Everyone keeps saying you need to take care of yourself. You know they’re right, but you don’t have time to practice self-care everyday.
That is due in large part to the many misconceptions surrounding self-care today.
We’re going to bust those myths and discover the truth about self care for women. (Prepare to be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.)
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What is Self-Care?
The first step to starting a self care routine is understanding what self care is and isn’t. Someone online mentioned that self care has been glamorized over the past couple of years. Her point being that social media is filled with photos of women sipping wine in a bubble bath, or sitting in a plush robe applying an expensive serum to their dewy skin.
Then, there’s the other end of the spectrum with memes about worn out women desperate for a bottle of wine.
Self care is neither a scapegoat nor an extravagant luxury reserved for influencers. It’s also not always about getting away from the kids and spending time alone. In my own experience, self care is any action that fills your cup, nourishes your soul, and allows you show to up fully in life.
What are the Four Categories of Self-Care?
When I was in college studying to be a teacher, we learned to teach the whole child: physical, spiritual, social/emotional and mental. Since then, I’ve been reminded many times over we’re multidimensional beings, and what we do in one area of our life affects the others.
And so it is with self-care. In order to truly take care of yourself, your self-care and wellness practice should include:
- Physical Self Care – This is pretty much what it sounds like. We need to spend time tending to our physical needs: eating well, getting exercise, drinking plenty of water and getting fresh air.
- Social/Emotional Self Care – This is where our relationship with ourselves and others comes into play. It can be strange to think of being in a relationship with yourself, but we are called to love ourselves as we love others. Can you imagine loving yourself the way you love others? Bending over backwards to make sure their needs are met, that the people in your life feel nurtured, loved and cared for. Wow! That’s something I need to meditate on.
- Mental Self Care – Incorporating mental self care includes learning, growing and thinking. It’s staying connected to who we are as a person, not just as a wife or mother.
- Spiritual Self Care – Spiritual self care allows us to connect with God and find meaning and purpose.
4 Incredible Benefits of Practicing Self-Care
Real self-care has lasting effects and long-term benefits. It’s kind of like a preservative protecting you from the destructive nature of exhaustion, burn out and overwhelm.
In my own life I’ve noticed I quit daydreaming about escaping to the beach so the waves could wash all my stress away. I believe that’s a direct result of these other benefits of self care:
- Discovering Mindfulness – I have to say I believe the biggest benefit of self care is what I believe it means to be sober minded; mindfulness. When were’re mindful, we’re alert, aware, present and ready. Busyness has become such a status symbol and measure of self worth in our society, I don’t think we recognize it as a trap. When we’re mindful, we are present in the moment. And we get to enjoy those moments so much more.
- Increased Self Worth – When I started my self care journey, it was as if every little action, even just washing my face, was like a little love note from God. Those love notes did a lot to buoy my soul and increase my self worth.
- Finding Contentment – The more you realize your own worth, the easier it is to be content with who you are. In that contentment, we stop trying so hard to prove ourselves. We get to just be. I can tell you there’s no better feeling. It’s the freedom we’re meant to live in.
- Better Health – Practicing self care reduces stress which results in increased energy and a better mood.
Importance of Self-Care for Women
I noticed my then four-year-old daughter wasn’t eating her breakfast. When I asked her to eat, she said she couldn’t because she needed to lose weight. I cringed knowing she learned that from me.
I share that story to say, how we live our lives matters. We are models for our children. Not only that, our children need healthy, happy women in their lives. Although, it would be years later before I really learned that lesson.
I knew I’d reached a place where I needed to leave the classroom. That still, small voice had been calling me home for the past couple of years. But, I ignored it, despite my failing health and crumbling marriage.
I spent every day of my life trying to measure up, going along with what other people wanted for me, and doing what I thought was expected of me. And I was miserable.
So one Monday morning I woke up and quit my job. I never in a million years would have done something like that if I weren’t completely maxed out. All that was left of me was a shell of the woman, wife and mother I wanted to be.
This is why I’m so passionate about self care. Not just for me, but for you. It’s important for all us so we don’t get buried beneath roles and responsibilities, hide behind the shadows of others, and lose ourselves beyond recognition; forgetting who we are created to be and the freedom we’re meant to enjoy.
Is Self-Care Being Selfish?
I know we women worry that taking care of ourselves is selfish.
We’ve grown so uncomfortable with the word self, and the idea of focusing on ourselves. Our answer has been to either switch out the word self for soul, or to justify taking care of ourselves by saying it’s so we can serve others.
But, here’s the truth about self care for women.
It is not wrong or selfish to spend time on yourself, to love yourself, and to care for yourself.
I firmly believe self care is a portal to casting our cares, letting go of our burdens, and reaching a place of not just physical, but spiritual rest. Self care prunes, grows and leads us, doing away with the things in this life that have dimmed our light.
Self care is necessary for you to become. And then, in your becoming, you can show up and shine your light for others.
So how, as women, can we take care of ourselves?
