Adding Self-Care To Your Priority List

Rachael Pfenninger, Contributing Writer

Whether it’s something we want or not, women often link success with a desire to succeed both outside the home and within it. We want to look younger, keep the house clean, succeed professionally and do everything else on the side – which often includes our self-care. Unfortunately, this desire to triumph can then overwhelm us, keeping us in "work-mode" all day and ultimately leading to a weakening of our overall health.
Though many women associate success with ambition, stamina and discipline, ironically it is these traits that can sabotage our chance at victory. By sacrificing their self-care, women “succeed” at the cost of their self-care, happiness and often their self-worth. This is why women must consider their own care equal to any of their other responsibilities.
Providing yourself with proper self-care requires attention to both physical and mental health. To begin caring for your physical self, begin with paying attention to your body. Physical fitness gives you the upper hand in the both the workplace and at home. Self-care habits like exercising, clean eating and resting not only improve your appearance and immunity, but also your endurance.
Does that mean you need to sign up for the next 5k or challenge yourself to a HIIT workout when you don’t even have a gym membership? No! Think about what physical activities you enjoy most and stick to a regimen that suits your schedule. Instead of forcing yourself onto a treadmill, reconnect with your youth. Did you like basketball? Do you love playing Nintendo Wii? Don't torture yourself, care for yourself. Hit the trampoline park. Try out an obstacle course with your kids. If you feel you can’t make the time, double up your exercise with a task, like dancing while cleaning the house or digging into those weeds in the garden. By embracing any kind of exercise, you are empowering your body.
Though we tend to associate pints of ice cream and bottles of wine with stress relief, modifying your eating habits in a healthy way will benefit you most in the long run. Eating poorly can lead to vitamin deficiencies, weight gain and lethargy. To boost your brain power and longevity, start small by subbing in a veggie or fruit in place of a sugary treat once a day. Pick a healthy protein, like turkey or chicken, and look for a creative recipe. Get your kids involved by taking them to a winter farmers market and designing a snack around an item they pick out. It doesn’t have to be tedious or awful if you add in elements of fun, community and family.
Maintaining your physical health inevitably leads to improved mental health, but that’s not the only way. You can also use self-care techniques such as meditating, resting in the bath, casually shopping, going for a walk or engaging in hobbies. Don’t think you have time? You do! As you find peace, you’ll find your priorities shifting – you’ll move a little slower, but you’ll find that you get the same amount done and feel as much (if not more) satisfaction. If you don’t believe us, try it for one week and evaluate how you feel at the beginning and at the end. Find a routine that works for you and start with small things, like 5 minutes of breathing in the morning or an extra 10 minutes in bed with the TV off at night.
Lastly, one of the most underrated forms of self-care is resting. Ironically, the easy task of resting or sleeping is difficult for ambitious women. Laying down for an hour can backfire, as we dwell on what other tasks we "should" be doing or perhaps we are soaked with feelings of guilt. This all sabotages the benefits of self-care by resting. Show your resting and sleep time the same respect you show to your friends and family. If those disruptive feelings of guilt start to take hold, remind yourself that your rest will allow you to perform better as family member and friend.
As the pressures to prevail build, so does the need for self-care. Though we aim to perform like superheroes, we must remember that we are only human and life is about more than checking off the boxes each day – it’s about finding happiness, peace and sharing that goodwill with the people in your life. Self-care allows us to reach our fullest potential and it can be your recipe for success.
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