5 Ways to Practice Self Care

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.
  • “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

  • 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.
  • “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.
  • “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs‬ ‭27:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  • 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.
  • 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

    Rest

  • 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!

    The Messy Side

    I love to keep a neat, clean, organized home. My anxiety feeds on messy. I cannot calm down when everything is in disarray. I end up rage cleaning-you know-the type of cleaning that someone does when they are angry and can’t control anything else so they scrub and scrub until a hole forms in the counter because it makes them feel in control. Yeah…that’s me. I shamefully admit that more than once I’ve broken a dish or bent silverware during my rage cleaning. Good times. What a mess.

    Hot Lava and a Messy House filled with love.

    Recently my dishwasher broke. I loathe washing dishes. I would rather clean the toilet with my own toothbrush than wash dishes. So, my dishes sit in the sink for as long as I can tolerate them-hoping that someone will pop by and ask to wash them for me-after all…I’m a fabulous stay at home mom and there are tons of people who want to just “bless” me by doing my chores. A girl can dream can’t she? What a mess.

    And then there’s this other pile. A paper pile. I’m sure you’re familiar with it-I think it’s called “bills”. It sits there. All day. Every day. Looking at me-waiting to be paid. I know those bills are due but I look at them and look at our bank account and try to figure out when to mail these bills so that they don’t overlap or come close to grocery day. What a mess.

    I am a mess. My life is a mess. My kids are a mess. My house is a mess. But guess what…God doesn’t care. In fact-he sent His son to earth to take care of my mess. He’s with me in my anxiety driven rage cleaning. He’s with me when I’m avoiding doing the dishes and filling the sink with water one more time. He’s with me when I’m juggling bills and pay checks and trips to the grocery store trying to make every penny count.

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

    God never said we have to be perfect, organized, bathed every day, house spotless. He wants us to make an effort and give our best and if our best is less than perfect that’s okay because it’s our best. What is important is that we meet with Him every day.

    I love that I can come to Him with my mess. My sins-my anger, discontentment, jealousy, gossip, unforgiveness or whatever else is messy in my life and he takes it upon him and buries it at the bottom of the sea.

    As far as the East is from the west, so far he has removed our sins from us. Psalm 103:12

    Where are you today? Trying to be perfect? Content in your journey? Giving your best effort? Wherever you are know that you can be there and meet God in that place too. You don’t need to be perfect, pray perfect, look perfect…we are all a little messy.

    Healthy Boundaries

    Does anyone set a New Years Resolution and actually keep it? I’ve never really taken it seriously. For the past couple years though a word would present itself to me and stick. One year it was grace. I worked on learning about grace. It’s importance. How to give and receive it. This past year the word has been surrender. I am a huge control freak. I’ve had to learn how to let go and let God. Lately the word has been boundaries. All arrows are pointing to setting boundaries and respecting boundaries. So guess what? That’s going to be my word for 2020.

    According to the highly credible website Wikipedia, a New Years Resolution is  “a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.”

    This explanation seems to be pretty accurate. I think most people resolve to improve themselves physically…diet, exercise, quit a bad habit, etc. But why don’t we make more of an effort to resolve our mental issues. Let’s focus on improving our mental health. That will look differently to everyone and maybe dieting, exercising or quitting a bad habit will help you mentally. However, maybe working on forgiveness, relationships, grace, surrender, boundaries and the like might be a better option. How about getting back into church or diving into your bible every day?

    In my opinion when your heart and mind are healthy everything else will fall into place. God has a plan.

    When I first started having these words: grace, surrender, boundaries, appear to me I wasn’t sure I could make those kind of changes in my life. When you’ve lived a certain way your entire life and then try to change something it’s like throwing a stick into a tire spoke. I fell. A lot. I got hurt. But, as with many things, consistency is key. I kept at it. Those things I was changing got easier. Before I knew it I was giving grace and surrendering without struggle.

    This coming year as I focus on boundaries I wanted to look up what that really means. According to the “interwebs”, most sites had a similar definition, “a real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something“. That definition came from Cambridge Dictionary. I liked the wording of that explanation. The limit of something.

    Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

    During the year of 2020 I will be more mindful of my personal boundaries. I will say “no” more. I will be setting limits as to what I share on social media-not only for myself but for my kids. I will be respecting others’ boundaries. I will listen to my heart and prayerfully consider things before I make commitments. I will not settle for something just to make someone else happy. This might sound a little selfish but my mental health has been struggling because I have worked too hard at pleasing others. I will now guide my focus on what God is calling me to do and what is best for my family. I have been extremely hasty at making decisions in the past. From now on it might take me a little longer to respond and commit to something simply because I want to do what is right in my heart and within Gods Will for my life and my family.

    As silly as New Years Resolutions may seem I encourage you to make one. A silly resolution or a serious one. The more you work on something the easier it becomes. It takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle.

    The Broken Vase

    My sister in law, Liz, and I were having a conversation not too long ago. Actually we have this conversation quite often…getting rid of junk. Literal junk in our homes. We do not want to become “hoarders” or pack rats.

    Matthew 6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    It’s funny what items have emotional ties though. An old stained t-shirt, a book with the cover torn off, a birthday card signed by someone who is now gone, a onesie your baby wore. Continue reading “The Broken Vase”

    YOU are a Good Mom

    Do you use over the counter medicines or all natural/ essential oils/ earthy products when your kids are sick?

