. 🙂
It’s a great pleasure to see you here.
I happen to agree with you about taking care of ourselves.That’s because I’m a firm believer of propagating happiness.And happiness can be only spread when you have enough of it yourself.Usually that happens to be the case with people who are well cared for.By themselves!
You’ve mentioned a slew of ideas to take care of ourselves;including healthy eating.Excellent ideas.All very effective, and workable too.
Hi Mona, Poppy was definitely a great reminder about our own self care. Too easy to forget in our ever so busyness of every day. 🙂
hi Poppy – an important post here. Often, we get so caught up with our day to day life and we focus on everything but ourselves – family, work, social commitments. Being more conscious of self care and carving out some time for ourselves each day is key to living a healthy and fulfilling life. Hobbies, sports, more alone time and healthier eating are some of the things I’m doing to have more self-care in my life.
Hi Vishnu, thanks for stopping by. Poppy reminded us all about taking better care of ourselves. 🙂
OK this is good advice. And seemingly simple. Thanks for reminding us of the positive things in life that make such a difference!
Hi Andrea welcome to the conversation. You’re dead right, it is simple, but for most of us not easy. We’re so caught up in old habits of thinking and ways of being that unless we’re really really determined, chances are high that we fall back into our old ways. Sad though that this. The good news is that tomorrow is always a fresh day and a fresh beginning. 🙂