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Rethinking Self-Care

Self-care is quite the buzzword lately. It seems every wellness expert has a list of everything we should be doing.

Recently a few of my mom friends and I were discussing how our self-care habits compare to some of this expert advice. Each of us shared our frustrations, as we just can’t seem to "get it together" to meditate each morning, regularly exercise, and prepare all of our meals for the week. During this conversation what stood out to me most was how hard we were being on ourselves, especially when we are all hard-working, ambitious moms with young kids who depend on us. Seriously, if we are making time for any “self-care” practices, we are doing a pretty incredible job!

Then I had another conversation with one of my running buddies where we were discussing our quirky pre-race rituals. My friend shared she likes to have manicured nails because when she looks down at her watch she’s inspired by the vibrant color and reminded of all the hard work she's put into training.

My friend mentioned she noticed that I like to wear mascara on race day. While I've heard many runners scoff at the idea of wearing make-up, I was really thankful that my friend related with the idea that this simple self-care ritual goes a long way to boost my confidence and make me feel like a podium finish is possible. We laughed as I mentioned I also like to wear cute undergarments just in case there’s a medical emergency and my clothes need to be cut off. I’ll admit it, I’ve clearly taken one too many CPR classes! However, something about these quirky habits make me feel strong, prepared, and grounded in my ability to succeed.

Our simple, go-to rituals are probably ridiculous sounding to most people. However, to my friend and I they symbolize self-belief, personal pride, and help us to feel vibrant, happy, and whole. Isn’t this ultimately what we are trying to achieve by practicing self-care anyways?

It got me thinking about other ways I’ve practiced this concept in my life. Again, totally off-the-wall, but when my husband was deployed I was dedicated to shaving my legs every single day. My friends thought I was crazy because not shaving should be a perk of having a husband away. However, back then, my husband was a combat aviator serving in dangerous war zones. Life could be downright terrifying at times! Something about shaving my legs every single day after getting in a great workout made me feel like I was dedicated to taking good care of myself and preparing for that special day when he would return home.

Maybe this is one of my “I’m overthinking life during my 4am commute” moments, but I’d really like us to rethink the concept of self-care. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the idea that we need a complicated, health-inspired self-care plan in order to take good care of ourselves. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned from years of health coaching, it’s that if we don’t feel good about ourselves before we take on some of these major “self-care” habits it’s going to be extremely hard to see them through. Let’s face it, we’re not always going to feel confident and capable, so anything that serves to ground us in self-belief can certainly add up!

Who knows, maybe it’s some of these little things that we do every day to remind ourselves that we are holding our shit together that really add up to make the biggest difference in our lives. I know for myself some of these little things have gone a very long way!

So I’ll ask you – What little things do you do that make you feel especially good about yourself? Are there any small ways you can regularly remind yourself that you are a badass who is fully capable, strong, and confident?

Maybe you keep saying you’ll treat yourself to a cute new gym outfit once you lose a little weight. Well, I’m saying it’s time to treat yourself to an outfit that complements your body and makes you feel fit, beautiful, and strong right now.

I believe we can start a new conversation around self-care – one where we stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to do it all and have the perfect plan. There’s always going to be a bigger and better way to take care of ourselves, but we can also encourage each other to practice self-care by finding small, meaningful rituals that remind us how wonderfully fabulous we already are.

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