I began my blog and wellness business to help moms/women manage the overwhelm, depression and anxiety. I wanted to help others combat negative thinking and learn to care for themselves – body, mind and heart. My goal was to encourage women everywhere to stop striving for perfection or outward approval and focus on their own happiness. The biggest part of that equation self-care.
Promotion of self-care is a viral trend now. We are seeing it everywhere: in the media, t-shirts, inspirational mugs, memes and videos.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
“Self-care is not selfish.”
“Become your best self.”
“Self-care is essential.”
“It starts with you.”
I am ecstatic that so many people are pushing the value of self-care and self-love. I love being part of the movement to be kind, positive and compassionate. To move away from negativity and the false ideal of perfection. I want SO much to create a world of women who value themselves so much that the future generations will never know the language of negative self-talk, bullying, discrimination, judgment or comparison.
Despite how daunting it is to try and make this world a reality, I am called to keep working toward this dream daily. I spout positive affirmations, help others find the silver lining in tough situations, share inspirational quotes, and most importantly, am working towards building a business devoted to making self-love and happiness the primary goal of “wellness.”
With all the negativity and pressures in our society, self-care has never been more important. Seeking peace and stress relief- both in our body and mind- can help give us strength to face the day. It also strengthens our immune system and supports the release of our “happy” hormones, improving our quality of life immensely.
I’m getting carried away. I don’t need to get into the details and science of how self-care positively affects us. Suffice it to say, the more we care for ourselves, the happier, healthier, and more enthusiastic we will be.
I know this is truth. I promote this truth. I preach this truth. But I am not living it.
I am a fraud. I am a big fat hypocrite!
I am tired. This is probably not news, because it’s pretty much the natural state of moms these days. But that is where I am lately… a constant state of mental and/or physical exhaustion. That is not to say that I never do any type of self-care. I just found myself in an unexpected, difficult situation and got trapped.
My 3-year old daughter was in a freak accident early this summer. After the initial trauma was past and we prepared for her in convalescence, I found myself in full-on adrenal failure. My body was so tapped out from being in a constant state of fight-or-flight stress that I lost all energy, motivation and hope.
In addition to having lost all my energy, I was also losing sleep to my daughter’s care. We barely had a moment to breathe let alone rest or do any type of self-care. Then I got sick. My immune system was shot, my hormone balance was off and my anxiety & depression (usually managed through self-care) was starting to overtake me.
Luckily, I am a self-proclaimed and ambitious self-care advocate, so I knew just what to do! Hooray!
But did I do it? Nope.
Initially, I was just too busy and tired from caring for my injured child to even find time for self-care. During that time, an unexpected nap or uninterrupted meal was a victory for me. We were in survival mode for well over a month. This, I feel, is likely the normal in times of trauma and/or grief. But eventually, I needed to move past it and start finding our healthy, balanced “normal” again.
But did I work to find that balance? Nope.
Rather than utilize the slight increase in my “free” time to detox and nourish my body & mind, I self-medicated. I let my excuses become my truth. I knew exactly what I was doing and chose to do it anyway.
Being in a shitty situation sucks. Watching my child in pain sucks. Helping my children process the trauma sucks… and it is really hard work. We survived the worst portion of her recovery (we hope) and I am exhausted.
Long term, I knew that I was hurting myself and prolonging my misery, but I didn’t care. It was much easier and self-gratifying to eat hot Cheetos and drink beer to recover from a hard day than to work at feeling better.
I wanted to feel better, I knew what I needed to do to feel better, but I was feeling too sorry for myself to even try. I kept telling myself that I would start eating better, sleeping better, exercising more and drinking less… on Monday, after “X” event or once school resumes.
Finally, I snapped. I woke up exhausted, grumpy and anxious after yet another night staying up too late watching TV and self-medicating with junk. I saw the remnants of my late night snacking and drinking and thought… this is sad. This is not me. This is why I feel like crap all day.
Finally, “daytime” me had enough energy and self-respect to (try to) put the self-pitying “nighttime” me in her place.
Real Life for Self-Care Advocates
Despite what you may see on Instagram feeds and in the media, self-care and wellness advocates to not live perfect lives. We cheat, we mess up, and we fail. All. The. Time.
Knowing and preaching the value of self-care does not make us immune to the stresses of life or give us unnatural willpower. Often it is a struggle to lace up our shoes or unroll our yoga mats. We have learned what it takes to live healthier, happier, more positive lifestyles, but we still must work at it. We must practice what we preach.
I am sure there are exceptions, but in my experience, the bulk of those in the wellness industry were not born or even raised with the knowledge that they share. Most of us came from a bad place, rock bottom even. After an aha moment or kick in the pants, we picked ourselves up out of our misery and found something that brought us to the light. (Pardon my dramatic word choice, but I truly believe it is an awakening.)
Perhaps it was a scary diagnosis, an infomercial or midlife crisis that brought them into the wellness industry. Or as in my case, it may have been out of the sheer desire to stop feeling like shit all the time- a desire to just be happier.
