legitimate self care (and how i’ve done it wrong in the past)

Self-care has been such a buzzword in recent years. I first started hearing it often (and seeking it) after Lilly was born nearly three years ago. I’d poll other new mom friends to see what they did to take care of themselves and keep sane. Some said to always wake up earlier than the baby to get in some alone time, others said always sleep when the baby sleeps, several people mentioned the need to exercise, and overwhelmingly the chorus resounded “This is why we drink. Cheers!”

“Nourish” was my intended word of the year back in 2017 — I scheduled massage appointments and pedicures and date nights and tried to do all the things to avoid hitting “survival mode” (which is my euphemism for a lighter degree of postpartum depression/anxiety) as we added a second baby to the fam. But then hormones and circumstances kicked in high gear and there was as much struggle as the first time around. I got burned out from too much business and extracurricular commitments I took on because I thought they’d look good. I relied too heavily on sugar, salt, caffeine, and wine to “reward” myself and ended up just feeling sick and tired.

Other ways I attempted to “self care” for myself last year involved frequent indulgent purchases — a good quality hair dryer and curling iron, all the things Beautycounter (better health and grownup beauty, all tied into one!), higher end sandals and boots (quality shoes do make a difference!), new clothes that fit my postpartum mom bod. No single purchase was ridiculously extravagant, but the combined impact was painful on the budget as a whole.

I read some article a few months ago on how ACTUAL self-care involves discipline. Saying no to extraneous purchases for the long-term gain. Saying no to the chocolate cake that will inevitably send my blood sugar skyrocketing and leave me lethargic. Saying yes to earlier bedtime (like when the girls go down at 7:30pm) and healthy meals (that legitimately nourish and fuel the body).  Saying yes to budgeting (and paying quarterly taxes) so there’s less stress down the road.

In my opinion, it’s SUCH a hard balance to strike. It’s basically parenting yourself. Looking out for your own long-term wellness and making decisions that align with that in mind. I do think you can make it easier after a while, once good habits are established (it’s neurologically harder to keep having to make decisions that require willpower… the fewer choices you have to make, the more likely you are to make better ones!). But the process to get there is a hard one.

triangle yoga pose kelly dellinger yoga practice

Legitimate Self-Care Practices:

  1. Complete a Whole30. If you can get yourself to actually DO it the right way (simple is better – eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts; leave the crazy complicated recipes for later when you’re utterly bored out of your mind of the “same old” meals), it’ll get you over your sugar addiction and set up a better mentality with food. But you really have to do it RIGHT and fix your emotional relationship with food. I love love love “It Starts with Food” — highly recommend. I need to go back and reread it!
  2. Once you’re no longer eating junk and drinking wine every night, you can wake up earlier and have energy. This helps tremendously with getting up early to work out. Better choices beget better choices. When all else fails, MOVE YOUR BODY. Yoga & Barre are my favorites.
  3. Drink more water. It shouldn’t be hard. Get a water bottle you carry evvvverywhere and track how much you drink!
  4. Actually read your bible. It’s worth it. Make time for it.
  5. Reading > watching TV or scrolling your phone. Learn something!
  6. Shower, groom yourself, get dressed in real people clothes on a regular basis. Even if they’re athleisure.
  7. Tidy up your spaces. Declutter. Only keep what is necessary or beloved. A clear space = a clear mind.
  8. Budget. Keep practicing. Revisit it. Tweak it. Just don’t abandon it, even if it’s hard at first.
  9. Foster your relationships. Send the thank-you notes. Call a friend. Connect with a human. Have a coffee date. Spend quality time with your S.O. Call your MOM.
  10. Speak to yourself with kindness. What are you good at? Even if you have to seriously think about it, you can come up with some things. Meditate on them. Improve upon them. Capitalize them.

How do you do self-care? Do you consider yourself good at “adulting”? How do you measure success in your “adulting” efforts?

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