When Having Time for Self-Care Feels Like a Pipe Dream

Self-care means different things to different people.  For some people, things like hair, nails, working out, playing basketball, massage are considered regular maintenance/health maintenance.  For others, those are luxuries. When I talk about self-care, I’m referring to things that either feed our souls or impact us in a way that feels like self-love.  These practices and their level of priority shift throughout our lives depending on where we are.

Right now, even though it feels good to get them done, I definitely consider hair and nails regular maintenance items.  When I had a full-time family, including an infant who didn’t sleep, and a full-time job, finding the time and space to myself to tend to my hair and nails felt like I was on a cruise ship. Let’s be real….when I was working full-time, had a toddler, a 10 year old, a husband, and a mom with 2 different types of dementia all living with me, locking myself in the bathroom to poop alone felt like a freakin’ sacred vacation.  My bar was so low at that time that I’d take any time on my own that I could get and feel blessed. My life was all about staying positive, caring for my family, and surviving.

Though I didn’t feel like I had many choices at that time, the truth is that I loved my family with everything in me (and still do), and I wanted to take care of them.  That had become my whole identity.  I worked to support and take care of them.  I pretty much gave up a social life, feeling like I couldn’t have one because I needed to be at home.  My family came before everything, even me (except for monthly bunco nights which became more important to me than pooping by myself).  Those were MY choices.

But as time went on, my heart and soul felt like they were wearing more and more thin. I knew my marriage was over, and I finally realized that the only true way to feel valued is to value myself.  I realized that I am the one who sets that bar for myself, the one who sets the expectation of what I deserve. And I started to take back my power. I arranged a shared schedule with the kids. I started using my “me time” to explore what would feed my soul in the new life that I would build on my own.  I started getting reacquainted with myself as a human being as opposed to as a mom, wife, or daughter. I started reading and writing again. I started moving my body again. I went deeper into my spiritual self. I started focusing on the health of my whole being. I consider this journey to be a continual exploratory evolution.  I now love trying new ways to take care of myself to see it it’s something to add to my self-care toolbox.

So what do I do on a regular basis?  I get enough sleep. I go to the beach and spend time outdoors. I live from a place of love. I practice “letting go”. As a part of my daily routine, every morning I write down 3 things for which I’m grateful in my gratitude journal.  I read the daily message in 2 different kinds of devotionals. I sit in a salt bath and I meditate. I wear crystals that have special meaning for me depending on what I need that day.  I use essential oils with affirmation statements to support whatever I’m currently working on in myself. I move my body. I look in the mirror, take responsibility for my choices, face my challenges, and own my own shit.  I love and honor myself. I choose the words I use with myself and others and try to make sure they come from a positive place. I laugh, smile, sing/dance, and act silly whenever possible. I explore new options. I stay open to new practices and possibilities.  I live a life of authenticity and intention. I know this sounds like a lot….and it is. It took me a long time to get here, and now most of it is second nature. Of course there are days where I’m running around as if my hair is on fire, and I slip and don’t do all of it; but if I do that too often I really feel the difference.  The bottom line is that I know what makes me feel good, and I’m in charge of how I feel. I can choose to do what feeds my soul, or I can choose another path and not feel my best self. My commitment to myself is to keep taking steps in the right direction, even if they are small.