We’ve all heard it: You can’t pour from an empty cup. We’ve probably even rolled our eyes when we were told that while we were sporting dirty clothes, day-old makeup, unwashed hair, and the most exhausted and overwhelmed expression imaginable. Whether you are a mom of busy kids, someone that works all day and has a house to run in the evenings, or just a busy bee that never takes a break…I know how you feel. It’s HARD! I know when I’ve been at my most frazzled and someone tells me that line I’ve thought “Who has time to pour?! I have a sink filled with cups that need to be washed!” In a busy and distracting world where so many of us put the needs and requests of others first, it’s difficult thing to call time-out and take a few seconds to regroup.
One of my biggest issues with the modern “self-care” movement is that it is built up to be something so elaborate and so unattainable that there’s no way that many ordinary people have the time or money to take time that is deemed quality for ourselves. As a stay-at-home mom without a lot of extra money in the budget, it’s hard for me to make the time or money to take a full day away from my kids and spend excess on non-essentials. Even swiping my debit card for a fancy coffee shop coffee makes me feel bad! For me, those expenses are guilt-ridden and cause me to rarely want to put our valuable resources toward myself. When I attempt to do those things in the name of self-care, I ultimately end up feeling stressed out and anxious about the “amazing” thing that just happened. That is NOT self-care!
Here’s what I do know: when I take care of myself, I take care of those around me better. I’m happier, more patient, and more productive. I also know that taking care of myself doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag. Through bad days, trial and error, and a few decades of getting to know myself, I’ve realized that self-care doesn’t have to be this expensive and difficult thing to achieve. We don’t have to book a costly spa day or vacation to feel good and refreshed and like the best versions of ourselves. Most of us have the tools we need to make ourselves feel good right in our own homes! Below I’m sharing a list of my easy and practical self-care routines that can be done regularly without breaking the bank or requiring an appointment.
SCRUB-A-DUB-DUB…SIT IN THE TUB!
I’m typically not a bath taker, most of the time I hop in the shower long enough to get the grime off and then hop out and run out the door, but once a week I fill up the tub while my kids nap and take a long bath. I make a cup of tea, I use a good quality bubble bath, and I soak in water so hot it melts away the thoughts of the endless stuff that waits for me on the other side of the bathroom door. Depending on the day, I have a cup of something good to drink (most days herbal tea, but on special days it’s a big glass of red!) Sometimes I listen to music and light a candle, but most days I just sit in the silence and watch the water and bubbles swirl around. My baths only last about 15-minutes, but it’s such a nice break.
(tip: if baths weird you out because of “dirty water” take a quick shower before or after; I also recommend getting a bubble bath you really love! A good smell can make this experience so much better!)
We are always in such a rush, often we drink things we love without ever really enjoying them. Whatever your special beverage is, take time to sit down and really enjoy the flavor…you are drinking this for a reason! Maybe it’s your morning cup of coffee, afternoon tea, or wine with dinner…appreciate it!
GET OFF YOUR BUNS!
It seems to me that a lot of people have rest days in the name of self-care, but I just don’t agree with that. Think of how good your body feels after you move it and then think of how you feel if you spend the day sitting…which one really feels like care? I’m not saying that you should never have a rest day and I’m also not saying that you need to run a marathon, but I will forever believe that mindful movement is one of the most powerful forms of self-care we can do. Take a walk, do some yoga, have a dance party…movement doesn’t discriminate! And, if you want to make it yoga but aren’t sure where to start, I have an eGuide for that! :)
GIVE MOTHER NATURE A NOD
As I’m writing this, there are 10-inches of snow that’s covering the ground. Does that mean we can’t get outside? Personally, I’m not going for a hike or pitching a tent in this kind of weather, but throwing on a coat and boots to stand outside in the fresh air for just a few minutes is such a nice treat. It’s quiet out there, my kids aren’t screaming at me out there, and it’s a chance to just look around and soak in how cool this earth is. I don’t love the snow but I love how the snow looks. The trees are bare. It’s a good reminder of how big the world and how awesome God made this place.
If you know my yoga practice, you know I love mediation, but you don’t have to be a yogi to join the fun. Meditation has been made so simple now by modern technology…there is literally an app for that! You can also just google and youtube will walk you through anything you need. It doesn’t have to be long, just 5-minutes to refocus your energy and regroup your thoughts can tremendously help you in those stressful and busy days.
PUT YOUR FACE ON AND CLEAN YOUR HOUSE!
This will probably make me pretty unpopular with some self-care advocates because it sounds like work, but I’m not backing down from it. In my lowest points on my most stressful days, putting on my big girl button-up pants, a stroke of eyeliner, and doing the thing I don’t want to do. Maybe it’s cleaning my house so I feel more relaxed when I sit down, maybe it’s balancing the checkbook so I’m not stressed about money, or maybe it’s going grocery shopping to buy nutritious food so I feel healthy and strong after my next meal instead of taking the “frozen pizza for dinner because it’s easy” route. I firmly believe that self-care should be called taking care…taking care of ourselves and our spaces. This isn’t always easy and relaxing work, sometimes it’s just work. Sometimes it’s about saying yes when we really just want to say no. And no matter how often I fight this kind of self-care, at the end of the day I would argue it is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.
EAT GOOD FOOD
In bad days of years gone by, I was definitely guilty of grabbing the cookies, ice cream, or chips in the name of self-care. “Today has been so hard, I deserve this!” I would tell myself to justify . Here’s what I learned: usually after eating the cookies I wouldn’t feel great. Mentally I would feel guilty about the unhealthy food I just consumed and physically I felt like a blob. For something I was doing to make myself feel better, I certainly didn’t feel that way! Here’s what I’ve learned: I feel good when I eat good food. When I work hard and pour thought and love and laughter into a meal, I eat every bite (even one-too-many bites!) and feel amazing. For me, that’s self-care. I am filled mentally and physically. We all have our different triggers, if grabbing the ice cream leaves you feeling like a self-care millionaire, let the good food be the ice cream! But if you have any negative feelings, I urge you to try a different food in your efforts to fill your cup…here’s your permission slip to grab a bowl of vegetable soup instead of slice of pie next time you are feeling overwhelmed and call it self-care!