Take A Shower! The Importance of Self-Care

Image by Ken Boyd from Pixabay 
I took a very hot and very long shower.

Not solely because I hadn't showered in a few days. Though, having been sequestered for weeks due to the pandemic, I think we're all losing track of the days (and showers) at times.

No, the reason I needed a shower was because I woke up with puffy, swollen eyes from crying the night before.

The slower pace of being home together during the pandemic can be a wonderful thing as a family, but it also has its downside. Between not being able to socialize and not having the privacy we normally enjoy, we can get cranky, irritable and impatient with each other.

That night was one of those rare moments of cherished family time, when we were all in the same room, enjoying a family activity. No small feat with teens in the house. A minor irritant was voiced, and the dominoes tumbled. Things were said in a tense moment, which no one intended to sound the way they did. 

As the shower relaxed the puffiness from my eyes and the tension of this mama's shoulders, I was taken back to the days of mothering two very young children, when it was such a treasure to escape to a hot shower.

In that flashback, I realized the treasure of self-care was exactly what I needed.

After several weeks of being under the stay home order, I've relapsed into the habit of putting myself last. Our schedule has been thrown off track. It really is hard at times to keep up with what day it is. In caring for and being available for my family during this pandemic, I find myself on-call once again, anticipating the coveted moments of connection, and filling the space in between with whatever else needs to be done. We are having more conversations these days, a true blessing, but if I'm brutally honest, those other needs I'm filling that in-between time with are just that, fillers. Good things to check off my to-do list, but they're not the things that nourish my body, mind or soul.

Part of the reason I'm having so much trouble with self-care is the current lack of accountability. I don't need to be presentable for meetings, or schedule my time around all the other daily outings we normally did pre-pandemic. Being at home has always taken an extra measure of intentionality to get things done that need to be done, but this pandemic has raised it to a whole other level.

In the weeks we've been home, I've gained as much weight as I did over the winter, and am over the "oh, heck no!" point I established when I first lost the weight 4 years ago. I haven't been walking much. I've been in the kitchen far too often, eating way too much of the wrong stuff. I've been sitting around, looking at too much social media and likely fake news. I've neglected regular showering, let alone other necessities of self-care.

Yes, necessities.
  • Time with God
  • Time alone (or at least quiet time)
  • Conversations with friends
  • Reading
  • Walking
  • Writing
  • Healthy eating 
  • A shower
Things that fill my bucket and actually energize me, giving me a larger capacity from which to serve others and take care of the more mundane tasks on that to-do list. 

Why do we, as women and mamas, tend to put ourselves last and ignore that if we don't take care of ourselves, we won't be able to effectively serve our families and other loved ones? In our caretaker/fixer/mediator type personalities, why is it we don't fill our own buckets with things that nourish our mind, body and soul?

I've found myself accomplishing a lot of unimportant busywork, while letting the important things fall by the wayside. I even started using a new organization app earlier this year for the purpose of prioritizing that which fulfills me...

Yet I keep tapping "reschedule."

Just because we find ourselves in a time of being sequestered at home does not mean that we shouldn't prioritize ourselves and be a better example for our families. When I fall into that trap of doing only for others or just checking off the fillers on my list, I'm not setting a good example for anyone. Do I want them doing the same thing for themselves and their future families? No! My hope is that they will love and serve their families from a place of abundance, not from emptiness.

The only way we can get to that place of abundance is by nourishing our own body, mind and soul.

There were several times when Jesus chose to slip away and regroup. He intentionally chose to pull away from the crowds, the activity and the demands of his ministry to find solitude and rest in God. This is how he dealt with the demands, pressures and emotions. This is how he taught and led others. This is how he prepared for the cross.

Luke 5:16 (NIV) tells us that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." He knew what he needed in order to be most effective. He needed to be filled.

The question is, how to define what is truly a need?

Is it to scroll through the news or social media black hole several times a day? Or am I better served by going for that walk and clearing my head, or maybe just taking a hot shower? Yes, questions need to be answered and I need to know what's going on around the world (to a degree), but endless scrolling through headlines is not going to get me there. It's more likely to get me depressed. However, if I'm doing something that fills me, I'm more likely to be energized and happier.

The dictionary definition of need is something "required because it is essential or very important." My personal definition of need is a bit more specific: an activity (or lack of) that fills me on a physical, emotional or spiritual level.

One thing I've been mentally beating myself up over is getting behind in posting encouragement here and on social media, in a time when we need it most. I'm trying to get back on track with the things that fill me, including healthy habits, studying, and this ministry of encouragement. I recently had an epiphany while walking the dog - I can dictate my notes for a post while walking. I don't have to worry about finding extra time to sit down at a blank screen to figure out what I'm going to say. You may think that is a simple and obvious thing, but with mom brain on top of fibrofog, the obvious solutions aren't always so obvious (and I'm betting I'm not the only one).

Obvious solutions like self-care.

It's time to work smarter, not harder. That's how we'll find the time to take care of ourselves and then our loved ones. After walking the dogs, my endorphins were up, so I felt better physically and emotionally, plus I got this post into my notes, all of which fills my bucket, and hopefully helps serve someone else who needed to hear this message today.

What do you define as your self-care needs? Take a few moments and really think about this. Make a list and pick the top three you want to make a priority for today. Share them in the comments below, and let's explore together what steps you can take toward ensuring your bucket is being filled.

Comments

  1. Laura, thank you for writing with such transparency and intentionality. Nothing about this time of isolation is easy for singles, couples, or families. You have helped others to know they are not alone. We have to meet our own needs in order to be ready to assist others. Bless you for posting!

    ReplyDelete

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This is a safe place for women who need encouragement and inspiration, where we can share our struggles and triumphs. Let us lift each other up, as well as honor and respect the individual journeys we are all traveling. Blog posts are from the journey I travel, which I hope will encourage and inspire you as you live your own adventure.

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