How to Practice Self Care, for Real People
Have you ever read an article about self-care and thought, “who has time for all of that?” Yea me too. Often when I read about self-care I feel like I am reading a fantasy novel. “Meditate one hour, read for at least an hour a day, give yourself a half hour of quiet to sit and think”
Wow, that sounds great! Now let me go clean up the cat puke, do the dishes, laundry and work 10 hours a day. For those of us who have two jobs, three kids and a host of other things to do here is a practical way to practice self-care.
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What is Self-Care?
Self-care is not an ultra indulgent spa day once a week. It is not selfishly ignoring the rest of the world in order to take care of yourself. Self-care is a way to take care of you; mind, body, and soul. It is a way to keep your mental balance, your sanity, and your physical health. Things like meditation, reading, and exercising all fall under the heading of “self-care”.
Why You Should Practice Self-Care
If you have ever flown on an airplane, you have heard the stewardesses speech about putting the oxygen mask on yourself before you help anyone else. You should do this because if you put the mask on your child, and then pass out, your child will have no one to look out for them. (and it would probably scare them to see you in that state)
The same goes for self-care. If you are so worn out you can barely stand, you probably can not take good care of your family, home, job etc. If you have a thousand things running through your head, chances are you are going to forget a few things. One of those things might be something very important to you or someone you care about.
This is why it is important to practice self-care. It gives you a chance to focus, get rid of stress, and have a few precious minutes to concentrate on healing yourself.
The Golden Hour, or Maybe Half Hour
Recently I was listening to a Dan Miller podcast and he talked about “the golden hour”. The Golden hour is the first hour of the day, and in his case, he uses it specifically to get his day going and balanced. The Golden hour is one of the best ways for real people to practice self-care.
So here is my Golden hour (ish)
- Alarm goes off at 5:15 am
- Alarm goes off again at 5:20 am
- I spend about 10 minutes stretching and slowly getting myself moving
- Shower. My brain isn’t working until this part.
- Turn on a daily devotional or short podcast
- Get dressed, brush teeth and hair etc. while I listen
- Make lunch while I listen.
- Stop. For just a few minutes and breathe
- Out the door at 6:15 am
So I really do use a whole hour, but it isn’t solely dedicated to self-care. I use it to do all of the normal getting ready for work things, I just add a few things that help me start my day off right. Stretching, listening to something inspirational and most importantly stopping for just 5 minutes to be quiet and breathe.
This starts my day in a positive way and I always feel better when I do at least some type of self-care before I start my day.
Self Care, For Those With Children
Children add a whole new dimension to self-care, especially if they are little ones. The ‘golden hour’ for Mom’s and Dad’s may be more like the ‘golden 15 minutes’ or some mornings the ‘golden not at all’. So here are a few suggestions on self-care for the parent’s out there.
- Try and get up before your children. Even if it is just a half an hour before them, you can use that time to meditate, shower peacefully or listen to a podcast.
- Prepare the night before. If there are parts to lunches you can make or things you can set up the night before, do it. It will give you a little bit more time for your ‘golden hour’
- Give yourself a break. I can remember when my kids were small, days where it seemed like I couldn’t pee by myself. Someone was sick, someone needed something or someone couldn’t find something. Ahhhhhhh. Golden what? On those days, take what you can get. If you get 5 minutes, stop and breathe, if you get 15 stretch and breathe.
- Take your ‘golden hour’ in the evening. I don’t think the evening self-care works as well as the morning, but it certainly helps, especially after a really long day. So if you had no shot at a morning hour, take some time in the evening to do some stretching, meditate, listen to a podcast, watch a TED talk, or read the Bible.
Self-care is all about doing something beneficial for your mind, body or soul. Some days it may be taking a walk or a jog, some days it may be meditation, some days reading scripture. When the kids are little you need the time to recharge your batteries. So take what you can get, but be sure you get something!