Self-Care is Not Selfish & How to Start Right Now
We’re thrilled to have Rachel Macy Stafford from The Hands Free Revolution guest blogging for us today!
On an unseasonably warm spring day, my body let me know there was a problem. I didn’t feel like myself, and I wasn’t acting like myself. After smashing a casserole dish on the kitchen counter in a moment of frustration, I told my family what I planned to do to better care for myself. I’d give up the soda addiction and drink more water. I’d start running again, even a mile or two of heart-pumping sweat could do wonders. I’d be more selective when it came to writing opportunities. I’d get at least seven hours of sleep. I’d go to a specialist and get to the bottom of a six-month long bladder infection instead continuing to take different antibiotics.
That is what I did. I immediately began sleeping through the night. I could think more clearly. I could handle frustration better. I went to several doctors until I got to the bottom of my health issue. A highly skilled urologist discovered a ginormous kidney stone that was taking up over half my kidney. Left unattended or improperly removed, the results could have been fatal.
When I told my doctor what the first urologist recommended for removal of the mass, she said, “You could have lost a year of your life due to complications from the wrong procedure.”
But all I heard was: You could have lost your life.
And not just from a monstrous kidney stone, but from not looking after myself—from looking after everyone but me.
Although I’ve healed from three surgeries resulting from the mass, I’m clinging to the reminder this health scare gave me. I’m reminded that I want to be on this earth for a long, long time. I’m reminded that I want to be here for to watch my children grow. I’m reminded that I want to write more articles and more books that bring hope to others. I’m reminded that in order to do these things, I need to care for myself just as I care for the ones I love. It is my honor to pass this reminder on. Here are six small self-care actions to get you started:
1. Acknowledge yourself.
You have feelings. They are worth listening to and acknowledging. You have limits. They are necessary to keep in place as a means of valuing your time and honoring your health. You have dreams. You are worthy of time to pursue what makes your heart come alive. You have needs. You deserve affection, rest, sustenance, and grace, just like everyone else. It is not selfish to look after yourself. It is critical for your happiness and wellbeing.
2. Gift yourself.
When is the last time you gifted yourself? This week, plan on giving yourself something of value that will add to your life. An extra hour of sleep. A colorful water bottle to encourage proper hydration. A crisp new journal to write down your dreams. An hour of exercise or creativity. And if nothing else, give yourself a moment. Everyone needs a moment of grace, forgiveness, or acceptance every now and then.
3. Restore yourself.
Maybe it’s been so long since you felt joy that you forgot how it feels. Think back. What made you feel happy as child? Is it the smell of a library book? Perhaps it is the sound of crickets. Perhaps it’s strumming a guitar or walking barefooted in the grass. Go back to a happy memory and recreate it. Invite someone to join you and make a new memory.
4. Take the pressure off yourself.
What are you telling yourself has to be done today? What are you telling yourself about your parenting skills? What are you telling yourself about your appearance? Try realistic standards today. Try lowering the bar. Let something go. Ban the word “should” from your vocabulary. When you lay down tonight, ask yourself: Did I show up? If the answer is yes, that is enough. It’s more than enough.
5. Speak up for yourself.
Voice the unspeakable to a trusted soul. “I need help” … “I am afraid” … “I am overwhelmed” … “I haven’t felt like myself in awhile”. There is something about voicing the burden that makes it lighter. Give others a chance to support you, this person they love and care for deeply.
6. Notice the good in yourself
Take a moment and recognize where you were and how far you’ve come. Notice the tough obstacles you’ve overcome. Recognize the number of times you showed up even when it was hard, even when it was the last thing you wanted to do. See yourself through the eyes of those who love you—they don’t see imperfections, failings, and mistakes, they see love, never-failing love. Try to see it too.
Note from the iBloom Team:
This is a small taste of what you’ll find in New York Times bestselling author Rachel Macy Stafford’s highly anticipated new daily inspiration book, Only Love Today: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love. With a unique flip-open, read-anytime/anywhere format, this book is soulful encouragement for busy individuals yearning to anchor themselves in love despite everyday distractions, pressures, and discord. “Only Love Today” began as a mantra to overcome her inner bully, but it is now the practice of Rachel Macy Stafford’s life. It can be a practice for all of us with Only Love Today. Join Rachel and her supportive community here: Website // @HandsFreeMama // Facebook
WIN a FREE copy of “Only Love Today!”
iBloom has purchased 25 copies of “Only Love Today” and we want to gift one to you! Leave a comment below sharing one way that you’re choosing to invest in yourself this week. We’ll randomly choose 25 women to win on Wednesday, March 15th.
We believe in the message of this book that we want to get it into the hands of every woman. So, we challenge you to consider paying it forward by purchasing a book and sharing it with a friend.