“Self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” – Audre Lorde, feminist and civil rights leader
My son and I were discussing love tanks and self-care one evening on a long drive home. I learned about love tanks in a study group I was in. A love tank is a sort of symbol used to communicate how much love an individual feels. When your love tank is empty, you’ve poured it out on other people giving them the attention and affection they need and you need it filled back up so you can keep pouring it out on others.
Sometimes in life, we forget that our love tanks need to be refilled, or we feel we are being selfish by wanting or needing time to rebuild that reserve. But it’s not selfish. We need it to live. When our tanks are empty, we find ourselves in a pit, and when you are in a pit, it’s really hard to take care of loved ones with the patience and compassion required. So, if you find yourself snapping more than you’re smiling, read on!
Self-Care Provides Peace
We have all been in the throes of caregiving–-maybe a sick 4-year-old is screaming and won’t take his medicine, the 2-year-old is crying because he or she wants his or her Mama, Daddy is on the porch for a break, and you’re left to handle the chaos alone. (I might be speaking from experience). I remember being so upset because I felt like I needed a break too.
Sometimes, self-care can look like hiding in your closet for ten minutes just to gather your thoughts, breathe, and remind yourself that you were created for this season of your life and you CAN do it.
One thing I love to do is go for drives. If it’s during daylight hours, I can take in the beauty of the area we live in. I can meditate, pray, sing at the top of my lungs, or just ride in silence. There’s a coffee shop that’s in a town about 15 minutes away from my house. I will go there sometimes, get my favorite drink, and just drive straight back. Sometimes, that’s all I need to get back on track.
I know some of you are thinking, “but it’s hard to get away.” That’s true. So, guess what? I find the time. (I do it after they are in bed.)
Self-Care Improves Patience
When we are tired, stressed, emotional, overworked, or whatever, our patience is typically the first thing to go. We can explode at the drop of a hat, and we sometimes can’t control who’s on the other end of that explosion. Taking time for yourself can give you a chance to pause, reflect, and deal with the growing frustration before an explosion occurs, giving you a little break from thinking about everything going on in your lives.
I went to see my therapist recently. I hadn’t seen her in nearly three years. It was so therapeutic to have that time with her and talk to her about the things that were going on in my life. She helped me see things in different ways. That time with her was one of my ways of implementing self-care. CrossFit also helps me with this. When I told my therapist that I had been struggling over the past few months, she asked me if it coincided with the time I had been away from CrossFit; and sure enough, it had. That one-hour class at the gym gives me the boost I need–whether it be self-confidence, energy level, strength, etc. to focus and find the patience I need to be a good mama.
Self-Care Renews Passion
Passion can have many meanings. The passion you have for your partner is not the same as the passion you have for a subject, hobby, dream, or goal. We can get in that stagnant place where passion is missing, and all we need is something to renew that within us. Getting a reminder of who you are, who you were before . . . sometimes, that’s all it takes to bring that passion back.
For me, spending time with old friends is how I reconnect with my passion., Whether it be a 10-minute phone call, girls’ night out, or time with a community of women that helps support me, listen to me, and encourage me, I’m rejuvenated. Some time spent at my hair stylist’s or the local nail salon can do the same thing. Even just waking up, showering, and putting on makeup can do the trick, in some instances. Maybe journaling can help you reflect and remember what passions you had as a child, teenager, or young adult, and you can revisit those.
Self-Care Helps Us Fulfill Our Purpose
We all have a purpose. We are where we are in our lives because of a reason, and a lack of self-care can make us forget that or lose sight of that. It can be hard to see that when we are in the thick of things. It can make us feel like we aren’t fulfilling our purpose or wonder what it is at all.
Some time spent in nature, whether it be a morning walk or a nature hike at your favorite spot can give you the time you need to reflect and remember that you were made for this and can overcome whatever it is you’re dealing with.
How to Incorporate Self-Care
In an article by Sierra Koester, she discusses a talk by Lindsey C. M. Garrett about the different levels of self-care and what to do to prevent or deal with the overwhelm that might kick in. If you use a planner, take a look at your week. Is there somewhere that you can steal some time in your daily routine? You can try waking up 20 minutes earlier, going for a walk, meditating, reading, or just taking that time to put on some makeup and do your hair (or whatever it is that makes you feel your best).
Now, are there some places you could block out some time weekly or bi-weekly? Schedule some time with a therapist, make an appointment for a mani-pedi, or even a coffee date with a friend. How about monthly? Maybe a girls’ day with some of your friends or some family members that uplift.