I don't know about you, but for years, actually 42 years, I took it that I needed to take care of everyone until one day, as I was sitting on the phone with my social worker, and she said, what do you do for self-care? I looked at the phone like it had two heads; I said to her that, "I take care of everyone else, and I work full time and planning a wedding, and my dad was just diagnosed with cancer. I have no time for me", her words were, "well you better start making the time, or else you will be sick".
See, for years I took care of my parents; growing up they were never well. Then I met my fiancee and my world turned to just him and his son. Plus, if you have a grandma like I do, who says "well, you better take care of your man, it's your responsibility," I was like are you kidding me? When is it my turn? I looked in the mirror, and I said to myself, " you need to start taking care of yourself, cause no one else is going to do it for you." So that my friends were the turning point that I needed in my life,I think part of me didn't think I deserved to be taking care of or that, and I started on my journey of discovering what worked for me in my self-care regiment.
After doing a lot of research and a lot of reading, I found out that self-care encourages us to maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves so that we can transmit good feelings to others. You cannot give to others what you don't have yourself. Self-care also reduces stress in our bodies. Our body reacts in such a negative way to stress that it shuts itself down when we put too much stress on it. Stress hormones can have a negative impact on your heart, blood pressure, cholesterol, and mental health.
Let's get real for a moment, self-care is not a reward; it is a critical component to living a balanced and happy life. What if we changed the narrative and started telling ourselves that we need time for ourselves, that it's crucial? What if we made it about longevity and wellness rather than work achievements? When we keep putting ourselves at the bottom of the priority list, you are actually saying, "I am not worth it"
I challenge you to start your change in thought process. I did something I have never done this weekend. I have a lot of family responsibilities, as the oldest child and grandchild, there is sometimes a lot that falls on me. I have POA (power of attorney) for my grandma and she has dementia. To make a long story short, it has now needed for me to step up and exercise the POA and get her into a retirement home since she is at a point where more help is needed, and with my parent's health, it is no longer ok for them to take care of her. It is also my birthday weekend and my husband has been working seven days a week, and he is very tired once he is done work. I had arranged for a full day on Friday, July 2nd to have a day with just the two of us, doing what I love. A walk on the riverfront, lunch at the Sandbar, and then mini golf and some shopping to pick up some stuff we needed. Well, would you not know that Friday was the day the home wanted us to move her stuff in so that on July 5th, she could just move into her new home. I said to my family," I am sorry, but I have had these plans for a while, and I don't want to change my plans, and I know that my husband could not get another day off.
My parents understood, and it felt amazing that I didn't change my plans because of an obligation. Plus, all week, it was needed to do some extra self-care for me to through this week as the last two weeks have been extra calls trying to get her into the best home possible and setting up all that is needed with that. I am blessed and thankful that I have had the help of my parents and aunt and uncle to help me. My self-care started Wednesday with a massage, Friday with my day out with my husband, Saturday with a haircut and dye job cause covid restrictions have finally lifted a bit, and tonight dinner at an amazing restaurant.
To recap what self-care really means:
Reduces stress in the body
Helps us to refocus
It means nourishing our bodies
Telling ourselves its okay to slow down
Actually doing the things we enjoy
Protecting our schedule
Our personal and intimate relationships suffer less
I ask you "what is the one action you can take today to take care of you first"?
I would really love to hear from you, and hear what your first action was.
That is all, for now, friends; if you would like to dive deeper into this topic, I offer 1:1 coaching and just launched our 10-week group course.
Dorothy Graham O'Dell
Overcomer Coach, Author, Live show host