Here comes another Valentine’s Day.
And with Valentine’s Day comes all the love and the hoopla, the flowers, the candy, maybe a nice dinner out with our significant other in our favorite restaurant. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for flowers, candy (chocolate please), and dinner in a great restaurant. But this year I’ve decided to focus on something else entirely. I’m letting my husband off the hook this year. This year I’m focusing on showing love to myself and the way I’m going to do that is by engaging in self-care. I’m going to share with you my top 10 suggestions for self-care (love) so you can join in the fun too.
Loving yourself doesn’t mean you’re selfish.
Let’s face it, ladies, we are not very good at showing love to ourselves, are we? We work hard all day, come home, and take care of others by preparing meals, doing the laundry, cutting down on the clutter, etc. And at the end of the day, we have nothing left to give to ourselves. I mean, even though the kids are on their own now, we still find it difficult to take care of ourselves. Maybe we fill our time now with taking classes, volunteering, or starting a new business. Where in the world did we get the idea that taking care of ourselves is selfish? That’s completely untrue! But, the bottom line is we don’t show ourselves the love or compassion that we show to others.
I’m the guilty one!
I know this because I’m guilty of it myself. I have a wonderful, loving husband who will come into my home office occasionally and give me a hug or tell me a joke, or want me to come look at a rabbit outside of our window. (He knows I love the little rabbits in our neighborhood and enjoy watching them hopping around foraging for a little nourishment.)
Well, I’ve been working on a huge project lately and have been absolutely chained to my computer. So when he came into my office to get me to take a little break from my intense work, I felt annoyed instead of feeling delighted that he would take time out of his work to encourage me to take a little break. And that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks! I was breaking the cardinal rule that I have preached to others for years, “If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.” And there it was. My husband was taking better care of me than I was. That’s when I decided that this Valentine’s Day I would focus on my own self-care.
Why do we do such a lousy job of taking care of ourselves?
Here’s the truth of it girlfriends. When we let ourselves get so involved in work or overextend ourselves in other types of activities we are at a high risk of getting burned out! Remember when our kids were at home, we were constantly taking care of their needs, taking them to music lessons, or sports practices, and any number of other activities and that was after work.
When my daughter was on a gymnastics team in middle school, we lived about 45 minutes from her gym. I picked her up from school and drove her to the gym across town while she ate a snack and did her homework. After dropping her off, I raced home to prepare dinner for the family, ate dinner with the rest of the fam, and then drove back across town to pick her up. Then we drove back across town again while she ate her dinner in the car and we discussed her day. My schedule was brutal and there was no time for self-care, or so I thought. It’s no wonder that I was constantly getting sick or feeling exhausted all the time. I simply was not taking care of myself. And what’s more, I wasn’t doing a very good job of taking care of others either!
But the kids aren’t living at home now, right?
So what about now that my kids are no longer at home? I’m working two jobs and trying to fit in social activities where I can. So where’s the self-care (love) in my empty nester life? If I’m not careful, it’s on the back burner where it’s always been. And I just bet that it’s on the back burner of your life too! So….I’m calling myself out and I’m calling you out ladies! It’s time for us to show a little love to ourselves this Valentine’s Day. In fact, I’m challenging myself and you to take care of ourselves not only on Valentine’s Day but to make it a priority every day of the year.
Self-care (love) is not only good for us, but it is essential for our well-being.
Psychologists have known for years how important it is to take care of our own needs. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from Psych 101? https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html Taking care of our needs is crucial to our well-being.
So, here are my TOP 10 suggestions for taking care of ourselves on Valentine’s Day this year!
- Get a really good night’s sleep! Our bodies don’t work efficiently if we don’t get enough sleep. It’s scientifically proven that if we don’t get enough sleep, we simply don’t function as well as we could. We can’t focus as well, we have “daytime sleepiness” that affects our work, we don’t listen well to others so we’re not connecting like we should. Even worse, a lack of adequate sleep can affect our heart health among other areas of our body. I could go on and on, but that’s another post. The point is to indulge yourself in a wonderfully blissful night of precious s-l-e-e-p…..
- Eat a healthy meal. Fix yourself a big, healthy salad with lots of greens, carrots, broccoli, olives, or whatever floats your boat. Combine it with a small, lean, well-seasoned piece of meat and some wild or brown rice and you’ve got yourself a tasty, healthy, meal. Now, that didn’t hurt, did it? We can do this!
- Get some light exercise. Oh, come on now, that is NOT a bad word! OK, I admit it, I hate to exercise too! I really do. But I’m not talking about an all-out hour long work out at the gym. I’m just suggesting taking a little walk by yourself. Give yourself time to breathe and process your day so far. I know it’s winter, and this winter has been kicking our butts, however, getting outdoors and just enjoying the nature surrounding us, will brighten our day. Or, if you’re more ambitious, take a relaxing bike ride, or go for a hike. Just move a little; it’s so good for us!
- Go to your favorite coffee shop and people watch while you enjoy your favorite hot beverage. Drink it slowly and savor the aroma and flavor while you people watch. Use your imagination and make up little scenarios about what their lives might look like.
- Indulge in your favorite hobby. Whether it’s knitting, cross stitching, reading, listening to music, gardening, hiking, running, doesn’t matter. Just think of today as your day to do as you please. Spending time on something you truly enjoy nurtures your soul.
- Cuddle up with a nice warm blanket and your favorite pet. Trust me, Rover will enjoy this as much as you do. Connecting with our pets has been shown to reduce our daily stress.
- Take a nice long, hot, relaxing bath. Light your favorite scented candle for a little aromatherapy and drink a cool glass of white wine while you soak in the tub. Or maybe you’d prefer a glass of peach or raspberry tea while you luxuriate in the bath and read one or two of your favorite poems.
- Write in your journal to process your thoughts and emotions. If you don’t have a journal, look for one that suits your personality. Mine is a lovely hand tooled leather one with handmade paper. What is yours like?
- Spend some time alone and immerse yourself in the silence, away from the everyday chaos we live in. My favorite thing to do when I need solitude is to go to the mountains or down by the river and just listen to the sounds of nature. Those sounds don’t intrude but instead nurture the deep down needs of my very being. Where do you go for solitude when you need it?
- B-r-e-a-t-h-e. Take a few minutes to just breathe in through your nose slowly and as you exhale, relax those muscles in your neck and shoulders and feel the tension melt away. R-e-l-a-x.
Now, don’t you feel better? That is what self-care (love) is all about.
If you noticed, I intentionally started with activities that meet our physiological needs and progressed to activities that nurture our deepest sense of self. The simplest one, yet often the most deeply satisfying, is to just breathe and relax our tense muscles. Taking good care of ourselves, in fact, showing love to ourselves doesn’t have to be complicated or break the bank. It often means just taking a few minutes out of our day to do the simple, sweet things of life. Now, love yourself!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
P. S. What is Your favorite way to take care of yourself? Do you struggle with taking time for yourself? What is keeping you from loving yourself?
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