Practice self-care: a gift to those you love, not selfishness

Gillihan Family

(Photograph by Dave Carney)

It’s time to practice some self-care and let those you love be your motivation to do so. It is easy to put off taking care of yourself when there are so many things already needing your time and attention. I know! But one of the best gifts you can give your friends and family is a whole, healthy you. A you who isn’t just barely making it day-to-day.

But isn’t self-care selfish?

I used to think that this was selfish. I used to think that the way I loved my family was to pour out every little drop of me. But all that was left was a useless me. A stressed, down, frazzled, exhausted, anxious me. Smiles were forced, nerves were on edge, and life felt miserable. I couldn’t see and embrace the gifts that were right in front of me, even though I so desperately wanted to.

Self-care helps you BETTER love and care for others.

I am not saying that love doesn’t require sacrifice. I am not saying that you should neglect those you love. No, quite the contrary. I am saying that when you carve out the time necessary for your wellness, you will have MORE energy, MORE patience, and MORE joy as you care for others.You will likely be MORE available to those you love and available to a greater degree.

We’ve become believers.

Brance has been incredibly sweet to encourage me this way and it really has paid off for me AND my precious family. In fact, he often notices before I do if I have missed a daily walk, one of the key components to caring for myself, and will offer to watch the girls for me to work one in. You’d be surprised what a big difference it makes, though. We’re definitely both believers!

Here are 4 simple things I do to practice self-care and be the best version of myself.

  • Daily walks OUTDOORS. Exercise not only helps maintain a healthy weight and combat diseases, it has also been proven to improve mood and to ease the symptoms of both depression and anxiety. The same things have been observed in spending time outdoors.. This has definitely been the case for me, boosting my happiness and helping keep depression at bay. I aim for a 15-30 minute daily walk outside when my husband is available to watch our girls, even when I don’t feel like it (the days we don’t feel like going, are the days we need it the most!). I am always amazed by the almost immediate mental and emotional boost I receive from doing this. And it only takes a couple of days of missing this for me to start to feel off. Physical activity and exercise are foundational to being able to enjoy life, they really are.
  • Supplement with Vitamin D3. Chances are you are deficient; most people are. Optimizing your Vitamin D3 levels, through daily supplementation, can improve your mood and help you avoid depression, while fending off a host of illnesses, from certain cancers to the flu. This one has made a HUGE difference in my wellness, both physically and emotionally. I can’t recommend it enough! I am not kidding when I say that this has been one of the biggest game changers for me in my ability to enjoy life (quite possibly #1). Much of the depression and anxiety that I had struggled with for years melted away when I began supplementing. And it is so easy! I take it with my multi-vitamin (and no, the amount of vitamin D3 in your multi is NOT enough) and fish oil after breakfast. Vitamin D3 supplements are inexpensive and easy to find as well. For supplementation guidelines and scholarly research on the topic, check out Grassroots Health.
  • Supplement with fish oil. This is one that we hear about often nowadays, and for good reason. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish, are very important for our bodies, especially our brains. AND like Vitamin D3, most of us our not getting enough naturally. Researchers have found that people who consume diets higher in sea food have lower incidences of depression and other mood disorders. I supplement with 1200 mg of fish oil daily and I also eat fish a couple of times a week. A great way to work in extra fish, besides as a yummy fish entree for dinner, is with canned salmon which is especially rich in Omega-3. It makes a delicious replacement for tuna in a “tuna” salad (my family actually prefers it!).
  • Take time for me. Once a week Brance keeps the girls for a couple of hours so that I can spend time doing something I enjoy. Often-times you can find me sitting in a coffee shop writing or reading (I know, it doesn’t take much to make me happy :). Usually it also involves a visit to our local thrift shop, where I can stroll through at my leisure. I have a bit of an obsession with blue and white dishes, so I always have my eyes peeled for those. But mainly it is about me unwinding and resting, having  my own thoughts without being interrupted. It is something that I look forward to every week and I am now quick to alert Brance if we have somehow missed one. Daily, I try and make sure to take time for reading when the kids are in bed (it is impossible to make it through a single paragraph when they are awake!). For me, this involves reading a passage of scripture, a daily devotional, and in some other book. There is something really fun about reading with your hubby in bed at night before going to sleep too :).

This list is by no means exhaustive. But these four make a big, big difference!

Practicing self-care, so that I can best love others,

Lauren

This is article 3 in a 4 part series.  

Okay, smart readers, what things do you do to care for yourself? I’d love to hear!!!