Whatever the reason, the important thing to note is that fitness & wellness professionals are not born with some magic innate gift that makes us crave organic veggies over potato chips. We don’t live in a separate world of rainbows & unicorns, where positive thinking and good choices are second nature to us. We, at some point in our lives, realized that there was another way to live that made us feel better and chose to lean into that way of life.
Each day for us, as for anyone, is filled with choices. We practice healthy eating, we practice different forms of exercise, we practice positive thinking, and we practice self-care.
Do we make the best choice every time? No.
Do we fall off the wagon? Yes.
Do we make excuses? Definitely.
Do we quit? What do you think?
Once you find forms of self-care that make you feel better, there is no going back. Once you get a taste of life in balance, you will always desire it. You may not always have the drive to go at it full throttle, but your body, mind and heart will always pull you back to it.
A perfectly balance lifestyle cannot be sustained indefinitely. Self-care advocates have ebbs & flows, good days & bad, setbacks & triumphs just as any other. But we continue to show up for ourselves and encourage you to do the same, because it is a practice.
Stop the Hypocrisy and Self-Criticism
I am never going to stop sharing my triumphs, because I am proud of them. I am never going to stop posting inspirational quotes, sharing lessons learned or advocating for your self-care. Because the importance of balance, of happiness, of wellness is much too important.
The rush I feel when I am healthy, balanced, positive and happy is just too much to keep inside. I cannot bask in the glow of my happy moment and allow others to dwell in misery. Whether by sharing a tip, promoting an event or activity, or simply willing my love to reach someone who needs it, I will continue to pay it forward.
However, I know all too well how easy it is to slip up, to get trapped in a bad place. Pretending that life is perfect all the time does not serve me or you. All that it does is put undo pressure to maintain the illusion of perfection.
I engage in negative self-talk. I get zits. Sometimes my pants don’t fit. I occasionally eat an entire wedge of brie as a meal after posting a recipe the day before on how to make a superfood smoothie. It’s a process. That’s life.
I am going to make a point of showing up each day as my honest, genuine self… scars and all. Will you join me?
Being honest and vulnerable can be hard. I know I will slip up and try to hide my mistakes and perceived flaws, but I will continue to practice this honesty, practice sharing my truth.
Seek balance in your life. Don’t burn yourself out striving for a perfect life. Don’t fake perfection. Be the example of how you want your children and friends to treat themselves. Be genuine. Live your truth.
Strive for happiness, not perfection. We won’t be happy every day. We won’t be positive and chipper every day. But we can work towards it.
We are amazing. We are all capable. We are already enough. We are worthy of happiness and love. We show that love to ourselves through self-care.
Self-care is how we seek balance, not perfection.
Self-care is not selfish.
Self-care is not a luxury.
Self-care is a practice.
Self-care is self-love. And you absolutely deserve love.
Take the Self-Care Challenge
Despite the lingering voice in my head that pressures me to do #allthethings, I have been practicing giving myself the grace to go at my own pace… to go with the flow. After the crazy summer I have had, I need a kick in the butt to reclaim my healthy, happy balance. A huge part of that is letting go of the things that I don’t need to do.
As my kids returned to school and routine sets back in, I am slowly finding the time for myself. I decided to go all-in and make this next month a self-care reset. This doesn’t mean I will neglect my duties to my family, home or work. It will be about finding time and prioritizing my self-care.
Each day for 30 days, I will be finding one thing to do for myself. Some days that will mean a workout. Other days, it will be rest or a bath. Always seeking that balance.
Would you like to reset as well?
Print out the Self-Care Challenge Tracker to track your activities.
Making self-care a daily activity in this way will help us turn it from a chore or indulgence into a habit. Also having the calendar will help us remember to prioritize our care. You might even go into your planner or phone carve out the time you will dedicate to yourself. Treat these activities as you would any appointment and commit to yourself!
Print our Mood Tracker to track your emotions throughout the challenge. Combining these two trackers to see how your self-care affects your happiness and well-being.
Afterward, you can look back on your month to see if you are finding balance or to pinpoint when you might be struggling to stay connected with yourself. We shouldn’t be too critical with ourselves though. Be proud of any self-care you do in the month.
Remember that this is a practice, so you don’t need the pressure of following a strict schedule or have any expectations. If tracking is too much of a chore, it’ll take the happiness out of the process for you. Just follow your heart and honor yourself.
Looking for some self-care inspiration?
Check out these ideas: Self-Care Challenge Ideas
You can mix and match and repeat any activities that especially suit you. But remember… self-care is seeking balance. So perhaps only choosing “sleep in” for the duration of the month isn’t taking you in the right direction =P
Do you think you could make the commitment to care for yourself? Take the Self-Care Challenge and learn to make self-care a fundamental part of your life.
Announce your challenge on social media, invite friends to join you and share your progress & insights using #NHselfcarechallenge and tag @namastehappy.
What are your favorite forms of self-care? Share your ideas with us as I am always trying to update my list!
Get your FREE printable trackers!
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