Does this sound familiar? “Honey, this week is going to be crazy! I have a late meeting for work on Monday but the kids need to be picked up early for dentist appointments. Then, you will be out of town the day of the school program. Who is going to watch the baby while I go to that? And, the birthday party on Saturday means somehow I have to have the house presentable. Not to mention the cooking.”
The obstacles to self-care can seem insurmountable to an already busy person. In the fall issue of this blog, we looked at how self-care can help us better love and serve those in our families and communities. Today, we are going to reflect on how to give self-care some space in your life.
1) Know your values. Values bring meaning to our lives. They are our most deeply held parts. We make decisions based on our values daily, but many of us are not aware of how our values affect us in small things. The struggle to take little moments for self-care often comes down to values conflicts, such as our value for self in competition with other values, like productivity.
Self-care requires believing
you are worthy of good things.
For instance, many moms forego time for self-care because they value time with their children more highly. But, a value that may be even deeper is feeling a lack of worthiness. To take care of yourself, you have to believe you are worthy of good things. If you believe your children deserve to be cared for but struggle to believe the same about yourself, you may want to take a look at why.
Getting to a place where you can care for your own needs without guilt can be very hard. Sometimes counseling is instrumental in helping with this. There can be a balance of caring for yourself in such a way that you are better able to care for others. This is different than being selfish, where you do not consider others as important. Even Jesus took time away to be by Himself to pray. The needs of others will never end, and you will eventually crash if you don’t take time to refuel.
2) Order your priorities: Priorities are how we work out our values in daily life. Some categories for priorities might be marriage, faith, parenting, education, earning money, saving money, traveling, or volunteering. Generally, priorities are the things we value the most. Often priorities seem to compete for our time, so writing them out and ordering them in order of importance to you can help you know which to invest in more heavily or at a given time.
3) Think beyond the present: Think about the long-term outcome of the small, daily decisions you are making. Let’s say one of your values is healthy eating. You might be fine with grabbing a fast lunch from McDonald’s once in a while, but if you scarf down a greasy burger more days than not, you are probably not going to feel satisfaction in this area of your life.
Sometimes we have to sacrifice, and do so gladly, in order to care for others. However, if your caring for everyone else never leaves time for unhurried meals, a good night of rest, or time enjoying a hobby, it might help to imagine years down the road what kinds of memories you want to have from the current season of life you are in. Then, set out to prioritize those things.
4) Release false guilt: Yes, not all guilt is really guilt. List the things you feel guilty about. One area common for caregivers is Mommy Guilt, such as, “I am a bad mom because I didn’t feed my child vegetables for lunch today.” Imagine yourself standing before a judge and jury and examine whether you would be found truly guilty. Then, let yourself off the hook in these areas of unnecessary burden. Not serving you child veggies at lunch is not your identity as a parent.
5) Make a plan: Once you work through the reasons you aren’t caring for yourself at a deep level, then issues tend to arise with time management. Making a plan and putting it in writing helps here. You may have to get creative or allocate a little money from your budget to put into self-care.
Your self-care plan is going to look different than everyone else’s. What refreshes you might exhaust me, and vice versa. What is important is that you chart a course that can work for you.
6) Utilize and grow your village: You may need to work to enlist support to enact your plan, whether that looks like hiring a babysitter, using a food service, or asking your husband to pitch in more.
7) Pick your battles: Sometimes, we need to let the house look a little less put together so we can attend to our soul’s needs. Consider which is more important, your soul or a clean house.
8) Pray for God to order your steps. This one is usually first on my list. God has a way of ordering our steps as we submit our ways to Him.
Please don’t let living in overload become your new normal. Work through these principles. Call me for a session if you want support in this. When you are healthy and happy, everyone in your circle will benefit.