So much of what I see online and hear about from other moms is to take time for self care. My initial thought was to spoil myself. To treat myself to spa days and girls nights. While those things are really nice to do on occasion I think they miss the point.
In my opinion it’s important to take care of your self-mentally, physically, spiritually. While that may include spoiling yourself with a pedicure now and then I’ve discovered five areas to improve my own long term self care.
Set Healthy Boundaries
This is one of my New Years Resolutions. I’m learning that setting healthy boundaries is fantastic for my mental health. For me this means not over committing my life to others, saying no more, and taking care of relationships-whether that is to end an unhealthy relationship or cultivate a new one. I’m sharing less of my life on social media and living more in the moment.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV
Practice forgiveness and gratitude
I tend to hold grudges. Do you? When someone wrongs me I just hang onto that and let it fester in my mind. That is not a great way to spend my life. There have been times when I’ve had to ask for forgiveness for holding a grudge and that person had no idea that I was mad at them. There’s also been times when I’ve had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry-or even alive. Letting go of those grudges frees my heart and my spirit.
Gratitude goes hand in hand with forgiveness. I’ve learned that if I’m grateful for things in my life I see less of the negative. When I am grateful for certain aspects of people and the relationships with them I don’t see the bad things as much.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 NIV
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy” Philippians 1:3-4 NIV
Invest in community and connection
Whoa! This is a hard one for me and I know for many others as well. This is stepping out of my comfort zone and reaching out human to human. Face to face. NOT ON SOCIAL MEDIA! Community and connection seems so much easier when you aren’t actually meeting face to face. I’m currently taking a break from social media and it has been fantastic. I don’t really miss it. I do log on occasionally to update groups that I lead-but it’s in the name of building community.
I started a small bible study in our church and it’s been great. I love getting together with these other moms and talking about our struggles. It’s crazy to see these moms-who look like they have it all together- and they are falling apart just like me. Motherhood is surprisingly isolating and community -face to face community is vital for survival.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV
Practice good health
To me this seems pretty obvious for self care but I struggle with it. Staying active, eating healthy-instead of junk, getting outside…these all help with self care. The more we move around, get our heart rate up, put good stuff in our bodies-the better we feel. In return we can help our families feel better too. We set good examples for our kids and we are ultimately able to do more without the added stress and exhaustion.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV
I mean…come on. This is obvious. Rest is vital to our survival. Our physical and mental health depend on rest. Rest may not even be sleep (though very important) it could be setting a boundary and saying no to something and instead spending time with your kids or spouse. Occasionally we like to book a night away in a hotel. We intentionally go away to spend time as a family uninterrupted. We could have a family day at home but life is still there-asking for help or advice. It’s good to step away from responsibility for just a moment to rest and recover and then you will be better at your responsibilities later.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV
Spend time in the Word
To me this is another no-brained but also another hard one to accomplish. I’ve found that the YouVersion Bible App helps to keep me focused. No, it’s not an actual paper bible but I can grab my phone anywhere and read some scripture or a devotional any time that I have a quick moment-during nap time or in the car when I have a moment waiting to go in somewhere. I wake up to tend to my kids in the middle of the night. Sometimes I can’t go back to sleep. I will grab my phone and read in my bible app. It’s pretty convenient. These actions have changed my mood and have allowed me to grow in my spiritual walk. When I’m struggling I know that I can find encouragement and truth in my bible.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” John 8:31-32 ESV
Truthfully I don’t know if these five things will help YOU practice self care but I do know that they have helped me. I have learned so much about myself and my relationships by doing these things. My life seems to be less irritating and my difficult seasons are shorter. I have learned to have an attitude of gratitude and my mental health has improved greatly through that.
Send me your suggestions for self care!