We are all being told that we need to practice self care. In today's fast-paced and stressed-out world, we need to take the time to savor some "me" time, some indulgences, some special treats to make up for the busy lives we live. "Self-care" is a trendy concept, and sometimes trendy concepts annoy me.
And I cringe a little at the not-so-subtle message that we come first and "deserve" to have all our needs met. Sometimes before anybody else's.
I picture a very self-centered woman, sitting on the couch watching a movie and eating bonbons (whatever those are!), while her children run wild around the house.
Or a woman so busy getting her manicure and her massage that she has to order pizza and takeout at night because she's been so busy practicing her self-care that she hasn't taken the time to grocery shop or plan a decent meal. (Now, there is a time to order pizza; I'll talk about that later . . . )
But there really is some truth to the idea that we must take care of ourselves if we are going to be any good at taking care of others. (That's the key really -- the whole point is not just to live to ourselves only, but to have plenty left over for others. When we're happy, it naturally spills over into others' lives.) Some self care is necessary and is not selfish; we need to find a little balance, especially those of us who like to go all out this time of year to make Christmas special for our loved ones and family.
I love opening up my home for friends and family. December, especially, is a time for showing hospitality and love to those dear to us. Cooking favorite dishes and baking cookies and pies. (I'm making up for lost time now that I have a working kitchen again!) Decorating the house so it looks beautiful. Making sure all the sheets on the beds are clean and the bathrooms are sparkling. Selecting just the right gifts or finishing handmade gifts, and wrapping them all in pretty paper and ribbons. Mailing off cards and gifts for those who live far away. Going to parties and getting together with friends.
Fun and happy times.
But, if we're not careful, all this can be a recipe for frazzled nerves, short tempers, and burnout. I'll be just chugging along, checking things off my to-do list, feeling chuffed and I somehow forget that I am a person susceptible to depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I think I should be able to function just like everyone else. (Which is silly, really; like who else? We all have limitations; we all need balance and rest. We need to remember we are human beings, not robots!)
So, I'm reminding myself. Don't forget to practice some self care.
For me, that means asking myself:
*** Have you been drinking enough water? I don't like to drink water, and can forget when I get busy.
*** Are you drinking too much caffeine? I was off caffeine for six months or so. Then I went to my son's for Thanksgiving. With one coffee pot, I was making caffeinated coffee for my husband and son. I had a couple cups, and I tell you, I was flying around that kitchen like Wonder Woman cooking that Thanksgiving meal! So much energy! So much pep! So I have been having a cup or two in the morning again. Have to watch it; it can make me anxious and interfere with sleep.
*** Have you been taking your omega 3s and other vitamins? (Omega 3s help with mood. I forgot today, and just had to get up and do this!)
*** Are you practicing good sleep hygiene? Again, I have slid into old habits, and have to remember that I need to power down the electronics early, take a bath, do something quiet before bed, etc. I start to feel okay, and think I can be on my laptop right up until bedtime. Doesn't work.
*** Have you sat down and spent some time in prayer? So. Important. Just do it.
*** Are you eating healthy foods? I don't need to tell you about all the temptation surrounding us these days. Yes, go ahead and indulge a little. But make sure you also have plenty of fruit and vegetables and don't fill up on empty calories, especially sugars. Talking to myself here. Sugar looks like your friend, but too much, and it will leave you tired and cranky.
|Awesome and weird looking cauliflower. I cooked this up in an Indian dish the other night.|
|Aren't these so pretty? Watermelon radish!|
|And yes, here's the sugar. Making my traditional Happy Birthday Jesus Coffee Cake to freeze for Christmas morning.|
*** Have you allowed yourself some time to read or knit or do something creative? Even if it's just 20 minutes. Again, you are not a robot. (And hey, if you want to sit on the couch and watch a movie and eat bonbons, I'm really not judging. I like to do that myself. A lot.)
And sometimes you just have to cross some things off the to-do list and give yourself a break. Last week I needed an oil change and wheel alignment, and spent the two hours that I had to wait in the waiting room making lists. Two hours of list-making, with day-by-day lists for the next couple weeks! I have a lot to do, but I also realize I've put many things on my list that are not absolutely necessary.
Yes, I want my grown kids who are coming to visit to have delicious homemade-by-mom meals, but I also want to be relaxed and enjoy their company. Through the years I've often thought of the verse in Proverbs . . .
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife. (Prov. 17:1)
I translate this to . . .
Better to order pizza and have everybody happy than to have an uptight and stressed-out mom trying to make everything perfect.
Nobody's happy around a martyr!
So, friends, I hope you all have a wonderful, beautiful Christmas with your loved ones. But don't forget to sit down, put your feet up, have a cup of tea, and enjoy. Whether you call it self-care, or living a balanced life, or just staying sane and happy, it's important.
And remember that Jesus, whose birth we are about to celebrate, said that Mary had chosen the better part, by sitting at His feet and listening to Him. Martha, her sister, who was so busy and frazzled, really should have ordered the pizza and joined her!