Self-Care: A Personal Reflection
Ever wish you could escape your life… press the PAUSE button for one moment to regroup and breathe? You are not alone.
Let’s be honest, women in our society are programmed from early childhood to be responsible for everything and everyone around them. As designated “sensitive and nurturing” beings, we inherit the role of caretaker from a very young age. While it’s a wonderful gift to be giving yourself to others, most women inevitably fall to the bottom of their own list, neglecting their own emotional and physical needs. We are rarely taught the value of our own self-care. This paradigm is perpetuated generation after generation.I’m not ashamed to admit that, at many times in my life, I frantically wished for a secret trap door through which I could crawl— like Alice in Wonderland. “Responsibility” was been my middle name — it was in my DNA and exuded from my pores. I thought 24/7 about what I needed to do for others — husband, daughter, brothers, parents, friends, co-workers, employees, pets — all while operating a business, running a household, balancing financials, maintaining calendar commitments, participating in school committees, leading community fundraisers, and making sure I didn’t miss high profile social events. I was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.Reflecting on how I got to that self-sabotaging place, I realized I had been operating on “automatic” for far too many years. I’d put others’ needs before my own happiness, and these unhealthy learned behaviors had woven their way into my way of being. We have all felt that kind of weight bearing down on us at times. That overwhelming feeling of fatigue as your arms shake from holding up a ceiling to keep it all from caving in around you. What typically happens when we spend 100% of our energy focused on what we need to do for others? The answer is simple… we are sent into a state of imbalance and we fail to make time to care for ourselves. Then DIS-EASE settles in and we begin to have migraines, aching joints, stomach issues, and sleep problems. Over time, I began to resent everyone around me for taking what felt like pieces of me. What I had failed to understand was that the energy I was expending in caring for others was actually depleting me at the expense of my own health and well-being. I had become a person I no longer liked or recognized. It was a recipe for disaster, because, no matter how strong you are, there will come a time when you are running on empty with nothing more to give. My life changed dramatically in my early 50’s when I began to recognize that practicing self-care was my ticket to improving my health and wellness. I had to find the courage to dig deep and give myself permission to make my own needs a priority. It was not easy. On those few occasions when I attended a yoga class in the middle of a work day, or got a massage for an hour, I felt guilty. But believe me, I’ve learned to let that all go, and guess what? I’ve put myself back at the top of the list. That very change improved my overall wellbeing and had a positive impact on my personal relationships with others. Whether it be attending a class, making time for coffee with a girlfriend, journaling, meditation, or taking a walk, I now understand that having “me-time” to re-energize my body and soul is something I need and, more importantly, something I deserve. Letting go of old paradigms can take time and practice. Making time to consider what you need most amidst your mountain of responsibilities for others doesn’t come naturally to any of us. It can be a very difficult transition to make, so you should expect to stumble from time to time as you fall back into old, bad habits. But believe that YOU CAN DO IT! Take the first deep breathe, acknowledge your self-worth, and make a commitment to do one nice thing for yourself each day. Start with this new, fresh mindset to love and honor your own needs. Nourish your body, mind and soul, and you’ll find an inner calming you didn’t even know was humanly possible.