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Ladies, we need to have a little talk. (Guys, you can listen in too, because a lot of you need to hear this as well for the women in your life…but this particular problem is running rampant with women, and so I’m talking to them today). Women are naturally caretakers and nurturers. We are the mothers, the nurses, the teachers, the caregivers. But we’ve fallen into a dangerous and unhealthy pattern, that is being enforced in society, and it needs to stop….now! I’m talking about self-care…or the lack thereof!
You see, there is a wrong belief that we should put everyone else’s needs first. We are taking care of our children, our spouse or partner, our jobs, our friends, our family members, our pets, and anything else that needs our attention. But the problem is that we are forgetting to take care of ourselves.
Now, I know that there are a whole lot of you out there that find yourself throwing your hair up in a messy bun and throwing on some yoga pants and a t-shirt pretty much every day. And for many of you, it may have been a long time since you did something for yourself like getting a massage, having a girl’s night out, getting a manicure, or even taking a nice long bath. And getting some pampering for yourself is one form of self-care….but there are other forms that are even more important than that!!!
What are some things we can do to practice self-care?
Honor your emotions
It amazes me how often we women put ourselves on autopilot and “go through the motions” for so long and forget to check in with how we are really feeling. Other times we know exactly what we are feeling but instead of honoring and expressing how we are feeling in a healthy way, we slap on a smile and act as if everything is okay. We stuff down the ugly feelings and pretend they aren’t really there!
I have certainly been guilty of doing both in my life. But you can start being present with yourself daily, and check-in with yourself to see how you are really feeling about certain things. And honor how you feel! Whether others in your life except how you feel, you still have the right to feel the way you feel! And you don’t have to stuff it down and pretend that those feelings don’t exist.
Are you practicing self-care in your relationships? It is not uncommon for women to be bad at setting boundaries, especially with those that are closest to them. The truth is that many of us are just so used to dropping everything to take care of everyone else that we haven’t learned to set boundaries to protect the time that we need to take care of ourselves! If you are trying to take a relaxing bath to reduce stress and you have children banging on the door wanting attention, it’s going to be very difficult to relax.
If you are wanting to meditate to focus more clearly on how you are feeling and your partner is asking you where their keys are…you won’t be able to meditate. It’s okay to be selfish with “your” time and you may actually have to talk to any children, spouse, partner, or even roommate if they have problems respecting your time. And don’t feel guilty about needing time for you!
Build your tribe
Let’s face it, ladies, we need to have some great female friends that we can talk to, spend time with, and who can be there for us (and who we can be there for). If you do have a significant other in your life, they cannot be everything to us! And there are certain things that men just aren’t wired to deal with as well as a woman is (can we say “dealing with emotions”?). So it is important for us to have that tribe of women that we trust, that we can vent to, that we can cry to if necessary.
Social isolation actually leads to depression because we were born to connect with others. If you don’t have a tribe already, it can seem daunting to face having to go out and make friends! Trust me, I know…I have been there! The best thing that you can do is to find something that you can get involved in that you enjoy. Whether it’s a special class, the gym, local theater. Connect with people that you share common interests with. And then don’t be afraid to ask someone to go and grab a cup of coffee if they seem like they might be an interesting person. It’s not completely comfortable to put yourself out there, but that is exactly how I built my own tribe!
Make stress management a priority
I cannot “stress” this one enough (tee hee). But in all seriousness, stress is the #1 contributor to chronic illness. So if you aren’t taking the time regularly to de-stress and decompress, then you are setting yourself up for illness! You certainly won’t be able to be the world’s best mom, wife, sister, friend, caretaker, or anything else if you wind up sick!
If you’re stressed out then your proverbial cup will run dry….so take the time to fill it back up! Take the time regularly to do some yoga or other exercise, meditate, spend time in nature, watch something that makes you laugh, color, or do some deep breathing. All of these things help you to unwind and decompress! This should be one of the top self-care priorities for everyone!
Reconnect with things that set your soul on fire!
Did you always love to write, or dance, or paint, or garden? Reconnecting with something that sets your soul on fire is actually a way to de-stress. But it also helps you to express who you are from the depths of your soul! It is easy to lose ourselves, and I see so many women who do this when they become a wife or mother…or when they start a job in order to pay the bills. It is easy to let go of some of those passions because the focus shifts. But one way that we can care for ourselves is to take the time to connect with those things that do light our soul on fire. That is a part of who we really are!
Reconnect with your femininity
Let’s face it, we live in a masculine-focused society. Femininity is seen as being weak. Since many women have entered the career world, they have been encouraged to act in more masculine ways. Masculine traits such as assertiveness, action, competitiveness, logic, and reasoning, being a doer, and setting goals aren’t bad….but they have begun taking over our femininity. It is important that you reconnect with your femininity and the sensitivity, creativity, intuitive and sensual part of ourselves that is easy to lose connection with.
Taking some time to be with who we really are as women is a vitally important way to care for ourselves. One of the reasons why more and more women are struggling with a desire to be intimate physically with their partners is that they have stopped connecting with their own femininity. They have forgotten what it is to feel soft, beautiful, and sensual. Taking bubble baths, doing something creative, spending time with other women, doing things that feel sensual to you all can help to reconnect you with your feminine self!
It is never selfish to nurture you! In fact, when you do it regularly, it allows you to be the best you can be…so that you can be there to help nurture others! Make self-care a priority and find some way to nurture yourself today!