The media bombards us with images of women who are pencil thin, who look flawless 24 hours a day, and who manage all of their myriad responsibilities without ever breaking a sweat. We often fall into the trap of believing the hype and setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Added to that, on a daily basis we are asked to live up to the expectations of our spouses, our children, our extended families; sometimes even our friends and neighbors. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, if we are not careful, we can lose ourselves in the flurry of activity!
In a self-care workshop I conducted recently, one of the participants said that she would love to build self-care and pampering time into her life, but she didn't know how and didn't know where to begin. For each of us, novice or experienced, let us pledge to ourselves that we will take the necessary time to celebrate ourselves this month, and every month hereafter. Here are some suggestions to get you started or to help you take your efforts to the next level:
· Create periods of solitude and intentionalsilence.
· Pray, meditate and/or connect with God.
· Express your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
· Maintain a gratitude journal.
· Practice yoga.
· Experience and enjoy nature.
· Use aromatherapy products.
· Visit a massage or bodywork therapist.
· Make healthy food choices that honor your body.
· Participate regularly in some form of physicalexercise or body movement.
· Get an annual physical exam.
· Participate in any activity that brings you joy!
Guilt is one of the main barriers keeping women from spending the necessary time on self-care. First, you must decide if you love yourself enough to take good care of yourself. Second, you must come to the realization that if you are not mentally, physically or spiritually healthy, and if you are depleted in any of these areas, you cannot fulfill any of your obligations well.
For those of you who might say, "I don't have time in my busy schedule," I challenge you to find out otherwise! Very simply put - if it is important to you, you will make the time. If the only time you can spare is five minutes, start with five minutes a day. Any one of the first three items on the list above can be done in five minutes or less. Pick one you would like to focus on and go with it. Gradually increase the time you spend until you reach a level that is appropriate for your needs.
If you need more help getting started, read 20-Minutes Retreats: Revive Your Spirits in Just Minutes a Day by Rachel Harris, Ph.D., or Sacred Pampering Principles: An African American Woman's Guide to Self-Care and Inner Renewal, by Debrena Jackson Gandy. The titles of the books don't do justice to the real messages within; 20-Minute Retreats has "retreats" that can be completed in less than 20 minutes, and Sacred Pampering Principles has gems of wisdom for women from all colors of the rainbow. Both books are worth the investment!
"Your truest self. Too often it gets lost amid self-doubt or other people's expectations. Picture yourself peeling all that away, and discovering, once more, the core within. It is what you started out with, what you desire. It is who you are and who you can be. Remember it. Reclaim it. Because when you act from that place you can't go wrong." Author Unknown
More from parenting