"Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others."
~ Bené Brown
This spring, I went through an incredibly stressful time, and I wanted to share a little about what I've learned in case it has the chance to speak to you, too.
This was a deep, emotional stress that shook many foundations I've built my life upon, and it tore through my soul and actually my body, as well. During the worst week of this tempest, my stomach felt sick, and my face broke out with the worst zits I've had since high school. Thankfully, I was already in the process of seeking help through counseling, but this was a time when the cruciality of self-care was brought to the very front of my mind. It wasn't the breakout on my face that caught my attention, but it was my counselor and friends telling me to do nice things for myself when I began to realize that I could do more to care for my soul, and that I should do more. While I am blessed to have many people around me to love me, none of them has the same responsibility I have to myself.
It's very easy, I think especially for those of us who were taught that selfishness is wrong, to believe that it's not good or right to place so much emphasis on ourselves. Take a moment to think, though, about what happens when you aren't cared for and when your needs become neglected. What about when that happens over and over? Is that transformation for the better? While there is so much good that has come to this world through selflessness, your needs matter, too.
Now think of what the transformation would look like if you were given the time, care, and love you do need. If you had boundaries around the part of life to you that matter the most. If instead of harboring frustration and stress when you agree to handle something for a friend, you told them no. Saying yes to one thing (peace of mind, for example) means saying no to something else (that extra project at work), and especially when you're first getting started in standing up for yourself, it will not feel fun. But as Bene Brown has said, "Choose discomfort over resentment." You are worth fighting for, your needs are worth defending, and and trust me, it's worth it.
Recognizing, respecting, and caring for your needs is all self care is. These needs can be as basic as sleep, good food, and safety or more complex like emotional and mental health. Routine self care, for me, includes firmly defending my bedtime, saying no to things I'm invited to but don't want to attend, keeping at least one evening a week to myself and whatever I want to do, and making sure I have sexy times with my husband and cuddle times with my dog on the regular. I'd also like to add consistent exercise to the list at some point; I've been lax about taking care of that part of me.
When I need to go hard core with my self care (like during this spring), this involves as much time outdoors as I can manage. Visiting parks and walking my dog help me clear my mind and bring goodness back into my life when I've gone off the deep end.
I want to tell some of my story so that it might reflect some light onto yours. I believe everyone needs self care, and it's important to recognize what that looks for you. You are different from me, and what settles your heart will be unique to your heart. Parts of my husband's version of self care are solitude, video games, and reading. What might help bring you calm?
I want to give a few more suggestions that might help job some ideas for how to care for yourself.
The Quiet Place Project is an amazingly therapeutic online space where you can express anything on your mind and watch it fall into the starry sky. I've visited this website twice, and I'm always amazed at how freeing it is to speak into this anonymous void.
Calm.com is a meditation app that can take you to a peaceful place in seconds.
Here are some lovely ideas for how to use self care to combat anxiety from Me & Orla. (I love this list.)
I highly recommend reading this post about self care in the context of motherhood. The author does a great job of describing different situations and examples of where self care is absent and what the outcomes are.
Whether you're in a stressful place right now or if you currently have everything together, I encourage you and challenge you to some up with at least 3 things you can do to start tending to your soul regularly. Build these habits now, because I promise you'll need them later.