    It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

    Does your kid go to daycare or stay home with you?

    It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

    Do you feed your kid fast food or cook from scratch?

    It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

    Does your kid go to public school, Christian school, or homeschool?

    It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

    Did you have a natural birth, c-section, pain management birth adoption…foster…etc?

    It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

    Breast or formula?

    It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

    The list could go on and on. I find myself reminding myself that I am a good mom even if I choose Tylenol over essential oils. If I opt to stay at home rather than go to work. If I set my kids in front of the tv all day because I just can’t deal. It’s not every day. It’s not every time. Organic vs store brand isn’t always the right answer.

    Are your kids happy? Are you happy? Is your family being cared for in the best way that you can provide? YOU are a good mom.

    Proverbs 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;

    Motherhood isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. That. Is. Okay. It is okay to have a bad moment or a bad day. Maybe even a bad week. I suggest not unpacking and living in that bad moment. Sometimes it’s okay to let it all out. To scream or cry. As mothers we tend to hold ourselves together for the sake of our family. I’m telling you from experience that it is not good to keep emotions all bottled up. You will eventually explode.

    Find a good outlet. Try your best to get some alone time or time with a friend. Join a bible study or play group. Don’t let the title of mom define you. But still…YOU are a good mom.

    I see you mama. You are tired. Overwhelmed. Done. The judgement sometimes comes flying at you. Unwanted opinions and articles are sent your way. I see you. I hear you. YOU are a good mom.

    I am a good mom.

    Cultivating Connection

    This week I have been hit with small moments of depression. Any amount of depression, no matter how small, is not enjoyable. It hits me at weird times like when I’m driving to the store or a memory pops into my head. I can feel myself shutting down. I want so badly to let the darkness take over and just lay in a bed wallowing. That is exactly what Satan wants. He wants me to grab onto those dark feelings and fall into the pit of hopelessness.

    Only by the grace of God am I able to pull myself out of that pit and shake off the darkness and function for my family.

    Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk
        through the darkest valley,
    I will fear no evil,
        for you are with me;

    I am reminded pretty regularly how different we all are. How our mountains look extremely different from someone else’s and our valleys, or pits, can look different as well. But that doesn’t make my suffering or your suffering any less than that of someone else.

    Continue reading “Cultivating Connection”

    Introverted Mom

    Oh man, I am so an introvert. I absolutely cannot be in front of people. I do not like to be the center of attention. Please don’t make me talk to a group, lead a group, read out loud in front of a group. I was the kid that would sweat bullets when the teacher said “lets read out loud” or “I’m going to randomly call on people to answer the questions”. Lord help me my introverted-ness and my anxiety was absolutely paralyzing in school. I only realize that now…it was not obvious back then.

    Most of the time, I need time to recuperate after an event. Being social drains my energy. I attended a bridal shower a few weeks ago and I literally needed 3 days before I felt normal. My energy was drained from forcing myself to be social. Every Monday after church is my recovery day from being around people. Life can be exhausting in the most unusual ways.

    It may not seem that I am an introvert on paper. It’s easier to share my thoughts when no one is looking back at me. Blogging is serious therapy for me because I can get my words out without being in public. People can read it or not…thats not the point…I’ve said it before but I like to share what I am going through so that others who might be going through something similar will not feel alone.

    It is so difficult to be an introvert and to be a parent. I want what is best for my child! I want him to be social and to thrive in situations where there are lots of people. I want him to be outgoing and to be able to make friends. How can I teach him that when I don’t even like leaving my seat during the “shake hands” time during church?

    For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

    I would love to be involved in mom groups or play groups but, to be honest, that kind of stuff is SUPER out of my comfort zone. I do not like new social situations- especially when there is no one that I know. We recently took a swimming class and that was out of my comfort zone but I felt that it was important to learn water safety since my little man loves the water. The first day of class I nearly had a panic attack because I didn’t know what to expect. We made it though. And it was great. We didn’t make any lifelong friends but I was able to be a normal human being for the sake of my child.

    One thing that I have noticed is that my little man is okay with social situations. He willingly approaches other kids. He shares his toys with them. He initiates a game of tag. These things make me so proud as a parent. I cannot believe that a child of two introverts is able to build a social life better than we can.

    Little man and I were in the airport last week and he was restless. There is not a lot to do for an almost 2 year old in a small airport. He was drawn to other families with kids. He went to them, he shared his tractor and a little girl, who was several years older than he, willingly played with him while we waited to board our plane. I did not have to do a thing except supervise. Praise God!

    I am doing my best to step out of my comfort zone as a parent to allow for more social situations for my kid. We go to the park and to the library and that’s fine for us right now. Hopefully I will be able to overcome more barriers as he gets older and more social settings will be happening.

    I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11

    As much as I do not like social situations I also have a need to be around other adults from time to time. That is why I am okay with having a few close friends. I can share with them because I trust them and they know me. Over the years I have learned that a few close friends is better than a thousand acquaintances. One thing is for sure and that is that God has been faithful to provide for me the right people in certain points in my life. My close friends have not always been the same people. They change based on the season of life that I am in and I believe that God does that on purpose. He always provides what we need at the moment we need it-even for me as an introvert.