The concept of self-care is turning it into a bit of a cliche that makes you feel like self-care is for the weak “who need it.” And the rest of us, well we gotta hold it together, roll up our sleeves, and get it all done, right?
This mindset that practicing self-care is only for the privileged or for those who just have a ton of time on their hands is nuts. We ALL need self-care. Period.
The fact is, we can only go as far as our bodies will take us… not our drive, our minds, or the passion in our hearts. It’s our bodies and they need intentional care and attention.
Let me start off by saying what self-care is. Self-care is anything we do to take care of our bodies as a whole – mind, body, and soul. It is what we do to make our lives better, to live longer, and be healthier.
Healthy self-care makes our lives better, gives us a boost of confidence, and makes our minds and bodies better.
Now let’s talk about what self-care is NOT. Self-care is not getting your hair and nails done at the salon or pampering yourself with a massage every couple of months. Though these are totally good and maybe even necessary, this is what I call maintenance care.
Why We All Need Healthy Self-Care
Again, while pampering yourself at the spa is fun and highly enjoyable (so I’ve heard) it’s not necessarily self-care. Why? Because it makes you feel good but doesn’t make your life better, healthier, or live longer. But it does make you enjoy life at that moment, so if you can go for it!
Right now, I want to bust the misconception that self-care is frivolous and all about pampering yourself. I mean, who’s got time for that? If you’re a busy mom like me, you don’t have time for frivolous!
Taking care of ourselves is the only way we’re going to make it to where we want to go. To be the best mom for our families. When we’re riddled with things like fatigue, overwhelm, and stress our quality of life goes way down!
Don’t be like 78% of moms who say put their family’s needs and health before their own. (source).
We have the power to actually make our lives better and by doing so, we’re then better able to serve our families… not before.
And these self-care practices will actually make your life better and not just suck up your time!
Oh, and just as a super valuable bonus, self-care makes us better moms because our children are learning how to properly take care of themselves by watching us do it. I mean, where else are they going to learn it!
11 Healthy Self-Care Practices
Stick to Your Yearly Check-Ups
So, I’m just going to start off this list with the least attractive self-care practice of them all! Sorry but it’s so important for us to get our regular check-ups every year. This should be at least a physical with your regular practitioner and a yearly well-woman check.
It’s funny how I never miss one of my kids’ yearly well checks, but I’ve gone through seasons where I’ve put off my own check-ups for several years. Yep, I did.
We just fall into a trap of busyness and make tons of excuses why it’s “not a good time.” But the truth is, our family needs us here and healthy. And a huge part of that is going to see the doctor.
If it makes you feel any better, schedule a pampering session right after and get a mani-pedi!
Keep a Journal
Journaling is something that may not make your body healthier but it fills in all the gaping holes in your mind and spirit! Our minds are constantly working and holding onto stress, overwhelm, and loads of fear.
Our minds need a safe place to dump all that garbage, and our journal is the perfect place! When we braindump at the end of the day or write in a gratitude journal at the start of each day, we’re using our minds in a powerful way.
For our brains, it’s like dumping a pile of puzzle pieces out on the floor and working to put the pieces together. When we write down all of our mind-stuff, we’re putting together beautiful pictures that we otherwise have a really hard time making sense of when we keep them locked in our heads.
Whenever I have a huge decision to make, feel stuck, overwhelmed, or anxious I run to my journal and write it out. I always leave feeling like my “craziness” makes sense after and I’m energized to do the next right thing.
Get Moving Every Day
Exercise is something that’s been in and out of my life since I was a teenager. But as I’m approaching 40, I’ve come to embrace it in an entirely different way.
I am literally reshaping and retraining my body to look and feel better than I ever have. It’s grueling at times, but what I hold on to tighter than anything else it that I’m doing this for ME. Just me and no one else.
I realized that however fast or slow I make progress toward my goals doesn’t matter nearly as much as knowing that I’m grateful that I even have the ability to be in the game every single day.
If you think you don’t have time to exercise, let me get a bit cliche on you and say, you don’t have time, NOT to exercise. That’s because for every hour I put into exercising, I’m getting back probably close to 3 extra good, high-energy hours back in return!
Exercise really is the gift that keeps on giving… giving in lifting my butt, giving me tons of energy that was previously non-existent, and feeling a sense of empowerment that’s been gone a long time.
Have Regular “Do You” Time
This one is probably my favorite for obvious reasons. It’s so important to our overall well-being to do things that we love. What am I talking about here? These are things you love to do and don’t necessarily do for work or money.
In fact, it’s better if you choose things that you don’t receive a financial gain for but do because it brings you joy. When you add money into the mix, it messes with our motivations.
If you love to garden but tend put it off because you’re busy and it’s not a “necessary” task that needs to be done… stop right now and put it on your schedule! Maybe your thing is reading juicy novels but you tell yourself it’s silly.
This is all about doing things that give you joy that you do just for you. It doesn’t have to be long, just 30 minutes a week is a baseline to start. The important thing is to start.
Stay Hydrated All Day
Drinking water is so important to our bodies, how our skin looks and feels, and even how sharp our brain is. Did you know that drinking a tall glass of water when you first get up in the morning wakes your brain up better and faster than a cup of coffee?
