How “self-care” can make you a better human

How Self-Care can make you a Better

It’s inevitable that at some point in your journey to building a strong family and crafting a life that you’re going to feel stagnant and out of sorts.

 

 

This is despite that you are always blessed beyond personal measure. Having achieved your goals does not exempt you from one day waking up and feeling an inner gnaw that begs you to pay attention to the fact that something is missing from your daily hustle.

 

I measure my inner success by my outer surroundings. Am I doing what I love most of the time? Is my family healthy and nurtured? Am I accomplishing my objectives? Is my home and barn clean and inviting? Are my horses and pets healthy? If when I look around and note that I can answer yes to all of my questions, and that I have everything that I have ever prayed for yet I feel miserable and gross on the inside of me. When this is the case, I know that two things have happened;

 

  1. I am being negligent with self-care
  2. I am procrastinating on going to the next level

When I say “next level”, it usually means that some part of me is holding back on either setting, or going after the next set of objectives to grow myself. The catch 22 is that without self-care, you won’t have what you need to go to the next level because it’s like a sports car without a full tank of gas.

I understand that self-care used to get a really bad rap as being selfish, but things have changed. As souls began to get weary, we fell into self-care as a necessity.  Once that happened we began to realize that everything felt better and went much smoother when we were rested and healthy. We all know that you have to put your own oxygen mask in case of emergency, because you are of no service to those who require your help to survive if you yourself are struggling to breathe. I think that we push self-care off as much as possible, and then attempt to cram some solitude in all at once. This method is counter-productive in that usually by that point you feel almost beyond repair and yet rushed at the same time. I know this because this is my old pattern.

Even though I have always been such an advocate for alone time to recharge the batteries my entire life, and have practiced excellent self-care since childhood, I definitely fell off the wagon a few times in adulthood. The scary thing is that I didn’t even realize it until it became a code red situation.  Now I’ve been back on the self-care track for a good bit and I’m adding to my skill set daily, and I would like to take you with me.

Not unlike you, my typical day is full. Happy. Fun. But full. Here’s what it looks like, tell me if you can identify;

 

I wake up at 5 am; I unload the dishwasher while I make my coffee. I switch the laundry from the wash to the dryer and grab my dog. Maggio and I leave home to drive the 11 miles to the barn, and by 7:30 all three horses have been fed and turned out. The stalls are clean with fresh hay and water for turn in. I then drive home to get showered for work, eat breakfast, and if Dylan didn’t come to the barn with me, I get him up to get washed up and dressed. Once I’m at work, I work in 5 50 minute blocks and accomplish all of my projects.

After work, I return to the barn either alone or with my working student. I ride, or lunge my horse if it was not done in the morning, & groom the other two horses. Depending on the day, I may have to drag a field with a chain harrow, spread the excess manure as fertilizer or stack hay…then turn in and feed.  I drive home; we eat dinner as a family, and chill out together. I also balance my personal and barn checking accounts, and set the budgets for both. I market my equestrian management business, and write blog posts. I write and present continuing legal education seminars to paralegals nationwide, and I’m responsible for meal planning, grocery shopping, organization, deep cleaning, all paperwork, filing taxes, and a partridge in a pear tree.

 

So where is the self-care?

In every moment that I am doing what I love. It’s in making the right choices for myself because come to find out, self-care is an ongoing thing, and it is a choice. It starts first and foremost with our inner dialogue. In between these moments that are full of things, people, and places, how I think is ultimately going to become how I feel and act.

I used to believe strongly that self-care was making sure that I got into my saddle to gallop my horse out in nature, or making sure that my nails got done or that I got a massage. It is those things, but more than that it is how I chose to talk to myself and how I chose to feel on the inside. When I was carrying on with my daily routines but I was struggling on the inside, I was talking very negatively to myself, about myself, and about others. I was thinking way too deep about things that really don’t matter…and actually never happened. I decided to get very serious about my self-care one day and started first with my inner most thoughts. I began by telling myself that I loved myself and approved of myself anytime I came in contact with a mirror. I didn’t worry about appearing silly or feeling weird. I have been cussing myself out for months now and it wasn’t working for me anymore, so I was eager to see what loving myself would do. The change for me was instant. From there it went to appreciating my own hard efforts, even if the outcome was less than what I desired. From there it went to taking walks in the sunshine to go buy myself flowers for my desk. Everyone began to notice a change in me within the first 48 hours. The best thing of all is that those around me started to take care of themselves too! There is a ripple effect to how we act. I wanted to always be a good ripple.

Within one week of my cleaning up my habits, I began meditating again. I got to bed at a regular time. I also wrote down all that I wanted to release from my life on a sheet of paper and then burned it four days before the new moon. In essence, I gave myself a fresh start.

When you step into your authentic being it’s like slipping into a pair of shoes that just fit perfectly and feel so good on. You don’t care if they’re stylish, or the perfect color. You don’t worry about if they look like anyone else’s shoes or what anyone thinks of them. For you they are perfect.

