After my daughter was born, I fed myself, took showers when I could, and slept when I had the chance. To me, this basic self-care routine was good enough.
However, I was still drained, still lacking, and still wanting more--from life and from myself. The problem is that I wasn't putting forth any extra positive energy of my own.
I also found myself longing for a better body and lifestyle, but could never find the motivation or wherewithal to stick with it.
This narrow mindset, along with my personal lack of well-rounded self-care actually caused me more suffering than the amount of energy it would take for me to change my ways.
So what became the turning point?
I popped back on Instagram after being dormant for a while, and saw the beautiful and inspiring transformations some of these people made in their lives.
I realized I was blessed to already be in the shape that I was in after having a child, and that the only thing stopping me from taking things to the next level was ME!
With few friends or family members nearby to turn to for accountability (my SO totally doesn't count because he would let me have way too many cheat days), I let social media take their place by sharing my personal journey.
If I could make self-care a new habit, then I could also begin to reap the benefits of putting myself first in one of the least selfish ways possible.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
I don't care if you got ten hours of sleep last night, to fully reap the benefits of self-care, you must move your body.
This was something I was not doing enough of. And, no, “chasing” your toddler around the house doesn't count.
I tried to believe that lie because I told it often. “Oh, I don't need to exercise,” I thought, “I'm thin and pick up my baby all throughout the day.” Wrong!
My core was weak, I did a lot of sitting, and my muscles had atrophied from lack of physical activity.
Since starting and finishing the 21 Day Booty Core Program from DailyOM, I wake up almost every single day with loads of energy. I can actually feel my body craving a workout.
You can become this way, too, you just have to start by making physical fitness a habit, which this three week program did effortlessly.
It's a widely known concept that 21 to 30 days is all you need to create a new habit. And I'm a believer!
I used to be the type of person who enjoyed going to the salon and getting a mani/pedi like clockwork, until I wasn't.
Money was tight after our daughter arrived, and I remember longing for the days I used to get manicures, pedicures, and facials.
In time, however, I realized those things weren't even really that important to me, and that I was letting society dictate my feelings.
From there, I sorted out what did matter most, which turned out to be low-maintenance balayage and taking the time to apply makeup and style my hair on occasion.
Incorporating these little things back into my life on a regular basis have helped me feel like my old self again--maybe even better than before. And now, I have less maintenance to concern myself with, which is a huge plus at this stage in my life.
Seek out the beauty/grooming routines you enjoy and value the most and concentrate on those for maximum self-care benefit when you're also short on time.
A class encouraging skincare routines should totally be a thing! My mom never had one, so I guess that's why I never had one either.
Taking care of my skin was intermittent at best, and non-existent at worst.
I am, however, a natural health and wellness writer, so it just didn't make sense to me that I was ignoring this very critical aspect of self-care.
After some research, I settled on a great brand of skincare and have been using it every night, hoping to create a habit from this, just as I did from the 21 Day Booty Core program.
Other skincare musts that we should all be doing include moisturizing, applying sunscreen, and getting issues (like eczema, cancerous spots, etc.) checked out.
Just from doing the things I mentioned above, my mental health has benefited 1,000 percent. However, I didn't stop there.
I began incorporating a daily yoga routine around the same time as the exercise program, and I just can't imagine my life without it now!
Although I woke up anxious the first couple of weeks, I believe it was my body ridding itself of negative, nervous energy.
Since then, yoga has become a safe, calming, enjoyable place for me to practice deep breathing, appreciate my many blessings, become inspired, and challenge myself mentally and physically.
You don't have to choose yoga. It can be anything that brings you mental peace and clarity. Writing, journaling, practicing art, creating something, meditation, reading positive lit, laughing, or going for walk are all viable options. If it brings you joy, make it a habit!
The last place I enjoy being is at the doctor's office. However, annual checkups, pap smears, mammograms, and similar medical necessities are all a critical aspect of self-care.
They may even be life-saving!
Never ignore what your body needs. If it's rest, then sleep. If it's food, then eat. If it's medical care, then make an appointment.
I ignored an eczema flare up on my face for a few months after my daughter was born, and it made me miserable. I should have taken the time to get my self-care in order so that I could enjoy my daughter completely and fully without the annoying and unnecessary distraction.
Being a pro at self-care if you haven't always been takes practice. Start by setting a small goal, “I will do __________ for one/two/three weeks,” like I did, and track your progress. If you can make it to the finish line, then what's the harm in tacking on a few more days, weeks, or months after that?
Before you know it, self-care will open you up to a myriad of possibilities, replace negatives with positives, and eventually become your new favorite habit.