Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” When asked to refrain from teaching this, he chose to end his life by drinking hemlock. For the last few weeks, this phrase keeps coming up in conversation which prompted me to write about it.
How does examining one’s life relate to self-care? Because part of self-care is learning to listen to our “inner voice” and become clear about who we are and what is truly nourishing. Not in a self-centered way but a self-respectful one. However, in today’s frenetic, “need to do one more thing” culture, we often don’t slow down and get quiet enough to hear what our “inner voice” is saying.
Likewise, it’s easier (and less painful) to lose ourselves in what we’re doing and what needs to be done than reflect on who we are and what we may need to change to create our best life. For example, someone who is in an unhappy marriage may focus their attention and energy on their children to protect them from knowing how miserable they are. Or a woman who has a demanding parent may exhaust herself trying to appease them rather than look at her own co-dependent need to be needed.
When we choose self-care, we send a message to ourselves that we are important and that our health-body, mind, heart and soul, is a priority. We quiet the noise of other voices and instead attend to own. Dangerous yes, but totally worthwhile!
What do you think???
Even when you practice self-care daily, you won’t always feel good especially if you’re going through a major life change. Times in women’s lives when significant physical, mental, emotional and situational changes collide include becoming a mom, adolescence, leaving home, getting married, getting divorced, losing a parent, perimenopause and menopause.
Here are the range of postpartum emotions women report, “I am so irritable. I am full of awe. I cry all the time. I can’t sleep. I am so in love. I can’t get going. I can’t think straight. I feel so worried. I am so bored. I can’t feel anything. I have scary thoughts. I am ecstatic. I grieve for my old life. I feel like a failure. I feel so alone. I feel so nervous. I feel I’ve made a huge mistake.”
Doesn’t this sound like how you feel when experiencing a life-changing event whether motherhood-related or not? Last week we wrote about letting go of our “Motherhood is Bliss” myth. Likewise when you go through a major life change, it’s impossible to feel good all the time. Because we are spiritual beings having a human existence, we are going to experience emotional ups and downs in response to what’s happening.
So next time you’re feeling bad when a major life shift occurs, take a deep breath and remind yourself it’s normal. Just another part of life.
However, if bad feelings persist, call your health provider to rule out a significant physical or emotional health condition, e.g.diabetes, depression.
Have you noticed that we live in an achievement-oriented society (at least those
of us in the U.S.)? Many people feel like they are wasting time if they are not
producing, attaining or completing something. It can get exhausting at times!
Sometimes the only occasion we give ourselves a break is on vacation and many
times even those are meticulously planned out to the minute, leaving little real
When is the last time that you aspired to “underachieve?” I’m talking about
taking a day off to do “nothing” like watching TV, movies, reading a book,
staying in your pajamas, eating ice cream? Have a day to turn off your phone and
computer, to not do any errands or chores, take a nap or go within? When is the
last time you were able to take a whole day to “play it by ear?” I hope your answer involves some time recently, but if it doesn’t, why not“ try underachievement”soon?
When you give yourself permission to not do anything productive, there’s
no reason to feel guilty. You may, however, feel a little pampered – and that’s
generally a pretty good feeling!
Today’s guest author, Stacey Glaesmann, LPC has a private counseling practice in Pearland, Texas where she specializes in treating perinatal mood disorders. She wrote her first book, “What About Me? A Simple Guide to Self-Care in the 21st Century” in 2007. She can be reached through her website at www.pearlandtherapy.com.
As a mom of two teenagers and a toddler, organization and routine is important to decrease stress and maintain a healthy balance in my home.
Below are some ways
that I do this:
Schedule family time: Allow your children to help plan a weekly family night. An example is renting videos and watching them at home with favorite movie snacks to enjoy. During family night, rules should be established, such as no texting or taking phone calls.
Choose chores: Because everyone’s schedules are busier now, it is helpful to have a family meeting where everyone can decide which chores they will be responsible for.
