Today’s post is from friend and fellow writer and mom, Katie Pozzuoli. Katie blogs and writes about self-care.
How to Care for Yourself When You’re Pouring Out
Self-care is a popular buzzword in American culture right now; magazines, online articles, and celebrities all urge us to “prioritize self-care.” However, if you feel you don’t have the time or financial resources to engage in self-care, hearing that message on repeat can be frustrating.
One of the problems with self-care in our society is that it’s been watered down to be nearly useless in its current popular form. Most of us, when we think of self-care, picture bubble baths, spa days, and shopping sprees. While those activities can be relaxing or fun—and may even comprise part of your own self-care routine—they likely don’t often address the deeper needs we have.
Self-care is any activity that strengthens us and helps us to care for ourselves—body, mind, or spirit—in a long-term and sustainable way.
Self-care, at its most basic, is about laying the right foundation for comprehensive health. I’m talking about the basic building blocks of a healthy, happy life. Things like adequate sleep, food, a break from screen time, community.
Self-care is especially important when we’re caring for others. Whether you’re a parent, caring for aging parents, or in a caregiving profession, chances are you regularly serve someone. So how do you built a practice of self-care when you’re busy serving others?
Make a List of What Fills You Up
What activities are the most life-giving for you? It might be helpful to think in terms of categories: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Career/Financial, Intellectual, Environmental and Social. (These categories are known as the Seven Dimensions of Wellness, and they form the acronym SPECIES.) The goal is not to be perfectly balanced in all these areas, but to regularly attend to each one. Sometimes when we feel off-kilter in our lives, it’s because we’ve been neglecting one or more of these categories.
Here are a couple of ideas in each category; you can certainly add more!
- Listen to the Bible while you run errands
- 10 minutes of solitude when you first wake up
- Use a prayer app like Lectio 365
- Attend church
- Turn on worship music while you get ready
- A walk around your neighborhood
- 10-minute yoga video on YouTube
- Prepare a nutrient-dense lunch to take to work
- Visit your doctor for your annual physical
- Spend a couple hours on the weekend preparing meals for the week ahead
- Make an appointment with your therapist
- Use a feelings wheel to identify your emotions
- Forgive—yourself or someone who hurt you
- Practice breathwork to calm your anxiety
- Learn a new skill that serves you vocationally
- Learn to create a budget and stick with it
- Save money every month in an emergency fund or retirement account
- Update your résumé
- Attend a class or workshop
- Read a book—fiction or nonfiction
- Listen to a podcast
- Attend a cultural event like a museum or stage performance
- Take up a new hobby that interests you
- Attend a book discussion at your local library
- Organize one drawer or shelf in your home
- Wash or load the dishes as soon as you finish dinner
- Discuss the household chores with others in your home and divide the responsibilities
- Develop routines for the chores you hate the most
- Hire a cleaning service, if your budget allows
- Dinner or coffee date with friends
- A phone call with your sister
- Eat lunch with your coworkers instead of alone at your desk
- Organize a Book Club or Bible study
- Invite your neighbors over for a cookout
How will you make time for the self-care activities that are most life-giving for you? We rarely need to overhaul our entire life, although it might feel like it. And even if we do need an overhaul, we’re more likely to make sustainable progress if we start with baby steps.
Look at your calendar. Start with the small pockets of time when you might be able to intentionally care for yourself. It might be during your work commute, while your kids are at practice, or a couple of hours on Saturday morning. Or you might listen to music or a podcast while you take a walk or make dinner. You don’t have to optimize every minute of your day. Look for the places where self-care might feel like letting yourself exhale.
Ask for Help
God never intended for us to go at life alone. Community has been part of his design for us from the beginning. When we’re pouring out for others, we need the help of our community to care for ourselves. If you’re married, you and your spouse can work together to make sure that both of you are getting the time that you need for self-care. If you aren’t in a relationship, perhaps there’s a friend, neighbor, or church member who would be willing to give you a break from some of your caregiving responsibilities for a few hours.
Get the Most Bang for Your Self-Care Buck
When we think of self-care, we often believe that we need an entire weekend away. However, we might be well-served by an hour alone on Sunday afternoon. Self-care time used well can make up for a shortage of said time, especially if that time is part of our regular routine. (Quality > Quantity)
Additionally, make sure that the activities you’re choosing for self-care are allowing your body, mind, and soul true rest. An hour scrolling on our phones might feel like a break, but rarely do we end up feeling better afterwards. Setting your phone aside in favor of a good book, a conversation with a friend, or a walk through the woods will probably better serve you.
Ditch the Guilt
Finally, if you’re going to invest time in self-care, don’t waste precious time feeling guilty. Remind yourself that you won’t be able to love your people well if you don’t first take care of yourself. Besides that, you’re worth caring for simply because you’re human.
Bio: Katie Pozzuoli is a writer helping women adopt sustainable practices of self-care to thrive. No fluff. No Guilt-fests. No self-obsession. Just real self-care for real life.
Katie has spent most of her adult life figuring out – with a lot of trial and error – how to be healthy in every area of her life. (And, as a constant work in progress, she’s still figuring it out!)
Katie makes her home in Southeastern Ohio with her husband, three children, and their rescue pup.
To learn more about self-care about self-care, follow Katie on Instagram or Facebook, or sign up for her free resource, 5-Minute Self-Care Practices to Cultivate, based on the Seven Dimensions of Wellness listed above.