Edited by Amanda L. Greene

Sitting in the coffee shop, I check my watch for the third time in ten minutes. I check my phone for messages: no report. Why had my appointment not shown?

Recalling a previous conversation on the telephone, I heard the need in the voice to meet. I rearranged my schedule to accommodate.

What had I given up in order to meet the demand of the moment? Personal self care, exercise.

It’s a pattern for me.

When faced with a packed schedule, this absolutely necessary form of self care: eating and exercise, are the first things I throw out. Why?

Self Care Boundaries

Putting my needs aside for the needs of another has been a habit formed since childhood. A reaction to the unspoken rule “please others, make them happy.” Say and do whatever will keep the harmony in relationships. The problem is being the buffer for others disharmony can leave me feeling exhausted and used.

Boundaries become necessary, but hard to enforce, when your heart really does want to help. But as my health deteriorated from too much neglect, I realized something needed to change. That change needed to come from me. I had to hold the boundary on my eating, sleeping, prayer life, and exercise schedule, but I was having trouble doing that. Why? It seemed selfish.

Once I changed the way I viewed self care, I was able to follow through.

Do you struggle with self care?

How about you? Do you struggle with taking care of you? What areas do you push off or procrastinate? Perhaps for you it is making that much needed doctor’s appointment. Or something that seems frivolous, but really is necessary like a pedicure, bubble bath, massage, or retreat weekend.

Those self care “luxuries” not only help your body, but change your mood, even make you a little easier to live with.

Convinced that Self Care is Necessary

Do you want to know how I became convinced that self care was necessary?

One holiday I drove my mother-in-law round and round the grocery store parking lot. She wanted me to find a spot right outside the store’s front door. But it was the day before Thanksgiving, such a spot did not exist unless you had a handicap sign on your car.

As we looked for a spot, my mind went back to a couple days before. We were at her house. She stormed through the door madder than a hornet. The doctor had the nerve to tell her she needed to exercise. It was not just the weight, it was a matter of health, but she couldn’t see it.

That Thanksgiving, I finally found a spot out front and we went into the store.

Shop Until You Drop

Years later, she was shopping for Christmas, just after the Thanksgiving holiday. She had literally shopped until she dropped. Family was her love. Christmas was her passion. She wanted to find just the right thing for each person. But she suffered a stroke. A stroke that kept her in a wheelchair for nineteen years.

She’s gone now. I keep a picture of her laughing, enjoying herself, but the picture shows her in her wheelchair. She never complained. My father-in-law needed to attend to her, until he couldn’t manage. For him, the strain brought on a heart attack. We visited her in a nursing home. Helped out with her personal needs on holidays when we brought her to someone’s house.

It’s Not Selfish

Looking at her picture, I realized love for your family can block out the time and attention you need to give to your own needs: self care that is necessary to keep your own body functioning at its best. 

I realized taking care of yourself, so others don’t have to, is  love for your family.  It seems selfish, but in reality it’s an act of love that returns many years later.

Challenge Yourself to Self Care

What area of self care have you been pushing off, procrastinating or struggling with because it seemed selfish, unimportant, frivolous, or not worth the hassle? 

By doing self care your family gets to have a relaxed, patient, unhurried Mom, wife, daughter, sister-in-law to enjoy life with for years to come. 

This Valentine’s weekend give your family the best loving version of yourself by taking care of you.

Scripture

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

“And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31 (emphasis added)

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30