Homework: By providing your children a calendar and having one for yourself, both of you can jot down any special dates and scheduled tests. Staying organized is the key to a successful school year!
Observe child’s behavior: Be mindful of any changes in behavior, sleep, and eating behaviors.
Offer support and solutions: Be your child’s strongest advocate. Reach out to teacher s and counselors to help you and your child.
Listen: Use car rides home and dinner time to talk with your child.
Real Mom Lisa
Today’s guest author is Lisa Salazar, MA, LMFT, LPC who is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She has been married for 18 years and has 3 children. Books in the Burbs is a blog that Lisa maintains to write book reviews.
Here’s part 2 of what you can do to maintain your health and sanity.
- Ask for help. Speak with family and friends about how they can help especially if you’ve just had a new baby. Be direct about the kinds of help you will appreciate, both childcare assistance and emotional support. Research has shown that you benefit most from support if it’s what you need, not what others might imagine you need.
- Nurture your sense of humor. The ability to step back and laugh at life’s challenges and frustrations is an asset. If you can see anything funny in what you’re going through, imagine looking back on this scene two or three years from now. Believe it or not, some of your worst days now will make great stories later on.
- Self-Acceptance: One of the hardest habits is learning to love ourselves wholly with our strengths and limitations. Practice unconditional love and positive regard towards yourself because you are a unique, special person. For no other reason than that. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Make your motherhood and life journey your own.
If you can practice one or two of these habits weekly, kudos to you. If there’s one which appeals to you, try it 2-3 times a week or daily for 10-15 minutes. Make it your goal over the next few months to experiment with adding each of these to your weekly/daily life. Remember, motherhood is a lifetime journey and self-care is the key to emotional health and happiness.
While this article was originally written for new moms, it offers advice which all women can benefit from. If you don’t have children, think of all the people in your life you care for and how that affects you. All women need self-care to stay healthy and sane.
7 Sanity Saving Tips:
- Care for your children by caring for yourself. Practice our “Five A Day.” Eat, sleep, get regular physical activity, rest/take breaks and connect with yourself and others. Put your oxygen mask on first, so you have the energy and vitality to be the mom your children deserve.
- Take three to four hours a week for “me-time.” You may think you can run full-tilt 24/7, but your body and mind was not designed for this. You need periods of rest-oration for optimal health. Without refilling your pitcher, you will feel depleted, exhausted, impatient and resentful.
- Know yourself. The greater your need for control, the more likely you are to come unraveled as a mom when life runs itself. Try cutting back before children. Start removing items from your “to-do list” and prioritizing what is truly important. Practice not having things “just so” for improved adjustment.
- Notice your accomplishments (even if no one else does). Put your attention on what you’re getting done instead of where you’re falling short. Keep a jar and every time you do something, drop a coin in. Change a diaper-a coin, feed your baby-a coin, bathe your baby-a coin. It adds up fast.
Part 2 next Monday🙂
“For those of you who feel overwhelmed and yet can’t see what you could eliminate from your schedule, I’d like to address a few things here. First, I want you to know that life really isn’t a competition. I think we can all agree that a little competitiveness is good-it motivates, keeps us on our toes and helps us do our best. But when you feel everything you do is being compared to someone else, it can make you a little crazy!
I’m not knocking being the best at something. But there are tons of other positions in life. You’re probably familiar with them despite killing your Self to be number one. I’m urging you right now to just do the best you can (and let your kids do the same) and then relax.
Instead of ‘putting your fingers in so many pies’ I’m urging you to limit your kids’ activities to one, maybe two, things a week. Just think how much more family time you’ll have! I’m urging you to choose one, maybe two volunteer activities you feel passionate about and let the others go. You will find you have more time and energy than you’ve had in a long time. Believe me when I say no one is judging you for what you are or aren’t doing. Everyone is too wrapped up in their own lives to give yours more than a brief notice.”
Today’s author is Stacey Glaesmann, MA, LPC. Her book is What About Me?