Self-care tended to be one of those words that made me roll my eyes. It was right up there with those who claim to have found a work-life balance. It seemed like a bunch of B.S. to be honest.
Like something hard to do or something that only those with a ton of time (or money) on their hands can actually get done. And then there’s the fact that you don’t hear men talking about “self-care.” Can’t imagine hearing a man say “Making self-care a priority so I’m going to go meet the guys for a round of golf.” No, he would just say “Heading to the golf course.”
So self-care sounded more like some made up buzzword than something I could actually find the time to do.
But then I got so bogged down. Between
Everyone else’s needs and wants and pressures and feelings overshadowed anything that was just for me. And I suddenly could only describe myself in terms of other people. There was no me left.
I needed some self-care.
Not in a dramatic “I’m going to go live on an island alone for three months where I just focus on my inner well-being” type of self-care. Or anything that costs much money or even all that much time.
But what I need, what I want, matters. I matter outside of how others view me in relation to what they want me to be or do.
So I began to make a few small changes.
That meant taking a little bit of time to get dressed and fix my hair. Working from home often means no one cares what I wear, so I was defaulting to what was super comfy (and usually ratty) and tying my hair back without really even looking in the mirror. Not a bad thing every once in a while, but I began to feel the way I looked, which was frumpy and ugly and not worth more than a minute’s worth of attention.
I still don’t dress super fancy and there’s an element of comfort to everything I put on, but just a little bit of effort made me feel better. The same with my hair: it doesn’t take that long for me to fix it and maybe even put on a little bit of makeup. Put together enough so I don’t feel the need to apologize for my appearance on a video call for work or cringe if I need to run into one of my boys’ schools. Look a little better, feel a lot better.
I also started making meals that I enjoy. There were so many meals where I’d just plan what I knew my kids would like, especially if I didn’t know if my husband would be home. And then I’d just pick at something or end up eating snack foods instead of real meals. I actually enjoy cooking and I decided to go ahead and cook some meals that I would like to eat. If not all of the kids ate them or if my husband wasn’t home- there are good leftovers for my lunch the next day. Trying to juggle everything is hard enough as it is, but to do it without something resembling proper nutrition is almost impossible.
Fitting in time to work out was also important to me. I’d been in a pretty good routine with this until this past fall and then I fell back on the excuse of there not being any time. And while things were busy, I really could have made the time. It’s still hard- sometimes it means getting up super early, other times it’s squeezing in a workout while one of my boys is at some sort of practice. A little bit of time on the weekends, whenever I can make it fit. I feel better physically, which helps with how I feel mentally.
I’ve spent more time doing the things I like to do as well as adding passion back into things I’d already been doing. Some hobbies and activities had been put aside because I thought I didn’t have time- but I found I could squeeze some of that in. And others I’d already been doing but I reminded myself that I really loved doing those things and I let myself fully enjoy them again, instead of it being like I was checking off a to-do list. That change in mindset led to an even bigger change in how I was feeling.
All of these things I’ve been doing- they’d fall under what you’d call “self-care.” They aren’t big, earth-shattering, time-consuming, expensive things to do. But when they add up, they make a difference in how I feel. So maybe there is something to be said for self-care after all. Maybe it’s just another way of saying “I matter, too.”