Confidence, assertiveness, grace, and love, it all comes from within and it all comes from self-care. {click to tweet it}

 

After the party comes the after party…

The thoughts and how you speak to yourself is the first party, but after that there is this whole external world that has been created that either needs changing, or doesn’t, but it definitely needs tending. If it needs changing, then it’s time to make some cuts.

Time is money. It’s money that can be earned or its money that can be saved. Yet above money, time is irreplaceable.

I was always really good at saving time with organization and efficiency. All of my routines and systems allowed me to be a high performing professional, in and out of the office. But up until four years ago, I couldn’t understand why I was still tired and out of sorts too much of the time. Then I started to pay attention to what I was doing in my off time and who I was hanging around. I then came up with my five non-negotiable for my time and never looked back;

I don’t shop for sport – I always know exactly what I need, find it at the best value for its price, plan for it and go get it or have it delivered. I do the same for bulk purchases; I know exactly how much grain and bedding I need for an entire month, and go and get it the last weekend of each month.

I don’t watch TV – we got rid of satellite when we bought our house two years ago. We have Netflix and Hulu and a pretty intense movie collection. I don’t even miss satellite because believe me, there’s nothing of value on anyway.

I get up early – 5 am, no later than 6am. No excuses. I wrote a great essay about why I teach Dylan the same thing that you can read here. But to save you some time, in a nutshell, no successful person sleeps until noon.

I use discernment in all relationships – You won’t believe the time that you would have on your hands if you stop trying to please those that want nothing more than to keep you in a cycle of attempting to prove yourself for validation that they are never going to give you. Move on.

I don’t explain any of this to anyone. No one’s opinion would be valid enough for me to neither negotiate these principles nor re-evaluate them. This isn’t brash, this is necessary and I’m able to stand by this because I’ve discovered these principles to be personal truths for myself. As Abraham Lincoln said, “know where to plant your feet, and then stand firmly.” The above are the fundamentals of self-care. Saving yourself from negative patterns and people so to yourself space and time to figure out and then have then have the energy to go after what you love.

 

Think of the fam…

Once you’ve gotten you at the top of the “to do list”, the laundry practically sorts it’s self. The house stays cleaner, the fridge stays full of healthy food, the bank account is meticulous and it’s all because you’ve become accustom to living with high standards. You’ve set an example for yourself and no longer settle for anything less. You become rested and can think clearly, therefore better decisions are made. You have more patience with others, more tolerance and understanding. The family benefits tremendously from all of this.

Allowing your daughter to witness her mother taking care of herself physically, spiritually, and mentally sets the best example that a mother can give on how to live her own life as a wife and mother. Showing your son this necessary attribute shows him how to be independent and a partner to a future wife. If you’re a dad, it shows your daughter that no romantic partner can love her until she loves herself, and that a good partner should be equal. It gives a son a visual example of how not to land in a co-dependent relationship later on. There is literally no bad thing that can be passed down to a young mind when parents practice good self care.

 

Some warnings…

Those who follow my writing know that I always give the other side of the story. Spirituality isn’t always fluffy as we live in a world of duality. Good and bad, light and dark. Self-care is not exempt from having some cautions.

When you get proactive about making yourself a priority, this then provides a contrast. You get quiet enough to gain insight and perspective. You may begin to see that you have been selling yourself short by allowing yourself to settle for less than you deserve. This realization may make you angry. You may get angry with yourself or even other people in your life. In these times, it’s necessary to increase self-care, and gently remind yourself that life doesn’t just happen; it’s a reflection of what you’ve allowed, spoken of, done, not done etc. The good news is that you can change anything at any time.

You get to begin to practice assertiveness as well. This can make you feel uncomfortable at first. Especially when you have to practice that assertiveness with people who are close to you who have been taking advantage of you for quite some time. Remember, those people are learning too. Odds are, a gentle conversation that is proactive is all that it will take.

Sometimes those conversations don’t go well and there may be some feelings of discomfort as you begin to understand that you must do what Snoop Dogg calls “closing the gap”. Your new heightened state of awareness means that you’ve ascended faster than those that you have chosen to associate with. Not everyone will be able to keep up nor may want to. Do you drop them? Maybe…but maybe not. The answer to that question will be individual and will be revealed naturally over time.

What is known for sure is that you staying the same, not growing, or reaching to be your personal best in order to achieve your goals and dreams helps no one. It keeps you from your life purpose and it doesn’t give anyone an example to follow for themselves. Maybe some people will be inspired to make their own personal changes just by watching you start to take care of yourself, and maybe some will grow to hate and resent you. Neither is actually within your control. Be gentle, be kind, but keep going. No. Matter. What.

It’s all good…

I can certainly go on and on, but I would be adding to a densely populated topic. Instead, I will end here with some excellent resources that helped me out tremendously. I look to these materials and search for others often as self-care needs refreshing and re-evaluation, just as anything really worthwhile.

45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul

The Importance of Self-Care – a playlist from Ted.com

Self-Care Starter Kit – University of Buffalo School of Social Work

The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson **** Blog author approved ****

 

With all of the love that I have to give…I wish you self-care and stardust always.

Jenna

 

Tell me about your self-care journey! Use #selfcare101 whenever you treat yourself or exercise any self-care, or to ask questions, let’s open a great discussion.

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