Dear love bugs:
I have received so many queries from women who are just simply exhausted from raising children, attending to mates, and holding down super-stressful jobs while going to school, that I decided to address it here this week.
Self care — two words that seem offensive to busy women, is something we often put on the back burner of our lives, until our bodies remind us through illnesses that we MUST slow down.
And yet, we still see so many women plunge ahead, even with the warning signs in front of them.
My hope, then, is to give you an example from my own journey that may help you to make wiser choices regarding your health and well-being.
As I write this piece, there is one set of luggage on the floor half-packed, and one ready to go.
By the time you read this, I will have left home, pointed my car to a destination 10 hours away and I’m probably sitting poolside with friends, laughing until my soul is spent.
Taking care of myself means a long drive alone, meandering through majestic mountains, taking in the beauty that is nature, while playing my favorite songs or listening to podcasts I never had time to do.
It is stopping at scenic points to take pictures, choosing to have a meal whenever I felt like eating, and communing with the Creator.
There will be no emails answered, no business calls taken and with each passing mile, I would have released the stress that built up in my shoulders and head.
I would have shaken off the cobwebs of disdain, judgements and apathy from others, worry and fear about anything else, and I will slowly begin feeling revived to the woman within that I am familiar with.
Once arriving at my destination, I may sleep an entire day, to get caught up on the too-early mornings, and too-late nights. I will not think of the volunteer activities looming ahead, and aside from letting my loved ones know that I am safe, I will shut down anything that feels like I am running on the hamster wheel of life.
By the time I would have returned to pick up my other piece of luggage heading to parts known and unknown, I will be ready to resume my life, with some adjustments, as I now choose to fully embrace that with which I find purpose and joy.
I learned years ago that burning the wick at both ends serves no one well. I also learned that when I took the time for self-care, I was a much better wife, mother and business owner.
My journey may be vastly different from yours — and self care may mean different things to you, too. The beauty of it is this — it is one of individual preferences.
Your happy place may be on an island, or it may be one hour alone sipping a cup of tea in a tranquil space. Whatever it is, take the time to do it.
Learn to delegate.
Learn to say no — and mean it.
Learn to say that you are tired. It is not a curse word and does not mean you are weak, either.
Find your tribe of people who will hold down the fort while you are gone if you have young ones at home. That village concept is a real thing.
Learn to let your tears flow — it is more cathartic than one could ever imagine and gives your brain a reset after a good cleansing cry.
Learn to go with the tide and consider this, your life is unfolding just as it should — the good, bad, and yes, even the ugly. Lessons abound in it all.
Watch a sunrise, and a sunset.
Get a yearly physical so you stay aware of physical challenges.
Go for long walks.
Eat what gives your body clean fuel to burn for more long lasting energy, because unless you know a place where you can buy spare body parts, the ones we have, need to serve us well.
If you can afford to have your laundry done, do it. If you cannot, it is perfectly okay to choose a nap and let the laundry wait. I promise you — the clothes will not get up and walk away.
Join an activity that makes you happy like karaoke, bowling, or picking strawberries.
Start a garden. There is very strong data that suggests gardening is therapeutic and many leaders tinker around in one.
Choose mates who will support your social and emotional health in whatever form it takes and speak your truth in love. No one can read your mind. Let your thoughts out so you can be heard.
Get rid of that which no longer serves you. It could be the too needy friend, the super awful job, the dress that stopped being flattering eons ago, or the mate that takes you for granted in more ways than ten.
Most importantly, can we stop pretending that we have perfect lives and perfect homes? If you have to constantly put on “airs” to please your tribe of friends, you need a new tribe. True friends do not care that your car isn’t vacuumed to perfection or your house is a tad “lived in,” because life happens.
The bottom line is one of finding the reset button in order to be most effective, because stress leaves you looking haggard at best, and kills at its worst.
If you want your soul to breathe, you must give it permission to do so. It all starts with you.
We can’t be Mother Earth to everybody on a parched land of thoughts and deeds.
Decisions and choices. Make self care priority number one, and everything else will fall into place.
I promise you.
The advice offered in this column is intended for informational/entertainment purposes only. Use of this column not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. This column, its author, the Philadelphia Sunday SUN newspaper and publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.