Have you ever felt trapped, and like you were unable to break free? I don’t mean in the physical sense where you’re physically bound, but mentally, emotionally, or spiritually held captive by your life? Full transparent moment… I have. I can honestly say that since our move I have placed myself on the back burner, and put the majority of my time, energy, and most importantly my thoughts into my family. You may be thinking, “you’re a wife and mother so why is that bad?” or “that’s what we do, we invest all of our time into our families.” But for me that was the problem. I was putting my all into mothering and “wife”ing (yup, I just made up a word), and not enough into myself. If you’re reading this post you may be in need of this reminder too. And that’s okay, we all need a reminder from time to time. So, here is yours… Start taking care of YOU!
I wish I could tell you my stress snuck up on me, but that would be a lie. Over the past 1-2 months I knew I needed to make a change, but I kept putting it off. We all have warning signs when our stress levels are increasing, but I ignored mine. I ignored my agitation, frustration, lack of patience, being distant, lack of interest, and being in an overall funk. To put it nicely I was walking around looking like a mini version of the Grinch.
With all I know about stress and stress responses I know better. As a therapist & coach, stress, is a topic I’ve spent countless hours working on with clients, researching, and managing in my own life. So, how could I let this happen? Why did I let this happen? And instead of taking steps to feed my soul I fed myself the typical excuses like, “I don’t have time,” “don’t spend any money,” “you don’t know anyone,” “blah blah blah.”
Those closest to me know self-care has a huge priority in my life, but I was seriously slacking. And it got to the point where I could no longer put my needs aside. Remember those warning signs I was telling you about earlier. Well mine got worse. My warnings not only affecting me mentally and emotionally but started attacking me physically. Do you ever experience a pain in your body when something isn’t quite right? Well, if you do that is what we call your body’s physical stress response or in other words your body’s way of telling you to wake the heck up and make a change because you are not okay. My pain shows up on the right side of my head. And man, oh man was it putting up a fight. This pain started in its usual spot, but then migrated to my entire head, down my neck, till it finally reached my lower back. To say the least, ya girl was messed up. Now, some of this pain did have something to do with the fact that the little boy is sleeping in the bed, but that’s a whole other post.
So, guess what? The physical pain did the trick. I was over it! One day I woke up and said, “I’m going to schedule a massage.” One self-care exercise I did religiously prior to our move was getting a monthly massage. Not only did it relax me and made my body feel good, but it was a pre-scheduled event on my calendar. It took about a week and a half for me to be seen, but when I did… It was GLORIOUS! And since my sweet husband told me to take the entire day to myself, I added a few more activities to my list. I got my eyebrows done because I was looking like Oscar the Grouch, grabbed lunch, and blogged in Starbucks before heading home. This was all of 3 hours, but my goodness… WAS. IT. NEEDED. After several months of building up stress that’s all it took to put me back in reset mode. 3 hours! I could hardly believe that in such a short amount of time the weight had been lifted.
So how will I stop myself from falling into this self-destructive trap, and ensure I remain free? These four tips allow me to remain myself and stop me from transforming into the Grinch.
• Know your signs: Make sure you KNOW & LISTEN to your warning signs. Let me say that again KNOW & LISTEN to your warning signs. I know my mental, emotional, and physical signs, but I ignored what my body was trying to tell me until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I know we should never say never, but I am highly confident that I will not let myself fall down that pain staking rabbit hole again.
•Self-care: Essentially this entire post is a reminder to prioritize self-care, so this tip has a few steps. 1) Do something for yourself every day, even if it is only for 5 minutes. Whether you meditate, write in a gratitude journal, exercise (this is mine most days), or sip on a cup of coffee do something for you. 2) Put it on your schedule. Whether it’s a solo lunch date, massage (my fav), or mani-pedi adding self-care to your calendar is a big help and nice addition to your busy schedule. 3) Be honest with yourself. If you’re needing to ramp up your self-care do it! My daily self-care activity hasn’t been enough. And since I’m getting back on the self-care wagon I’ve coordinated with my husband and will be attending a weekly yoga class. And here goes my shameless yoga plug. I LOVE IT! I tried yoga for the first-time last week and it’s all kinds of amazing! So essentially my current self-care cocktail consists of daily physical activity, a weekly yoga class, and a monthly massage. If I can get something else in there that’s an added bonus.
• Nature: This tip is completely dependent on your personal interests, physical location, and time of year. I am a better person when I connect with nature and get fresh air. As a person who has lived in the south most of my life, connecting with nature was easy to do. So, when we moved to Nebraska, I had to get creative. Sit on the porch, go for a walk, lay on the beach, have a picnic outside, go for a drive, or snuggle up with a book staring out your window (I told you I had to get creative). If you’re like me nature is your friend and will instantly make you feel better. Being back in the south definitely helps with this one.
• Brows: When I look good, I feel good, and my eyebrows play a BIG role in that! Remember my Oscar the Grouch reference… I wasn’t joking with this comparison because when my brows grow out, we’re practically twins. Never under-estimate the power of brows.
So, whether you’re breaking free or continuing your usual self-care journey I would like to leave you with a jam introduced to me by my husband, “Get Free” by Mereba which I have been blasting ever since it was introduced. I hope it resonates with you as much as it did with me. Just click the link below to listen.
Now take a deep breath in… now exhale out… it’s time to get our self-care on because we’re no longer trying to get by… we’re trying to get free.