Welcome to Day 5! You made it to the end!
Today is all about sticking with our self-care resolve! The video covers a lot, so it’s longer than the others have been. But I think it has a lot of value. 🙂
Let’s recap the week:
Day 1: we reframed our image of self-care and gave ourselves permission to practice it.
Day 2: we spent some time identifying our needs in three categories: physical, mental, and spiritual.
Day 3: we made 1-2 written goals for each category of needs.
Day 4: we made a step-by-step plan to achieve our goals! ***I forgot to add this yesterday! When making your plans, you can delineate what self-care to practice daily, weekly, monthly, and beyond. This can really help you not to feel overwhelmed.***
Now we’ve arrived at Day 5, where I want to focus on encouraging you to actually implement your plans and to stick with your resolve!
Ideally, we want self-care to become second nature to us!
There’s some debate about how long it takes to form a new habit. Some experts say 21 days, others say it’s (more realistically) 66 — still others say it may even take close to a year! The time it takes to form a habit also varies widely depending on your personality and your circumstances.
Whatever amount of time it takes, each of us has to put in the work, to keep practicing self-care until it is a well-formed habit.
Personally, I would love for my self-care plan to turn into a habitual routine — something that I don’t think twice about doing, like brushing my teeth!
But HOW do we DO that??? This is the million dollar question, my friends. 🙂
And the answer will look different for each of us. (Sorry if you were expecting me to give it to you 😉 )
But we can start with these 2 principles:
1) Self-care is a way of loving myself and others — a way to practice charity. Therefore, self-care is a virtue. And like all virtues (which are by definition habits, by the way), self-care takes effort to master. But the effort is good because what we get in the end — the habit of virtue — is good.
2) We will never be perfect at self-care. Because life isn’t perfect. The last thing we want is for self-care to become another burden for us to shoulder. So, take a deep breath. And keep on trying.
Here’s the thing, mamas. We can always come up with excuses for why we shouldn’t take care of our own needs.
There will be days or even seasons when life wants to swallow us up in busyness or hardships — like when the children are very small. Or when one of our teens has a crisis, or someone gets ill, or the husband loses his job. Or fill-in-the-blank with just about any other thing! There is always something. And maybe it’s not seasons, maybe it’s just life in a fallen world.
But, I believe, that keeping our minds focused on self-care as a good can go a long way for our resolve. Rather than give up on self-care during those times, we should try all the more to make the time to nurture ourselves — because it’s during the hardest days and months and years when we actually most need to.
Let me give you a perfect example from my own crazy life.
In November of 2015, after a year of trying to figure out why I had been feeling so awful, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. (Not just a case where my doc suspected it; I actually tested positive.) Not from a fresh tick bite, but Lyme had been wreaking havoc in my body by stealth for a long time. So I don’t just have Lyme, but I have chronic Lyme.
If you don’t know anything much about Lyme, I’ll just say that it’s very, very hard to get rid of, and the longer it goes untreated, the harder it is for a body and mind to heal.
As you might suspect, dealing with a chronic illness on top of wifing, homeschooling, homemaking, and raising our four hooligans, is difficult. Some days I feel pretty good. But other days, I’m barely making it and everything is 10x harder to do than it would be for my “normal” self.
Surprisingly, it’s on my hardest days that I start to have the wrong mindset about self-care. You see, I get frustrated that I can’t do.all.the.things. that I may have on my list. And I feel like a pretty lousy human being.
UNTIL I step back, and practice some self-care. I have to actively give myself permission to rest, to take care of my physical needs, to connect with a friend to lift my spirits, or whatever else it may be. And I have to let go of my to-do list, with all the demands of the house work and laundry and the demands of other people — even though those people may be dear to me!
And I have to choose to love myself.
So, mamas, if I can do it, you can it too!!! 🙂
Now, here are some tips for staying the self-care course:
- Be flexible. When we make plans, it’s easy for us to think it has to be this way or I just can’t do it. But that way of thinking will leave us neglecting our needs pretty quickly. Life happens. Kids get sick, we don’t get all our errands accomplished, husbands have needs too…the list goes on. When we’re flexible in our self-care routines, then we can be sure to do something for ourselves — even if it’s not our original plan. So be flexible. Keep a “Plan B” written down somewhere that you can implement if your “Plan A” doesn’t work out.
- Keep it visual. Display your self-care goals and plans! Put them on your bulletin board or your fridge, tape them to your bathroom mirror, or your car steering wheel! Out of sight out of mind…but when in sight, it brings delight! 🙂
- Get techy. Do you have a smartphone? Or an iPad? Add your self-care plans to your digital calendars and then set alarm reminders to follow through! Even if it’s just taking that nap. [Side note: I love the TimeTree app (it’s free!) for use on a smartphone — it’s a great family calendar and that way your hubs can see your self-care plans, too.]
- Start small DAILY. I know that many of you are wondering how you’re going to actually implement any of your plans regularly since real life is already so hectic. So I say to that, you are the boss of your time. Days with young children (or any children? I haven’t gotten past a 7-year-old!) are unpredictable and messy and never quite go as planned. BUT. Daily self-care doesn’t have to be a big production. If you feel overwhelmed with even starting your self-care routine, carve out the time for just one small thing. And go from there.
- Pray for your success. This might sound silly, but I think there’s something to it — ask the Lord to help you to make your self-care happen!! Ask Him to show you creative ways that you can implement your plans! He cares about even these seemingly “little” details of our lives. Which are really not so little, considering that we are trying to eliminate our burn out so that we can be the women He has created us to be!
- Keep the right mindset. Self-care is a virtue! Embrace it, strive for it, but don’t let it burden you unduly.
- Remember your worth. God created us for flourishing! You are WORTH IT, mama. Choose to love yourself this way. This kind of self-love is also life-giving. Because it doesn’t stop with you. You are loving yourself in order that you may love your neighbor as yourself!
So, for our final Challenge, use some of these tips to implement part or all of your self-care plan for the day. Get your self-care party started! I’m so excited for you, mamas!
Thank you so much for embarking on this self-care journey with me! I truly hope this Challenge blessed you in some way. Come back to it again whenever you need a new spark of self-care resolve. May God give you the grace to flourish in your vocations!