What is true self-care? Self-care is a term that is thrown around all the time in this generation.
I think it is because we’ve made life so very busy for ourselves that we’re now really finding out what the repercussions are.
However, self-care is so often misdefined. Self-care isn’t going for a manicure or getting pampered, although those can be part of it.
I would even venture as far as to say that self-care isn’t ‘me-time.’
There is so much more to self-care than getting a massage or taking a break for a cup of tea.
I want to talk about the true meaning of self-care and how to effectively sustain it as both a woman and a mother.
What is True Self-Care?
The first aspect of self-care is being mindful. If you are not mindful in knowing what you need and when you need it, then you cannot care for yourself properly.
So often burnout comes as a result of never properly stopping to rest and actually think about how we’re feeling and what we might need.
Mindfulness will go a long way in helping you prevent burnout from occurring. And then there’s the mental health aspect of it as well.
Feeding Your Soul
This is something that I feel very strongly about as someone who has faith in Christ.
There is a huge movement out there that is all about self-motivation, self-help, and ‘gettin’ your hustle on.’
I get it.
We are all capable of achieving great things if we only put our mind to it.
However, our minds are only as strong as what we put into them. Our mind needs to be fed. You need to be fed.
As a Christian, I believe that the most powerful way to feed your mind is from the Word of God.
It can be so easy to fill our spare minutes with inspirational Instagram feeds full of motivational quotes. But, as much as they can be encouraging, God’s Word is far more powerful.
He was the first one to truly show us our worth.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
He showed us that we are loved and valuable by sacrificing His very life for us.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29-31
The truth about what we are capable of doing through His power is written down in his Word for us to glean from.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13
And He also teaches us to show ourselves grace because that is the example that He gives us.
“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” – Psalm 103:14
Can I just make something very clear? No amount of pampering is going to help you if you’re not feeding your soul. Self-care…true self-care starts from the inside.
Caring for Your Body
Self-care is holistic. The physical and mental components of it are not autonomous.
You can take care of your body but have a messy mind. And you can take care of your mind, but if you don’t care for your body it will eventually impact that as well.
There’s nothing wrong with going for a manicure or a massage, but when I talk about caring for your body, I actually mean just the very basics.
As mothers (and especially new mothers) we can easily buy into the lie that we’re supposed to be martyrs for our children.
We sacrifice even the most basic of self-care. Hygiene and nutrition.
This might not be a popular opinion, but your baby is not going to be harmed in any way if they cry for five minutes while you take a quick shower.
Yes, your job is to love and nurture them. Yes, there are sacrifices that we make as parents, but it needs to be balanced.
As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Fit in a daily shower and eat. I’m not even talking about a hugely healthy diet. If you’re just starting out, then at least be sure that you’re eating.
And of course, rest and sleep are both important physically and mentally.
However you can, work some kind of rest into your day.
How to Sustain Self-Care:
It Has to Happen Daily
Self-care is not going to be effective if you only practice it on the odd occasion. True self-care needs to be habitual. It needs to be something that is done almost on auto-pilot.
Work it into your daily routine and stay faithful to it.
Women reach the point of burnout all the time because they go until they can’t go anymore. The point of self-care is to prevent that from happening.
Learn to rest not to quit.
Self-care is not a recovery program.
It isn’t meant to be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. It has to happen daily, throughout the day in order to be sustained. Which brings me to the next point…
You Have to Make an Effort
Self-care is no one else’s responsibility but your own. You are the caretaker of your mind and body, which means you are the one that needs to do whatever it takes to care for yourself.
That might mean making sacrifices in order to fulfill your needs.
You could be forgiven for thinking that self-care is meant to feel good. In truth, sometimes it doesn’t.
Just like exercise. It is what you need but it isn’t always (or ever) enjoyable.
A good place to start is with this post where I talk about setting up a productive schedule –> How to Have a Balanced + Productive Routine as a SAHM
Take baby steps. You don’t have to achieve it all in a day. Work on one area at a time and just do your best.
That will eventually lead to healthy habits that will help you sustain a good balance.
This piece originally appeared at www.christinekeys.net, published with permission.