(or how self care should come first)
❇️ One of my truest followers and BFF in real life, gave me some nice feedback after the previous article. Mentioning how in some way my weekly themes are often ‘too on point’, she suggested a great next topic. I immediately agreed this would be a good follow-up on The Effort that’s Called Support: What about Self Care? In truth, this should be the prequel.
❇️ I must say, lately the articles coming together is starting to feel like giving birth in some way. Deciding on a topic has always been a bit of a mental struggle, but now, even when knowing what I want to write about, while at it, the articles seem to grow. I don’t know how better to explain, but I feel like diving into the deep every time. It’s not a bad thing, quite the opposite, but it takes a lot out of me and the way the articles are building up inside me, makes the moment of publishing like I’ve just released something new into the world. Where there was adrenaline before, there’s relieve added now. Birth. Dramatic? Maybe, but it’s just a little peek for you inside my otherwise slightly chaotic mind.
❇️ So yeah, what about self care? I hinted at the impossibility to give, when my own cup is running empty and you don’t have to think long and hard to acknowledge it as being true. I was very happy to be ‘back’ at my supportive role, since I have been – again – confronted, with a young person who desperately is in need of some. My heart breaks a little with every new sad story and I would be taking all of that way too personally if I did not take care of myself, well, see the last article 😉. If you’re one of those people who only care about themselves, this one’s definitely not for your ears, let alone heart, you’re already taking way too much care of yourself as is. However, if you’re one who likes and needs, to take care of others, I hope this one is going to be of some encouragement.
❇️ The first thing I noticed when I Googled self care was the fact this is quite the hot topic and why doesn’t that surprise me? Especially while this pandemic is still going on. I looked into the self care quotes section and yes, those were available in abundance too. I will share some of those quotes here, but if you feel you need more, just go ahead and find them: there’s a little self care for ya! Anyways, how much explanation would it need to be honest? Well it might not be the explanation you need, it might just be the incentive to take it seriously, it’s never too late for that. Or even when you do feel like I did at one point, you can make a fresh start and change your focus a little bit.
❇️ It’s all too easy to get lost in taking care of others and completely forget about taking care of yourself. In a way I hope most of you will recognize yourself in this, though the downside is obvious: you just can’t go on like that forever, without being ‘punished’ somehow. This might sound severe, but if common sense rules – does it? – it’s the expected outcome. There are many situations in which taking care of others can make you cross the boundaries of your mental and spiritual health, unfortunately we’re no super humans, though we might feel and act like it. The danger lies in the fact, we may only recognize we’ve gone too far when it’s too late already. It’s a valuable lesson to learn, when to stop and take a breath.
❇️ When we returned from one of our trips to Spain – not a holiday! – we ended up in a small village. And when I say small, it was blink-again-and-we’re-out-of-here small. I would never have chosen to live in a place like that, after having been used to a lively environment, but beggars can’t be choosers they say. To be honest, the surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful, smack dab in the middle of one of mother nature’s most gorgeous spots in The Netherlands. We stayed in a wooden cabin – former boat house – in a half closed community, with only holiday homes. Since the season just ended there were no other people around and we were left to our own devices.
❇️ It was one of the most needed recovery periods in our lives, even if we could only acknowledge that after being there for a couple a weeks. We were surrounded by lush green and we had deers, foxes, rabbits and other small animals visit the garden. Since it was a former boat house, it was situated at a little lake and so our view was something dreams are made of. When winter came and snow started to fall, the perfect picture was complete, speaking of which by the way, we still should have stored…somewhere 😂. I’ve never in my life felt like I felt living there, completely isolated from the world – though the next village was only a mile away. Peace and quiet in spades. We lived there for some time before we started to go ‘back to normal life’.
❇️ For me it became clear just how much I needed it, when I would wake up in the morning, thought to ‘close my eyes for just a couple of more minutes’ only to wake up 2 or 3 hours later. The first time it happened I couldn’t quite believe the clock and I was totally disorientated, because this was so far out of character for me. I’m an early riser, always have been and though I always take a couple of minutes before getting up, to make sure I am actually awake, that’s it, I’ll be up and about. After a week of this same behavior it was clear I must have been truly exhausted. Tired to the bone. Shredded. Not only mentally and spiritually, but apparently also physically. Funny how these always seem to go so well together. Body, Soul and Spirit.
❇️ I can’t even remember if we at that point made a conscious decision to never let it get that far again, but in my memory it never has. Though I might have skirted my outer limits a couple of times, I seem to have gotten the point. It’s in us/me, to give a 110% whenever I feel the cause is worth it even if everybody arounds me keeps saying it’s not. This is simply because I will ‘see’ something, others don’t. Doesn’t really matter if I reach the goal or not, because I do realize that’s not always entirely up to me alone. I just have to know, I gave it my all and yes, more. So I had to learn the hard way, not to let myself go to waste. Apart from the fact nothing is worth that, there’s no caring for anybody or anything else after that.