If you hate drinking water, my suggestion is obvious and that’s to add in some flavor like fruit or lemon juice. But what works better than anything is just drinking it.
The more water you drink, the more it craves.
Your mind doesn’t like drinking water but your body absolutely does! It’s recommended to drink half of our body weight in ounces per day. That’s a lot of water, especially if you’re not really into drinking water that much.
My suggestion is to be intentionally slow about it and simply remove one glass of non-water beverage from your daily intake. Then at the same time, add one glass (preferably at least 16 oz.) of water to your daily lineup. After a week, remove and add another and so on until you reach your water goal.
Reading or Listening to Books
Some people read books because it brings them joy and others read because it simply brings them knowledge. Those are both great reasons to read.
If you fall into the latter category or hate to read, let me encourage you to reap the amazing benefits of reading books without ever reading. I realize this is likely not new information to you, but try listening to audio books.
The cool thing is, you can listen to them from anywhere and while doing almost anything. And you can speed up the pace and get through them faster if you feel like their reading pace is too slow.
The point is to listen or read books to gain new knowledge and perspectives which is something we could all stand to get more of. There are simply endless non-fiction books we could read that would benefit and change our lives if we’d just push play.
Using a Calendar
There are a million ways to calendar your life. But you should be choosing one of them to manage one emotion that can wreak havoc on your overall health – stress.
“In the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.” (Source)
There are many reasons why so many people feel stressed and one of them is feeling overscheduled, unorganized, and always running late for things. And when you’re a mom, you are managing everyone’s schedule and that’s enough to make anyone crazy.
Using a calendar to manage your appointments, to-do’s, and other things you need to schedule is an important part of taking good care of your mental wellbeing.
I’m not saying this as a calendar lover, I’m saying this as a calendar rebeller. I use my online calendar but not because I love to but because I’ve learned I HAVE to. I kept starting and stopping because I love the super smart approach of keeping things up in my head.
It never works out and I’ve finally made peace with it and rely on my calendar for my daily plans. I am notably less stressed because I’m no longer putting the remarkable pressure on my brain to do the impossible and remember everything. My only problem now is remembering to add things to the calendar!
Get and Stay Connected
In our society today we are more “connected” than ever before but also even more “disconnected” than ever before. We can be reached via text message in an instant no matter where we are in the world. If we leave our phones home by mistake, we physically go into a panic as is something terrible might happen.
We have more “friends” on social media than we would ever really care to have in real life yet our society reports feeling more loneliness than ever before.
Why? Because we keep telling ourselves the lie that because we post a new status on social media every day that that counts as personal connection with people.
It doesn’t… at all. We need real people to look in the eyes and hug and lean on. And we need this more often than a couple times a year when we meet a friend for coffee.
So call up that friend you’ve been pushing off and go out for lunch or a walk or a playdate with the kids. It doesn’t matter what you do, just making a human connection is what’s important.
Focus on Better Sleep
Not getting enough quality sleep is a mountain level problem in our country. The sleep products industry is a billion dollar one… 70 billion to be exact! And for good reason… people are rundown and exhausted.
And solving this problem is obviously not an easy one.
But there are things we can do to get better and longer sleep.
- Stop using any electronics at least one hour before going to sleep.
- Wear glasses that have blue light blockers to reduce the stimulating lights from our electronics.
- Use essential oils right before bed to help stimulate the brain’s sleep signals.
- Having a regular bedtime and wake time 7 days a week. Sleeping in on the weekends actually messes with your sleep rhythms.
- Stretch before bed. At the end of this post is a video with stretches that’ll help you be ready for a good night’s sleep!
Aromatherapy is not only something that’s enjoyable and can give you a spa-like experience it has amazing health benefits. Using essential oils isn’t just some fluffy, new-aged stuff, they are recognized but renowned medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic.
Using essential oils have properties that can help you sleep better as shown above, reduce stress and anxiety, and even help promote feelings of courage and strength.
If you, or even your family members are struggling with anxiety, low energy, or even feelings of depression – essential oils may be able to help.
You can even diffuse a stress relieving blend to relax and de-stress after a hard day. Learn more amazing benefits here!
Stretching every day is something most of us probably don’t do and is an activity we likely think our aging population should be doing and not us.
But that’s oh so wrong! Not only does stretching feel so good when we do it but it does more for our health than just greater flexibility. Which that alone is a good reason!
Stretching in the morning gets our blood flowing and helps to wake up our brains. We’re more alert and less likely to trip or stub our pinky toe on the dresser. It also helps reduce that painful stiffness that tends to creep up at midday.
Stretching before bed is also a great time to loosen your muscles and prepare your body for rest. Below is a wonderful and hugely popular video with a nighttime stretching routine you’ve gotta try tonight!
Final Thoughts on Self-Care
Self-care isn’t a new concept and you’ve probably heard about all the items on this list, but that doesn’t make them any less true or effective for making your life better and more enjoyable.
We all have one life, why not make it a great one?
And let me remind you of something… if you’re waiting for someone to come along and tap you on the shoulder to give you permission to take care of yourself… they’re not coming.
Sorry, that may be harsh but it’s true. Even if you have an amazing partner who encourages you to care for yourself, you are ultimately the one who’s responsible for making it happen.
And when you’re good… your family’s good.
Let me know in the comments how you practice healthy self-care.