Self care is a popular, if not sometimes controversial topic for bloggers these days. Some people abhor the word, while others use it to describe everything from naps to gym memberships.
I don’t mind the term and use it in my writing, but I don’t think I’ve ever defined it before and perhaps should do so. Self-care = practices undertaken by someone to support his or her physical, mental, and spiritual well-being
For me self-care isn’t a bad thing unless it ventures into sin: sloth, pride, and gluttony are the first ones that pop into my head. We all know some people whose idea of self-care is simply selfishness; they always put caring for themselves over others, even those in their care, like their children. But I don’t think all self-care leads to selfishness. I think caring for one’s self is necessary, especially when others, like children, rely on you.
Years ago Grace asked how I manged to look so good, and I wrote up a silly post detailing my methods. But this year I’ll be turning 40 and while it’s not cause for a midlife crisis (most of my best friends are already over the hill and doing just fine), I thought I would record how I’m taking care of myself at this stage of the game. It’s certainly different now than even six years ago when I jokingly wrote that first post. Back then, I spent most of my time in survival mode by choice or chance. I couldn’t even consider caring for myself in the ways I do now. But as I consider my future, I realized I had to be intentional in some things if I wanted to be the kind of caregiver Fulton and Teddy could rely on for years to come. I consider it a bonus if people still think I’m in my mid-thirties.
Newsletter subscribers can get access to my new self-care plan worksheets as part of my free resource library that I’m always updating with printables and templates.
But now, for my records and your quick skimming, seven takes on self-care.
1. Skin Care – Yes, I officially have a skin care routine with multiple steps and products. Hello mid-life. (Wait-should this be the first thing on my list??) In my early thirties, I started wearing a facial moisturizer with spf most days. When I’m at the beach or outside for any amount of time I wear a hat and sunglasses. In the last few years I’ve introduced a night cream, eye serum and an anti-aging facial wash into the mix. Other occasional products include a vitamin C oil and regular aloe use. I’m not attached to any specific brand, and I buy generic whenever possible to save money. I accept that caring for my skin is a good thing, but, I’m not sinking a ton of money into it, especially since the single biggest factor in making my skin look ‘good for my age’ is what I eat. I introduced ‘Hair, Skin, and Nail vitamins’ into my routine a couple of years back to help recover from the great ‘No Poo disaster of 2016 and while I didn’t see any change to my hair, my skin looked much better. With regular supplements and by avoiding foods (red wine, gluten, spicy foods) that trigger redness on my face, as well as tons of sugar, my skin looks good and I’m happy. Unless I get the opportunity to walk on the red carpet with a ton of celebrities I don’t see me changing anything.
2. Exercise – Only within the last year have I started exercising with any regularity. At some point I realized Fulton weighed more than 50 pounds, and hauling him and Teddy around was making me tired. I was worried about harming my back. As soon as they started summer program, I started exercising, doing videos on YouTube that i enjoyed (which was nothing too strenuous) just to build the habit. Now I do moe strenuous workouts with weights. Lifting the boys is still hard, they’ve only been putting on more wight since starting Spinraza, but I can keep up. I don’t get winded or wiped out, though it helps we have nursing many days and Tony is still at home most days to help.
I’d be lying if I wasn’t also hoping to lose some of the mama fat that’s still here even though my baby is seven. But I made sure to do exercises early on that were safe for ab separation and any pelvic floor issues. Honestly, I don’t think I had major issues in any department, but I didn’t want to jump into a workout program that would worsen anything so I started slow and after a few months moved onto more advanced moves once my core was stronger, which ultimately has helped with lifting and transferring.
3. Taking the approach of biomechanist Katy Bowman to see my whole body as interconnected, I’ve started wearing more minimal footwear and sitting less. I’m trying to keep my whole carriage in top shape (and flexible) rather than just worrying with the muscles directly involved in lifting. I’m at the age where I see friends suffering health problems (one classmate recently had a heart attack) and I’ve been feeling more pressure to address any aches and pains now. It’s hard to accept in some ways that I’m past my prime and that some parts of me will never be as young as they once were, so I’m doing what I can to keep what I have working.
4. Eating – Long time readers will know I love to give a crazy diet a try, at least for Lent. But besides staying away from gluten (which messes with my GI as much as I try to deny it), I’m done with fad diets. I know what’s healthy and what’s not and I’m just trying my best to eat more of the former. I definitely see the benefits to intermittent fasting and am adopting it as I’m able but otherwise carbs, proteins, fats; they’re all a go. Really, the older i get, the more I indulge in food (too much to drink, too much processed food, sugary snacks) the more I feel the results in my gut, and see the results in the skin on my face. It keeps me motivated to do better with my diet.
5. Regular prayer I guess if I were super holy this would be the first thing on my list but, well, here we are. I don’t know if most would consider regular prayer, self-care, however it is something many people slip out of the habit of doing when they’re busy, often with noticeable results. Often, we will carve out time for exercising, or preparing certain food, but we don’t afford the same care to our spiritual life. It’s foolish to think our relationship with God doesn’t suffer. So I try to make the effort to pray at least a rosary daily, read a spiritual book regularly, receive the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession frequently, and work out times with my husband to attend Mass or adoration solo.
6. SLEEP – I prioritize getting eight hours of sleep a night. It’s made all the difference in the world. One thing I’ve always loved about homeschooling was it gave my children and I the ability to sleep in as needed and live according to our own circadian rhythms. If I get sick, I can directly attribute it to being in a period of stress that has affected my sleep. Our new school schedule forced me to wake up even earlier, and I don’t like that now I go to bed at the same time as my elementary school students, but I also like not being sick and grumpy and nothing, not how I eat or move, plays as big a part in my health as sleeping. It was a realization that came after many exhausted years of trying to squeeze more into my day.
7. Hobbies – I make regular time to read and blog. This interests keep me sane when it seems like all my life is caring for others and cleaning up their messes. I think there are people who are fulfilled by, and make housekeeping, their hobby and I think that’s great! But I need interests outside the needs of my home and family, as does my husband and my children. There are phases in life when it’s harder to make time for hobbies, and out of all my self-care practices, they come in last, but no one should feel they need to sacrifice every last-minute, or their self-expression and creativity to be a good spouse or parent.
How do you take care of yourself? Share your ideas in the comments below, or make it a blog post of your own, then link it up! Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!