21 Creative Self-Care Ideas
Real self-care is not limited to a weekly self care day or tying to find time to be alone, although those things are nice. A good self-care routine allows you to integrate self care into your every day life, rather than trying to find a separate time for it.
- Take a family walk or bike ride
- Play at the park with your kids. Let yourself be a kid again. Play on the monkey bars. Throw a frisbee, kick a ball around or play catch.
- Have a picnic in your backyard or at a local park. Or just dine outside at a restaurant.
- Try mommy and baby yoga. Or if you don’t have young children at home, sign up for an online yoga class.
- Stretch before you get out of bed
- Sneak vegetables into family meals
- Schedule exercise time with a friend. I used to meet my next door neighbor on her lunch break (she works from home) and we’d walk the neighborhood, stroller and all. I also used to go with a friend to a free workout class at her church where childcare was provided. The YMCA offers childcare as well.
- Meet with other moms for play dates. Meeting at the mall or Chick-fil-a was a lifesaver for me when my daughter was little.
- Plan a girl’s night out. Everyone needs time with friends.
- Spend alone time with your spouse or partner– If you need a babysitter, sometimes day cares or churches offer childcare on a weeknight so parents can go out.
- Text or call someone you miss – Life gets busy and we lose touch. Taking a minute to text or call someone you miss will fill that loss.
- Attend a bible study or join a book club or bunco group. – Finding a group of people with common interests is life giving. I’m too introverted for bunco, but I have been in book clubs, even if it was short-lived. And when my daughter was little I didn’t have a car, so I walked to the church around the corner from my house for bible study every week. I made some good friends during that season of life.
- Practice self compassion – As women, we can be so hard on ourselves. This is a good time to treat ourselves as we would others.
- Take the time to get dressed every morning – changing out of pajamas and into an outfit that you feel good in goes a long way in boosting your mood and setting your intention for the day.
- Declutter your space – Clutter is a visual burden that eventually crowds our minds with mental to do’s. Taking a few minutes to tidy up at the end of the evening will go a long way in keeping clutter away.
- Pursue hobbies and interests – Creativelive.com offers online classes in photography, design, business just to name a few. They also stream a handful of classes free 24/7 so you can drop in and watch for free.
- Process your feelings – your feelings are God-given guideposts to wellness. He will meet you in the process, lift you up and show you your next right step.
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Examine your faith – Sometimes we hold onto beliefs or systems we learned as a child, only to discover there may be some error or even false teaching involved (although well-meaning). It’s a good idea to examine what you’re being taught and trust that still, small voice.
- Determine your values and priorities – Knowing what you value will guide you establishing priorities and setting goals. It also makes it easier to cull and curate the life you want.
- Read books to help you mature in your faith, learn new skills, and challenge your thinking. No time to read? This busy woman shares how she finds the time.
Incorporating self care into the existing rhythms of your daily life allows you to make time for yourself more naturally and to develop a self-care routine you can stick to.
Some of your favorite self-care activities may involve products or paraphernalia. Having those items on hand will set you up for success when it comes to taking care of yourself. These are the tools and resources I’ve found most helpful in my own routine.
A life or goal planner – There are a lot of goal planners out there. If you’re just getting started, or if you’ve tried goal setting but it didn’t work for you, I highly recommend Lara Casey’s Powersheets Intentional Goal Planner. I absolutely love this planner. It’s very well thought out and walks you through the process step-by-step.
Outfit Formulas – The Outfit Formulas by Get Your Pretty On has been a game changer for me. Over time, I’ve been able to curate a wardrobe instead of closet full of clothes with nothing to wear. Plus, I don’t have to think about what to wear each day. And as I mentioned before, it’s a very tangible way to step into your identity and purpose each day.
The Real Food Reset – I knew if I was going to make progress with my physical health, real food was the answer. I was pleasantly surprised when my sugar cravings were replaced with real food cravings. The Real Food Reset did more than reset my diet. It started me on a journey to peace with food.
Home on Purpose: Mindful Living in a Hectic World – After I quit teaching, I started reorganizing my home. Little did I realize that just by clearing my space, I was opening a door to a spiritual world. It was like stepping through a wardrobe and seeing something mystical, something better than I could have imagined. I knew it was what home is meant to be.
This entire experience inspired me to write Home on Purpose: Mindful Living in a Hectic World. It covers all the cleaning and organizing bases you need to declutter your home, create household routines, and establish organization systems. You can grab your copy of the book on Amazon.
How to Start a Self-Care Routine
Making time for yourself as a busy woman probably seems counterintuitive. But, when we wade through all the ideals and preconceived notions surrounding self care, you just might feel less guilty about taking some much deserved time for yourself.
I’ve created a monthly self care calendar to help you build self care awareness and start your practice. It includes a list of thirty one quick self care ideas for you to pick and choose from throughout the month. These ideas can easily be integrated into your day and typically only take a few minutes.
Remember, a sustainable self care routine starts one habit at a time. As you build your routine, you’ll find these other posts helpful: