We get so caught up in the chaos of life with a million things on our plates everyday. Get that project done at work, respond to those emails, figure out something to throw together for dinner, do a load of darks because you have no clean jeans, when is that electric bill due again? This is the all too familiar internal dialogue we have with ourselves everyday... and if you are married with children I can only fathom how many more things are running through your head on a daily basis. It feels like there is always thing after thing getting added on to a never-ending to do list that is our lives. It is all too easy to let the ever growing list of things we need to do, things we feel obligated to do, and things we feel like we should be doing take the steering wheel of life and drive us straight into one destination, the place where you forget about ourselves and what we really need. What we really need is to take care of ourselves in every and all ways possible.
It's not a bad thing at all to think about other people and things and to put them before yourself. This just means that you are a compassionate individual who has a big heart and thinks about others first a lot of the time. This also means you may be trying to be Superwoman (or Superman) and do everything on your own without any help. Women especially, a lot of us have the innate instinct that we are supposed to take care of everyone, feed everyone, and fix everyone else sometimes before we even think about doing any of these things for ourselves. Whether we are genetically wired to think this way or we learn it by seeing it in our lives, a lot of women tend to take on the role of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of everyone else automatically. This is what we've always seen to be "normal" in the past. Most of the television shows we watched growing up and the movies we saw at the movies featured a family dynamic where the female was taking on all of these roles constantly. Let me add here, kudos to the individuals out there who are challenging this standard! Yes I'm looking at you girl bosses chasing after your dream career and stay at home dads tackling diaper changes on the regular (insert fist bump here). We take on so many roles in our lives and wear so many hats at any given time... We are mothers. We are fathers. We are wives. We are bosses. We are caretakers. We are cooks. We are therapists. We are so many things everyday. This makes it so easy to let the things our body and mind is trying to tell us we want or need get pushed to the side to be acknowledged later, or sometimes not at all.
If a car doesn't get taken in for regular oil changes and maintenance after so many miles are driven, you are bound to run into problems. Neglecting to do the proper care and maintenance along the way to keep it performing the way it was intended to can lead to something breaking, having to take it in for repairs and go carless for several days, and a hefty price tag once the bill comes through. Just like a car, our mind and our bodies need this same type of care and maintenance to keep us being the well oiled machines we need to be in our own lives. It is so important that we pay attention and acknowledge these things to avoid getting to a point where it is too late. Without enough rest, we become tired and sluggish. Without a proper diet, we can gain extra pounds and drag down our health. Without regular exercise, we can become weak and fatigued. Without time off from work, we become stressed out and feel exhausted. If you ignore yourself and the things you need to keep yourself healthy and sane, you are bound to see the effects of it eventually. The same way we make an appointment to take our car in for its regular check up and maintenance, it is time that we start to do the same for ourselves!
If you really practice it on a regular basis, you can actually take cues from your body and your mind to determine what they really need at any given time. This is something I have started doing a lot more lately and I feel it helps me to stay balanced emotionally, mentally, and physically more than I ever imagined. If I am feeling unmotivated while trying to work on something, I give myself the night off from working on anything from home. Now I will admit, this one is extremely difficult for me... If you know me at all in person or on social media, you know that I am always working on 10 different things at any given time. I tend to even take my laptop to bed with me and do emails in the dark well after midnight. So lately if I feel like I don't have the desire to do it and I'm wishing I could just binge watch Shameless instead, that is exactly what I do! I get comfy in bed, turn on my lavender oil diffuser and binge away on episode after episode. Why do I do this? Mainly because my mind is telling me that I don't want to work anymore, and I'm listening to it. If my body feels tired, I'm going to rest it in bed early. Listening to my mind and my body and taking the night off will lead to my waking up feeling rested, refreshed, and much more motivated to tackle the work I had been trying to do the night before. By listening to what my body and mind are saying to me, I can acknowledge what it needs and take action to fulfill those things.
Taking care of yourself can be a number of different things to any different person. For me, I take care of myself by cooking a delicious meal for myself to nourish my body. I take care of myself by reading self help books because they help motivate and inspire me in every project that I do. I take care of myself by going to therapy and acknowledging the emotions and trials I have been through in my life. I take care of myself by removing people from my life that are hurtful or are going to cause me harm in any way. Figure out what it means for you to take care of yourself. Maybe it means taking yourself on a vacation to get away and recharge... Maybe it is taking a personal day from work to just stay in your pajamas all day when you are getting extremely stressed out... Maybe it is going for a long run to exercise your body and clear your mind. Start listening to your body and your mind and seeing what you truly should be doing to take care of you. It might be difficult at first, but focus on the things that make you feel happy and healthy. Focus on the things that make you feel your best. Focus on the things that make you smile.
Now almost 2 years sober, I have found it incredibly helpful and almost healing to truly focus on what I want, what makes me happy, and what makes me fell content and fulfilled. I started putting me first again, and it feels amazing. Some may call it selfish, but there is absolutely nothing selfish about loving yourself first and foremost. You have one life, one body, and one mind, and if you do not take care of them you are not truly living your life the best way for yourself. Time spent focusing and investing in yourself and your physical, emotional, and mental well being is NEVER time wasted. While it may be cliche to say "YOLO", this is one time where I don't truly feel like an absolutely asshole using the slang term to describe something. You only do get this one life, and let's be honest... are you really gonna look back and regret that you spent an evening cuddled up in bed with your chihuahua by 9pm watching Netflix all night? I highly doubt it. So do not feel guilty for honing in on what you want and what you need. Be as selfish as you want to be as long as you are not harming or neglecting anyone or anything else by doing it. With that being said, I will be finishing this blog post to make myself a cup of tea and curl up in my blankets to watch Impractical Jokers and get extra puppy cuddles in until I fall asleep... Because I just pounded out this blog post in one sitting and because I want to take care of myself tonight. And that sounds like an absolutely perfect way to do it on this particular evening. xx .
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