Self-care. What is it? I had never actually heard of this concept until a few years ago.
Self-care comprises those activities performed independently by an individual to promote and maintain personal well-being throughout life. — Dorothea Orem, RN, BSN, MNE
As entrepreneurs, we wear many different hats – business owner, mom, chaffer, cook, wife – and often our own selves come in last place. But then we feel frazzled, burned out, and start to fray around the edges if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Have you ever felt this way? And with the holidays fast approaching, its so important more than ever to care for ourselves so we can love and care for those around us!
Biblically, God calls us to this practice as well. We are called to love ‘your neighbor AS YOURSELF.’ That means you have to love yourself, and loving yourself is taking good care of yourself.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 28-31
Learning how to take care of myself is a lesson that I continue to learn again and again. When I feel the overwhelmed feeling start to rise, or I look up from a hectic week and realize I haven’t had much time alone, I know I need to re-evaluate my self care regimen, which consists of my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Here are some ways that I practice self-care:
1. SLEEP!: We all know how important sleep is, and getting enough sleep is the difference between a rested entrepreneur and a restless one! Don’t let the demands of each day keep you from going to bed at a decent hour. If you have more to do, put it away and leave it til tomorrow. (Read: 12 Steps to Improve Your Sleep)
2. Be STILL time: meditation, time with God, and time to be still and process. Often we are going at such a fast pace, that taking time to be quiet feels unproductive, but this is time that I cherish most of all. All other times of the day I’m being pulled (sometimes literally by a toddler!) in all directions. This time is sacred with me and my Savior. (Read: Experiencing God Through Meditation)
3. Exercise: I’ll admit, this one is hard for me to schedule in but I’ve found that my lunch hour is a great time to get away and get in a good walk, Zumba or spin class. I always, ALWAYS feel so much better the rest of the day and I have to remind myself of that whenever I don’t want to go!
4. Food: Healthy food is fuel for your active body. Of course I love frozen yogurt or cookies when I need some extra love, but I try to eat healthy, real food otherwise. Wake up and eat breakfast – filled with protein and grab some fruit too. Recently I’ve been packing my own healthy snacks and that’s helped tremendously. I pack a sandwich bag of carrots, grab an apple and carry a Lara bar in my purse. That way if hunger strikes while I’m out and about, I will have healthy options instead of grabbing that Snickers bar I want.
5. Medical care: schedule those doctors appointments that you’ve been avoiding (like the OB or your mammogram), refill your prescriptions and go pick them up, go to the dermatologist. While it sounds routine, these are the things that get pushed off our calendars so easily. Then that annual exam turns into a once every 3-years exam!
6. Leisure activities: What do you love to do? What is FUN for you? Bike riding? Walking at your favorite park? Volunteering at an organization you love? Calling a friend to catchup. Do something fun and just for you this week.
7. Journaling: This is one of my favorites. My friends and family know that I have my journal with me at all times. I’m a geek and I love to take notes during church, or write down prayer requests of friends so I don’t forget. I also write out stream of consciousness thoughts and journal out prayers. I have been doing this for more than 10 years, and it’s amazing to go back and read them to see the journey that God has brought me on. It also forces me to take the time to slow down and WRITE out what I’m feeling. It really helps me process.
8. Counseling: What would I do without counseling? For me, it’s a safe place to let my guard down. To really be brutally, totally, crazy honest about everything I’m feeling and all that’s going on in my life. My counselor helps me be gracious with myself, reminds me of important truths and helps me get to know myself better. I’m a HUGE advocate of counseling. If you’ve been before and didn’t have a great experience, make sure you find a counselor that you “click” with – otherwise it won’t feel like a safe place for you.
None of what I listed above probably shocked you… so why is this so hard for us to do? I think we forget that we’re stewards of our bodies that God has given us. We focus so much on others that we put ourselves last. My counselor challenges me to remember to take time for myself, because when I’m at my best then I can serve others in my life WELL.
Examples of some healthy self care goals:
- I won’t skip any meals today, even if I have to grab something small.
- Sunday night, I will sit down to look at my calendar and plan healthy meals.
- I will go for a walk Tuesday and Thursday during my lunch break.
- I will go to bed by 11 pm so that I will wake up rested.
- I will journal at least 3 times this week.
- I will ask my friends for a good counselor recommendation.
Self-care is not something that happens by accident, it’s something that you have to make a priority in your life.