❇️ We shouldn’t feel selfish at times we have to put ourselves first but I know that’s easier said than done for some people. Being a Mom certainly doesn’t encourage me to put myself first, but where would my kids be when I lost myself? And there are many more scenario’s in real life, just fill in yours. So the key is to have boundaries and to recognize when you’re in danger of approaching these, whether it will be in a stealthy, sneaky, round-about way, or head first at full speed: Hit. The. Breaks! To be honest though, this might be looking at it backwards: if we allow ourselves to have ‘me-time’ on a regular basis, we should never be able to see those boundaries approach. We would well stay within safe limits. Act SELF-ish.
❇️ So when and how do you take care of yourself? Do you feel you’re reaching – crossing?? – those personal limits way too often? Are you taking things way too seriously sometimes, but you’re never on that list of important things yourself? If you have a daily to-do list, are you somewhere up there at all? I know it’s not common for me to put myself on my to-do list – if and when I make one, but I should be up there. If I can’t stomach being first, than at least somewhere in the middle or even, at the end. Doesn’t really matter at what time during the day I’m inserting me-time, but it should definitely be there, this is merely a practical matter. Since I’m a morning person, the early mornings are perfect for me to take some time ‘off’. Whatever works for you, Do It.
❇️ ‘Taking time to do what makes your soul happy‘, that sounds great. So how would making my soul happy, affect my whole being? If you consider that our souls consist of our Feelings, Mind and Will, it might be easier to grasp. I talked about this in My Kind of Music (1), if you remember. Doesn’t really matter where I am in this, my Will is the first to agree with making myself happy, simply because I Want To. My Mind is basically already persuaded, since in my mind, I simply Need It and all this will lead to me Feeling Good: Step 1, my Soul will be Rejoicing. From here on it’s just a little skip to step 2, because it’s not hard to figure out our Body and Spirit (= our Intuition, Conscience and Faith) will follow suit. Our soul is our inner person, if we’re happy on the inside, it simply has to come out. We all know, when the tables are turned, it will also show on the outside…😳
❇️ So what about making time? What makes your soul happy? Ever thought about it for real? A lot of things are easy fixes I think. My BFF mentioned for a lot of women it will include skin care, after which we both immediately agreed this wasn’t us lol. Taking the restrictions we all had to adhere to lately in consideration, a lot of those easy fixes were unfortunately unavailable to us. I mean, that facial, the needed haircut, a swaggy new outfit, a drink with friends and more like that… let alone the more fancy fixes…Some things have gone back to some kind of normal, but we still have to make due with what’s available, mostly simple things while staying at home.
❇️ For me, going back to a little workout routine – a couple of weeks ago – early in the morning, was one big step towards self care. When I started the blog I was used to doing this every weekday, but somehow the blog started to consume more and more time – it still tends to do that if I’m not careful – and it became easier with time to just skip my morning routine and start writing. I mean, seriously, my workout takes about 30 minutes, just enough to get the blood pumping and the muscles to stretch – not that it’s not intensive – but ehm, excuses much?? Those 30 minutes give me enough energy to last the day and the knowledge I actually do something good for my body, seems to also work wonders for my mind as well as my spirit. Winning!
❇️ Other ways of self care for me are a new Hot Pink dress (after a long, long time), listening to groovy music, read a historical romance novel – well sorry-not-sorry, or simply take a nap if I feel I really need it. Some small things and some bigger, like reading a couple of Bible verses to encourage my spirit and soul. Did you know self care stems from the Bible? For you it might be something totally different though, but I just want to urge you to take that time. Though the whole pandemic era might be giving us the illusion of an abundance of free time, that time is not always well spent, as in, well for our mental health. I know how easy it is to just let time pass you by without getting anything constructive done. It’s great to have time to relax, but it’s also easy to let everything just overwhelm us and let time get the better of us. Time we’ll never get back.
❇️ Take care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything big, baby steps will work just as well. Make sure you will stay able to take care of the people you love, by taking care of yourself first. I cannot love another, without loving myself first. Self care is all about loving yourself enough to make sure you’re nurtured and not only by having three meals a day. Our soul and spirit need a healthy body for sure, but we’re more than a body and in a way it’s beautiful how the three – body, soul and spirit – can work together to make us wholesome. It’s up to us to find that balance, what might be good for one, isn’t necessarily good for the other, but if you use your God given common sense, you should well be able to figure it out. If not, don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s out there.
❇️ Put yourself first on your to-do list, it’s OK. I find it easier to face a new day when I start it out right, by making sure I’m fed the right way. In this day and age, where life rushes by in all that technology has to offer, it’s up to me to hit the breaks and hit them in time. I can only hope that reading my blog is something that will add to your self care. I sure hope the impact of my articles lasts longer than the time you need to read them. I challenge you to find – and do! – the things that will make your soul happy. You can stop the merry-go-round for a couple of minutes per day, and focus on yourself and what you need that particular moment. Give yourself permission to pause and Be SELF-ish.
Wishing y’all a very SELFish Weekend. Love, to me, myself and I. Oh well, and you ❤