Taking care of yourself to better care for others

image Self-care seems to be all the rage these days. And I can see why.

If you want to make it the long-haul as a loving, supportive, and helpful wife, mom, husband, dad, family member, or friend you have to take care of yourself along the way. You have to take moments from your hectic and demanding schedule to recharge yourself.

We have all seen or heard about those people who selfishly neglect the people in their life. Who only spend time doing the things they love to do. I think that can make self-care seem a little scary to some of us.

But self-care is the furthest thing from selfishness and neglect. It is wisely spending moments during your day to refresh yourself, making you better able to care for those you love. Self-care will make you less tired and grumpy and impatient. It can help make you less selfish.

Recently I haven’t engaged in self-care as often as I usually do ;). We are waiting for my new niece to arrive any moment and we have been busy, busy baking freezer meals and washing dishes and chasing kids and analyzing contractions (dang that false labor).

And staying up a little too late talking about old times. But I am loving every moment with my sister, brother-in-law, and sweet little niece. And I know that I will jump back into it once I am back home.

Since I kind of miss self-care when I am unable to engage in it because of travel, or some other circumstance, I thought I would share some of my favorites.

Here are some self-care rituals I believe provide a big return for their investment. Most of them require only a couple of minutes of my time here and there, yet help me feel and be my best during the day.

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Listening to calming music
Ooh. This one really does help calm and relax me. Especially if it is a slow tempo (similar to Brahms). And there is science behind this. Not only can it relax you, it can also help prepare you to fall asleep at night. (Best gift you can give a new nursing mom, by the way)

Reading fiction
As a busy mom, I don’t have much free time for reading. But Brance and I have the loveliest nighttime reading ritual. We get ready for bed (it takes me longer ;)) and then we snuggle under the covers with a good book until we are too sleepy to read. For me, it’s usually a novel. This is one of my favorite times of the “day”.

Sipping a hot beverage
I have written about the girls’ and my almost daily tea ritual before. I usually also enjoy a hot beverage during their “quiet hour” in the afternoon and sometimes at night with Brance. To me holding and savoring a hot cup of tea or coffee is so, so relaxing.

Scripture reading
I don’t know how people make it through life without something as nourishing, grounding, and directing as the bible. It’s what feeds me spiritually and emotionally. I would not be who I am without its guidance. Seriously.

Prayer
Another spiritual discipline that has given back in more ways than I can count. It provides peace and comfort and an outlet to my deepest hopes and concerns.

Getting 8 hours of sleep (sorry moms with tiny babies!)
This one is big for me (and most people). Getting adequate sleep makes a big difference in how I feel and how I am able to manage my day.

Walking outside
Oh, daily walk, how I have missed you. This one is hard to work in during vacation. Especially one where we are holding our breath waiting for baby’s arrival. But, I will get back to my daily walk soon because it makes a big difference in how I feel.

Having a daily “quiet hour”
I mentioned drinking tea during my daughter’s quiet hour. This is an hour I work in every afternoon for the girls to read quietly in their room. This gives me an hour to read or write or catch up on a chore or just rest.  It has become a must in our household.

Taking vitamin d and magnesium
I can’t sing the praises of these two vitamins (technically hormone and mineral) enough. They have helped “cure” anxiety  and have made life much better for me. I am happier, more relaxed, and better able to deal with life’s stresses when I take them daily.

What self-care rituals do you swear by? Do tell!