Working moms have the equivalent of 2.5 fulltime jobs, according to a study conducted by Welch’s. Top reported “mom jobs” include chef/cook, cleaner, teacher, nurse, personal assistant, event planner, among others. And, you likely serve multiple bosses who have different needs, preferences, and desires—which change frequently. Add on the responsibilities of your paying job and it’s easy to see how the work you do equals nearly 3x what we expect of those without caretaking responsibilities.
To do ALL. THE. THINGS., you need enough mental, physical, and emotional energy. Just like a car that can’t run on gas fumes, neither can you. This is why self-care is the opposite of selfish. You don’t have the time or space in your over-capacity schedule to get rundown mentally, physically, or emotionally. Flipping the script, not taking better care of yourself is selfish. People depend on you and expect you to show up in ways you agreed to. Not taking better care of yourself is counterproductive to your dreams, goals, and priorities.
What Is Self-Care?
Currently, on social media, there are discussions about the definition of self-care. Is it the high-end day at the spa or is it making sure you get enough sleep, calm your mind, and find some joy? While I’m a fan of a day at the spa and treating yourself to something luxurious, it’s the proactive, consistent, low-cost practices that define self-care for me.
Part of the process of self-care is getting to know yourself better so that you can accurately assess what you need most at any given moment—the ultimate target of self-care. And, to truly benefit your health, the self-care practices you choose need to work best for you, not your friends, coworkers, or acquaintances on social media.
Self-care is any healthy living strategy that helps restore your mind, body, and spirit on a regular basis. You may enjoy intermittent self-care but to fully benefit you need consistency.
What Happens to Your Health without It?
When your mind, body, or spirit doesn’t have time to recover from the daily expenditures of energy you become rundown. A common head cold becomes a sinus infection or worse, pneumonia. Prolonged tiredness becomes adrenal fatigue. Unhealthy stress can lead to weight gain, thyroid dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, and other issues.
When your immune barriers become penetrable, large proteins and other antigens go to places in your body where they don’t belong. If this happens repeatedly, the immune system gets thrown off track and you become more prone to autoimmune diseases.
One of the things these health issues have in common is that recovery takes energy and time away from what you want to be doing most. Likely, an investment in self-care will cost less time and energy. Would you rather pay now (self-care) or later (health issues)?
How Do You Find the Time to Practice It?
You can find time for self-care by focusing on your mindset and scheduling. Start by believing you are worthy of self-care. As a human being, you’re deserving. As someone who works 2.5 fulltime jobs, you’re worthy. As someone who deserves to be seen as a whole person in your relationships, you’re worth it. I can’t think of any reason that would disqualify a person from deserving self-care.
Once you change your mindset, the next step is to schedule self-care. After all, what gets scheduled gets done. No matter how busy you are, you can find a minimum of 5 minutes each day to focus on just you. If you truly can’t find 5 minutes, then you either need to go back to your mindset and wholeheartedly believe you deserve self-care or you truly have too much on your plate and you should consider stopping the fast train to burnout.
How Do You Find the Energy to Practice It?
Even though it seems counter-intuitive, putting energy into self-care will not only replace but provide a surplus of energy. Drinking a lot of water (half your body weight in ounces) will give you energy. Consistently moving your body will generate more energy. Doing something for fun will generate energy.
Slowly but surely, you’ll increase the amount of energy you have to better meet your responsibilities. To better show up for those you care about most.
What You Teach Your Kids by Taking Better Care of Yourself
Bonus: taking better care of yourself provides an amazing opportunity to model for others, especially your children. When your self-care activities are visible to your family, they learn:
- What it looks like and how to do it.
- That everyone needs and deserves restorative activities.
- That being a member of a family or community includes prioritizing each member’s mental, physical, and emotional energy.
- Important life skills as they take on chores to help create space for your self-care.
- That they can proactively integrate self-care into the life they create as adults. (Such an important gift.)
Wrapping It Up
The #1 reason why self-care is the opposite of selfish is because people depend on you and expect you show up in ways you agreed to. Not taking better care of yourself is selfish. Not taking better care of yourself is counterproductive to your dreams, goals, and priorities. Not taking better care of yourself prevents the teachable moments when you can model for your children and others what self-care looks like and how to do it.
What’s your favorite way to practice self-care? Join us in the Working Moms Who Thrive Facebook Group to share with like-minded women.