“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.”
By Toni Ponder
Turning 40 at the end of 2014 prompted me to make a real resolution at the beginning of 2015. Something a little more than lose weight, do more exercise, and go to church every Sunday resolutions (those are always on my list), but one that was really personal to me as I enter this “middle-age” era.
My new year’s resolution for 2015: Practice kindness and gentleness on a daily basis to a person that needs it most from me–ME. I am practicing self-care, self-preservation, and self-indulgence (whatever the term). I am moving forward this year with “self” at the forefront. I am seeking out ways to be kind and gentle to me.
Challenges abound. I was not exactly sure what this self-care was going to look like, how it was going to unfold or if, like the exercise, it would fall by the way-side mid-January. And how would I overcome those internalized messages: “Think of others before yourself,” “Tis better to give than receive,” “Do for others,” and “But, Mom I really need/want/please…”? (Have I mentioned, yet, that my daily life includes: a husband, three beautiful/busy/scheduled children, our dog, and a career that is devoted to thinking and doing for others? And laundry. Lots of laundry.)
I thought about this resolution in late 2014, and as I write it now, it all sounds a bit selfish. For this very reason, this resolution of being kind and gentle to myself has become so important. It’s so important for all of us to remember the “you” that’s inside us.
It’s only February, but I can tell you that this resolution has manifested in many way, both big and small. I like this focus on me and it will not fall by the wayside. There are times I have to remind myself, when that small twinge of the inner-guilt voice creeps in, “This is self-care. This is self-preservation. Back off!”
What has been my practice of self-care? A few examples of my Self-Kindness Regimen so far:
• For the last couple of Fridays, after work, when there is usually a slight reprieve before our weekend activities, I have strolled, yes, strolled through Target without a list, without children, and without anything in particular I actually needed to purchase. I had nowhere to be. No one was expecting me to do anything at that moment. No one even knew I was at Target.
• Weekend sleepovers with my kids’ friends at our house are more than common place. For the most part, I love the hub that our house is and the chatter of pre-teen voices. But, just last weekend, I told my children that they could not have any friends spend the night. My response to their pleas of “why?” “Because I want a Saturday morning to be in my pajamas without dealing with anyone that I didn’t birth!”
• I love movies. I’ve been several times—even by myself.
• I have not slept well in over a year. I promised myself to see a sleep doctor. I did. This was true kindness to me—and everyone in my house!
• I’ve taken a few yoga classes, have gone to the gym a few times and talked about exercise (a lot). I’ve eaten ice cream, cake, and cookies too. I didn’t feel bad and started over the next day.
• I’ve reached out to old friends that I haven’t talked to in a while.
Obviously this regimen isn’t for everyone. You have to find what your “self” needs. We spend a lot of time caring, helping, being kind to others. And that’s good for us, but the practice of self-care is good for others, too. The airlines got it right–you must first put your oxygen mask on before you can help anyone else that is having difficulty with their mask.
So however you choose to practice self-care, remember to be caring, helping, and kind to the “you in you. And tell that inner-guilt voice to “Back off!” It has done wonders for me already—and it’s only February!