and why I think its important for you!
Self-care is probably the hardest thing to keep up when you feel low and as a new parent I think it’s probably the first thing mums tend to let go, but putting in an effort can make you feel better.
After the birth of my daughter I epitomised this notion and after the separation I struggled even more as I put the kids first. With a 2 yr. old to look after as well, I was hyper-vigilant and wouldn’t leave the kids while I went for a shower. Too afraid to leave them alone, scared to let my daughter cry.
I had really let myself go! I hadn’t had my haircut for years, I had lost so much weight that I didn’t look like me anymore and I couldn’t even look in the mirror. What had happened?? Before the relationship I put pride in my appearance, I wore makeup even if I was just going to get milk, I had my hair done every 6 weeks and I got my legs waxed. I felt confident being me, I enjoyed my curves and I knew I was beautiful.
Where had that woman gone?
I was polar opposite from those good feelings about myself. I remember talking with my counsellor about it. She emphasised how important self-care was and that I really needed to prioritise it. It took what seemed a looong time to find self-care in my routine.
The conversation about self-care made me more intent on making changes to include it in my life and then I read this quote below which really made me realise I did need to change things.
1 : Caring for myself
The first step I took was to have a shower, to make time for a shower, to give myself permission to do this one simple thing. I did it! On the way home I was encouraging myself with positive self-talk, saying things like I can make time for this, even if my daughter cries I am not far away. Below is a pic showing my journal from that day.
I have never looked back, now a shower each morning is a priority, I can’t not have one! It is very important to my wellbeing and I make sure the kids give me space to have a 5min shower own my own. I set the timer and then I get out. But during that time I enjoy the peace, the water running on me, the light coming in through the window, the washing of myself and the care I am taking of my body.
2 : Exercise
Because that first step was a really confronting experience I realised I needed to feel better about my body, so the 2nd step was to work on this.
I decided I needed to get out more, walking with the kids, to incorporate fitness into our life. So when I saw an article in the local paper about personal training with other women who were recovering from DV, I emailed and started training with the fabulous Chevy from Fit express 121. I found this so beneficial. It was hard training in a gym in front of mirrors and having to look at myself at first but as my body started to change and I started to feel fitter and healthier I knew this was exactly what I needed.
The training eventually ended but I kept up the walking and then in December 2014 a lovely lady I know signed me up with The happiness Hunter. I walked almost every week with a great group of women for the first half of last year. I really missed the walks at Jells Park when they ended and I’ve struggled to get back into it since. That there being one of my goals for 2016, to spend more time on my health and fitness because it really matters to my self-care and wellbeing.
3 : Appearance
Whilst working on my body was critical for recovery so was how I saw myself, so my third step was to work on myself image. Because…
“How you see yourself is how others will see you”
Having not had my hair cut for years I decided it was time I finally time I did. Not just a trim but short how I liked it and how I wanted it. I couldn’t afford a colour at first but I booked in for 6 weeks later and got a colour that time. Now I was beginning to feel like me again. In order to keep up feeling good about myself I decided I really couldn’t afford to let it go. So I kept a regular 6 weekly appointment with the hairdresser, with it in my calendar I made sure I always had the money to pay for the cut and colour. I didn’t go to one of those expensive salons, I found a lady who worked from home, whose prices were affordable on my budget. She probably wasn’t the best but it was enough to make me feel good about how I looked and for me that is self-care.
4 : Creativity
Step four was about spending time doing things I enjoyed. I couldn’t always do this with the kids, I didn’t have friends to do things with so I had to think about what it was I used to do in my spare time. I loved craft, making things and art.
So I started looking for inspiration and found this idea for upcycling catalogues and magazines. I started rolling paper to make an artwork, I think I rolled close to 200 pieces of paper that I was going to turn into a mixed media piece to represent 2 yrs. of freedom after DV. I still haven’t made my own artwork but I’ve decide I will do it this year to mark 5 years as a survivor. What it did do, is allowed me some time out from the daily grind, gave me a fun and creative way to meditate and got me thinking creatively again. It ignited a passion within and I haven’t looked back. Begin creative, making things or painting is part of who I am and I need that in my routine as part of my self-care practises to give me that time out I often need.
5 : Environment
The last thing that really turned things around for me was finally creating space in my home that was just mine. For almost three years I shared a room with my little girl. I loved having her close by but I also hated it. I always ended up with my son in bed, and remember often thinking we might as well live in a one bedroom flat.
Their toys took over the living space and by the end of some days you could barely move across the floor. Because it was so much work to pick them up it often just stayed that way. I hated this! It would drive me crazy, but I didn’t have the energy to clean it up on my own.
I recognised that this was dragging my happiness down. It needed to change! The kids and I started cleaning up as they played during the day and we always played a game to pack up before bed each night.
Next I enlisted the help of my mum and uncle to move the rooms around so I could have my own space and the kids started sharing a room. Finally I could go to bed at night and read or play music if I wanted to. It was so liberating to finally have my own space, to have a home I enjoyed being in and this was the one thing that for three years had been missing from my self-care practises.
Self Care is about what makes you feel good Today!
Over the years self-care hasn’t always been just about my hair or clothes or passions or having my own space, it was also about being a mum and making time to really be with the kids, enjoying their laughs and smiles and spending quality time with them.
At present I feel my self-care is a bit low, I haven’t been keeping up with my hair since moving and I haven’t made anything for almost a month now. But I have spent a lot of time over Christmas, New Year and these school holidays with my kids and family relaxing and going slow though. I know however that I need to start doing some of the things from my steps again such as exercise, getting my hair cut regularly and to craft at least once a week. Mainly because these are important self-care habits for me.
While this is what works for me, everyone is different and so your self-care needs will be different too. Working out what your needs are comes down to what makes you feel good on the inside and what puts a smile on your face. There really is no steps or process about self-care, the steps I took where a natural progression for me. They were the things I identified as being wrong with how I looked after myself and how I loved myself in the process of daily life. You need to weigh up the priorities, look at how it will impact on your time, self-care and parenting (if you are parenting) and what will work to make you happier TODAY!
Your self-care practises can change over time or as required, to fit different situations and that’s ok. It’s about doing things that work for you on any given day. You just need to start somewhere small, like I did with the shower.
Lots of the coming steps I used for finding happiness come back to the self-care topic and in the next round I will talk more about how I viewed myself in the early days and how that impacted on my self-care routine.
But for now, go back to your life wheel and see what areas need to improve, that might give you the answers to where you need to put in place some self-care routines and what they could be.
If you go back and look at mine you can see I’ve had a slide in the feelings about my physical environment. It’s mainly due to having no storage at my current home, so guess where all our crap is…yep that’s right in my room. For 2016 it’s my priority in Feb to clean up my space and make it how I want it so I can again feel good about my environment.
This is just an example from my current situation to get you thinking about what you need. I thinks it’s really important to include self-care into your day as you still need to look after yourself, to look after others and you are just as important as they are. If you don’t feel good in yourself, then it makes it harder to get through the day and you never quite shift that low feeling.
Best of luck with finding selfcare…and
Until next week…