What’s Self-care?

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So, what’s the hype around the concept of self-care? Is this just another buzzword that millennials made up? These are the questions that I’ve been asking myself over the past couple of years while scrolling my newsfeed to find shared post after shared post with the bolded word self-care. Obviously, I didn’t do too much reading. But thinking on this term now, and my own rhythms of life, self-care seems essential and not so selfish. I’ve also found that the reason we are sharing about it, or using the word so much, is because it’s a universal need. 

Self-care is exactly what it implies, caring for oneself. That’s not so complex, unless you get in the way of yourself. Though that seems like a selfish concept, it’s not, because taking time to ourselves and getting adequate rest gives us all the ability to keep caring for others too. But as a mom, it’s such a hard thing to do in practice. Whether it’s the self-doubt or comparison or even just the desire to care for our children’s every need at all times, we get in the way.

I distinctly remember the first time I went and got my hair cut after having my daughter. (This was obviously a pivotal moment because I took the picture above at that time). It was months after having her, and I was back at work. My mother-in-law had kept her for me all day, but had insisted that I go do something for myself. It felt completely counter-intuitive and even counterproductive to drive in the opposite direction of home after working all day to do something that seemed so trivial as getting my hair cut. I was full of guilt and doubt, and I couldn’t fully enjoy the moment, honestly. Could my hair have gone longer without getting a trim? Sure! But it wasn’t about that, it was about making a decision early on in motherhood that I am still important and deserve to be taken care of too. If I’m going to teach my daughter that she is valuable, I need to model that I value myself. We can too easily fall into the lie trap that when we are apart from our children, we aren’t loving our children; but more times than not, that is the furthest thing from the truth.

Furthermore, I can best take care my people when I’m taken care of too. We all know that when we are hungry, tired, or juggling too many things, we are prone to have a short fuse with the ones we love most. We are human after all, just like our sweet little ones.

So my thought on self-care is this: if you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for your family.

Ways to take care of yourself and re-energize for your family:

  • Ask for alone time. How refreshing can nap time be when you let it be quiet time for you too? Or heck, take a nap for yourself! Being refreshed and rejuvenated so that you can be present and purposeful with your family is crucial to health.
  • Enjoy something luxurious. – This can be something as simple as a nice, warm nightly bath (my personal favorite!) or splurge on a massage. Just do something that is not necessary but so very needed.
  • Find a new hobby or goal. Some of us enjoy running, while others of us (hi!) find that to be the worst form of torture. So maybe it’s painting or learning calligraphy instead? Find something that brings you joy and do it!
  • Go to counseling. I don’t think this is ever a bad idea. Whether you need to seek help on something that’s immediate, or perhaps there’s a long-term issue that’s hard to let go of, it’s just nice to have someone listen and help you work it out. Knowing that you’ve resolved or are resolving personal issues so that you can fully invest in your family is such a blessing.
  • Say no more. Women are notorious for not being good at this. But it’s really important that we all learn how to set limits, and determine what’s most important for you and for your family. 
  • Spend adult-only time. Work doesn’t count! You can take a trip with your spouse or go to dinner with your girlfriends, but do something that gives you the freedom to take a bit of a break.

You can do it, Mama, take care of yourself and your little one(s)! The two don’t need to be mutually exclusive. 

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Hayden originally moved to Birmingham to attend Samford University. She studied journalism and sociology, but returned to graduate school at UAB after finding her true calling in career as an English teacher. While in graduate school Hayden met her now husband, Andy, who moved back “home” from Auburn to start his adult life. In a whirlwind romance, Hayden and Andy truly grew up together in their short courtship, and got engaged six months later. Hayden and Andy have now been married going on five years, and they live in Ross Bridge with their joy-giving toddler daughter Abigail. Hayden enjoys spending time with family, traveling to experience other cultures and food, entertaining and hospitality at home, building community in her church, cultivating friendships -- old and new alike, getting caught up in a good book with a cup of coffee in the morning or glass of wine at night, teaching children that knowledge is indeed power, and writing to process her thoughts. Above all, she truly desires to see God glorified in all aspects of her life.