Amy Clark

My Ultimate Downfall: Self-Care

Here are some things I need to admit before I begin discussing self-care:

1. I do not keep my appointments when it comes to my own health care- doctor visits, the hairdresser, annual visits, dentist visits, chiropractor care, or vision exams. This has usually been because I don’t want to take both my children to these visits or because I feel like these appointments can wait. It is rare though that I ever reschedule anything for my children. For myself, it is a regular occurrence.

2. I do not regularly engage in things that are just for me other than social commitments. I struggle with making time to do hobbies I enjoy, doing any regular reading, or indulging in time for quiet reflection for myself.

3. I am pretty good about buying clothes for myself, but I struggle with feeling worthy enough to spend money on myself. This is because I feel that oftentimes the money is better allocated to my children, our house, my spouse, or food. It has gotten to the point that items for myself that have needed replacing seem like “spending urges” rather than the simple fact that sometimes I actually have a need to replace it.

4. At times I feel that engaging in self-care and doing things for myself is selfish and indulgent.

Now do you want to take advice from someone like me? As I have plowed my way through the chapters in our book for discussion (“How Did I Get So Busy,” By Valorie Burton), I had to pause for a moment as I approached the chapters on self-care. In some ways, I feel like I do really well. I do things often with my mom’s group and I try to make time with my closest friends and sister, but these times are often filled with busyness and chasing after kids. While sometimes, during these visits, I get a break, I am not doing things to care for myself during these times. I realize that this is something I really and truly need to work on.

Valorie offers these tips for shifting to a self-care lifestyle:

1. Make a decision to change your life. This is the first time in any life-changing process and she encourages you to want to make that change.

2. Clarify what is no longer acceptable. Shifting from a life of self-care might mean shifting away from a life of busyness. Make a list of what is unacceptable to you in your current lifestyle and what must go in order for you to make the shift to this new life.

3. Clarify what makes you feel well cared for. What really makes you feel cared for? Is it being pampered, cared for, and nourished emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Write down what comes to mind.

4. Make self-care easy. The author suggests making self-care easy and scheduling it into your day just as you would anything else. Set up appointments on the same day of each week or each month so that you can incorporate it easily into your schedule. You could also make it easier by making items that help nourish you easier to access. For example, a foot soak is my favorite thing to do so grouping all of these items together in an accessible spot and scheduling it every Friday (which I used to do each Friday and then lapsed on because I was “too busy”) would make it a scheduled and easy task for me to indulge in.

5. Practice until it becomes a way of life. Refuse to compromise on your self-care and practice, practice, practice doing it. It is okay if you don’t do it perfectly, but make an effort to make self-care a priority in your life.

6. Notice how much easier it is to do what needs to be done when you live a self-care lifestyle. Incorporating self-care will help give you the energy and the foundation to better handle challenges that come your way. Self-care prevents those feelings of being burnt-out because you will now have a cushion to soften the blow.

The challenge with this lesson and chapter is to make a decision to adopt a self-care lifestyle. From this lifestyle, you will automatically eliminate a lifestyle of busyness.

My personal commitment:

1. I am going to schedule my chiropractor appointments regularly again and I am going to schedule and KEEP my dentist & eye exam appointments.

2. I am going to try to do (at least) one nice thing for myself each week- spending time reading, knitting, exercising, or something to pamper myself. It will not necessarily be things that I am spending money on, but it will be a special treat that I don’t often engage in.

3. I will work harder on buying things for myself when I need them. If I hear of a person (like a someone-who-shall-remain-nameless type of person) who needs new underwear and she thinks it is a “silly expenditure,” I will encourage her to go and spend some money on herself because that is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. And, yes, it has been that bad and that ridiculous for that person and shame on her.

4. I will not use my personal finances as an excuse to not take care of myself, unless that is really and truly true. We do have money for the things I need to care for myself and I will use those resources if they are needed. This doesn’t mean going to a spa resort for a weekend, but it might mean getting my hair trimmed or having my teeth cleaned.

These might seem like minor commitments, but I want you to know that this is a huge commitment for me. I want to be strong in body and mind, but I can’t be if I don’t take care of myself. This might require me to work less on the site so that I can make time to make this a priority, but I also feel that if I had this time that I might have more energy and even more creativity to draw from.

Sound Off: It is safe to admit it, do you struggle with caring for yourself? What is one commitment you could make towards your self-care? What is one thing that you really miss doing for yourself since you became a mom?

(P.S.- It is not selfish, it is self-care and you deserve it!)

Published April 25, 2008 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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