Lately I have been very busy and my vegetable garden has not been given the attention it deserves. I never intended to let my garden go by the wayside, but life just got in the way. To remedy that, I went outside yesterday to give my garden a little love and my plants did not look happy. Did I berate myself for neglecting the plants? Not at all. Instead, I watered them, pulled a few weeds, and gave them some plant food. When I was done, I stood back and admired my work. Then it occurred to me that I didn’t think twice about giving them the care that they needed to be healthy and happy plants, but I rarely do the same for myself. So why is it that caring for my vegetable garden comes naturally to me but taking care of myself doesn’t?
Self-care is a new-ish term for me. When I provided counseling at a local high school, I worked closely with another counselor. He always stressed self-care, so every single time I entered his office, he would ask me “What are you doing for self-care?” At first, I had no idea what to say and that bothered me. I was throwing all of my emotional energy into counseling the students, but how was I taking care of myself? Each subsequent time I saw him, I felt the need to answer his question with something other than a blank stare. This self-imposed pressure forced me to actually think about how I take care of myself and I realized that I really didn’t. I am so much kinder to others and feel like I am being selfish if I take time to take care of myself.
I am someone who loves to nurture and, if I want to help and take care of others, I need to be in a good place. If I don’t take care of my needs first, then there is no way I can be of any use to anyone else. When I take care of myself, it not only benefits my mental and physical healthy but also the relationships I have with the people around me.
Since I’ve started incorporating self-care into my day, I realized that it doesn’t have to be something big like giving myself a vacation on a white sandy beach. Self-care can take many forms and I believe that doing things that I enjoy is one of them. These are the things that bring me joy:
- getting into a bed with clean sheets
- taking a hot shower
- a good workout
- spending time with my husband
- petting my cats
- feeling the breeze on my face as I ride my bike on the trail
- playing my piano
- watching my cats bop each other on the head
- feeling the sun on my skin on a warm spring day
- going for a walk
- listening to music1
- escaping reality by drowning myself in a good book
- getting a massage
- meditation and/or yoga
- feeling my cat purr while she lays on my chest2
- eating a really good donut
There are also other forms of self-care that don’t necessarily made me giddy but are still necessary to my overall wellbeing:
- getting my pap smear and my blood drawn even though they give me the heebie jeebies
- setting boundaries
- making sure that I get a good night’s sleep
- taking care of my health even if sometimes it’s a challenge3
- asking for help
- eating emotionally when that is my only coping strategy at the moment4
- making sure I eat after a workout or during times of stress even when my appetite is nowhere to be found
- taking my medication despite the side effects
- allowing myself to say “no”
While self-care has been a positive addition to my life, it is not always easy because life sometimes pulls me in so many different directions. When this happens, I always remind myself that taking a few minutes of me-time every day is still beneficial and 10 minutes of self-care is still self-care. This is especially true when challenges are present. If I ever feel the stress coming on, I remind myself of how I treat my vegetable garden or even how I would treat a pet or a child, and I apply that same level of care and compassion to myself. Why? Because I’m worth it.
What does your self-care look like? Please share in the comment section below.
1I’ve noticed that the 90’s music that I used to listen to is now considered classic rock. I think I’m getting old.
2Did any of you notice that I mentioned my cats three times and my husband only once? That doesn’t seem right.
3This reminds me of something! Some people ask “What about my health? I have been diagnosed with X. Can I still be be an intuitive eater?” Yes, you can! The Intuitive Eating authors state that “respecting your body means taking care of your health”.
4I then reflect and come up with other coping strategies that I can use next time. This is all a learning experience.
Thank you so much for reading my blog! I am honored that you chose to read about my experience.
You’ve made it this far. Now subscribe for regular updates. It’s easy! And you get a FREE intuitive eating quiz and a mini e-book when you sign up!
YouTube Version: Coming soon!