What Self-Care is (And Isn’t)

When I first started coaching, I wanted to help other working moms like me get the alone time they needed for self-care.

This mattered to me because I burnt out and ended up losing my job. It was a new role for me and I wanted to do the best that I could. But, I was drowning. I tried to keep up and the more mistakes I made, the more anxious I got. And the more anxious I got, the more mistakes I made.

And the more I wanted to escape. I’d stay up late scrolling through my Instagram feed. I’d be so exhausted in the mornings that I drank several cups of coffee a day to keep going. I lost my appetite (likely due to all the coffee and anxiety) and lived on one meal per day.

I worked hard to do my work and stay afloat. It didn’t work. I was fired and was forced to look at how my life was working for me. At how my decisions were working for me. And they weren’t.

So I took the month after losing my job to reconnect with myself through self-care. I’d get my boys ready for their day (one for high school and the other for daycare). Three days a week, I was alone. With myself, my thoughts, struggles and fears. And as I reconnected with the things I enjoyed that mattered to me (ie writing, reading, walking, practicing stillness), I felt confident and more loving toward myself. I also came up with my definition of quality self-care.

Quality self-care is the little and big things we do to increase joy, increase energy, elevate mood and uplift the spirit.

It’s not just about getting mani-pedis and a massage (though these can be part of a great self-care plan). It’s about the quality of the time you have alone. If your self-care activities are doing the following for you, chances are you’re getting the quality self-care you need. And if not, keep reading to see how you can improve your self-care.

Quality self-care increases joy.

Simple. Self-care is designed to make you happy. You work and family can make you happy, but you are responsible for your personal happiness. Your personal joy is on you. When I take the time to do something kind for myself, I’m happy. Not only because I’m choosing joy, but because I’m actively supporting the growth of my joy. Outside of being a mom and worker. But, by just doing for me.

Recommended activities for increased joy: Taking a time-out, dancing to your favorite song, laughing at funny pictures.

Quality self-care increases your energy.

When I feel sluggish or tired, I know it’s time to ramp up my self-care. And I also know that whatever doesn’t increase my energy is not quality self-care. I tend to go for walks or take naps. Or spending time with a friend that I haven’t seen in ages and talking about exciting things happening in my life (this week I’ve got lunch plans with one of my girlfriends. So excited!). When you’re getting the time you need for you, you’re motivated and energetic. You can walk through stress without losing steam because you’ve already taken the time to energize your system.

Recommended activities for increased energy: Attending doctor appointments, exercising, drinking water, walking. Note: Make sure to create an exercise plan with your doctor BEFORE beginning any exercise program. 

Quality Self-Care elevates your mood.

I touched on this briefly in the last section. Your mood matters. Mood is defined as a state or quality of being at a particular time. Our mood changes throughout the day and goes up, down and all around depending on how we experience what happens to us. Our mood also depends on how we respond to our mood.

If it’s Monday, you may wake up in a bad mood because you’ve got to go to work (and maybe you had such a great time celebrating Cinco de Mayo this past weekend). The important thing to know about your mood is that you can change it. You don’t have to keep the same mood that you woke up with. Which is a relief, because who wants to feel crappy all day? I know I don’t. So when you’re at work on your lunchbreak and you see your son’s drawing of his family (with Mami in the center and a big I love you), you feel happier. And when you feel happier, you’ve just lifted up your mood. See? Self-care is possible if you keep it simple.

Recommended activities for elevated mood: Reading kind notes from friends, listening to your favorite podcast, seeing your therapist. Note: If your mood is stuck (ie NOTHING WORKS) or you’re going through some major life changes and are having a hard time, consider finding a therapist to help you navigate those changes. 

Quality self-care uplifts the spirit.

It makes you feel good about yourself as a human being. When talking about self-care, it’s not just about reducing your stress, elevating your mood or increasing your energy. It’s also about your spiritual life. How you focus on building your spiritual connection with yourself. When I think about uplifting my spirit, I think about how aligned my actions are with my current lifestyle or how I’m making a difference in the world. Am I showing up for myself, family, work and the world in a way that feels right with me? Now, this looks differently for all people. For you, uplifting your spirit could mean raising money for a cause you believe in because not only are you helping others, but it feels SO DAMN GOOD to help someone else in need. The reward is in the helping. For me, uplifting my spirit could mean reading an inspirational book (I can recommend The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch).

Recommended self-care activities to uplift your spirit: Reading your favorite affirmation ( ie – “I’m amazing. I’m Strong. I’m powerful.”); de-cluttering and donating gently used items to people in need, raising money for your favorite cause, going to church/spiritual services.

As a mom, you’ve got a million things on your plate. But, those million things DON’T need to live in your brain 24-7. Quality self-care is not about taking time alone to stress over everything you’ve got to do. Or worry that people are going to be upset with you. Honestly, if that’s how you’re feeling, it’s no WONDER you’re still stressed out!

Quality self-care is about taking the space and time to enjoy the moment. To relax. To recoup your energy. To rebuild yourself (emotionally, mentally, spiritually). Your self-care plan is unique to you. Because the things that work for me may not work for you. Try different activities and find what works for YOU.

So that you can have more joy, energy, happiness and peace. Because YOU TRULY DESERVE IT.

Have a great week!

 

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