As I move through this journey and continue to define what intentional living looks like to me, I am starting to add self-care to my focus. I have always had a sense of needing and enjoying giving to others. I enjoy giving. I enjoy sharing my time, my energy, my gifts, and my everything with those that I love. I have always been like this even prior to having children. In having children, I feel as though I have less time and feel more need to put all of my energy into my family. Over the past few months (to be honest probably years), I find myself chronically fatigued. The past few months, it is compounded by thoughts/feelings of depression and anxiety.
The opportunity of depression has really opened me up to some extent of needing to slow down and take time for me. Although this is incredibly challenging for me, I have found some relief through this process. I remember in my undergrad struggling with continually feeling selfish, which I do think led to fatigue and impact my performance. When I unpack these feelings a little more, I think about the fact that as the oldest of 6 girls, my undergrad was the first time I lived by myself. I was going to school for myself, investing in myself, and doing really only for myself. It did not feel like me. It felt wrong.
As a mom, when I am home I feel like I need to give my all to my children. It is my responsibility to help them grow and learn to become strong, intelligent, wonderful, and God-loving people. I need to give them great manners and a great, strong sense of self. I also look to be the best wife that I can, the best daughter I can, the best sister I can, and the best friend I can. In reality, I am a perfectionist, so I strive for this in all my relationships and ventures in life. This is pressure that I put on myself. It takes a tribe to allow for a well-rounded, strong child. I cannot teach them everything alone. That is okay.
I continue to give and give of myself. It feels great, but I also think that this continually giving has left me depleted of energy in some ways. Sometimes, I feel like the Giving Tree, where I am left as a stump in the woods, but still give to the man by allowing him to have a place to sit. Sometimes, I am that stump and feel that one day there may be nothing left to give. I may not ever be enough.
I think this lack of focus on myself has led to the fatigue and depression. I do not think that I am alone in this. I hear in the stories of other women, moms, and individuals in my life. I hear women say that there is something that they want to do or that they used to like to do. But they no longer do it because they are giving to others or there is not time.
What if the saying was It is always better to give and receive vs. It is always better to give than receive. Or what if we included ourselves in the people we give to? What is the balance we are looking for is simply put a balance of giving and receiving?
So, how does this look and how does self-care relate? I think there is power in giving to ourselves and receiving our own grace. I have started to try to practice self-care intentionally. It is not easy. I am trying to allow myself time to blog, to go for a walk or exercise (most days), allow myself to meditate, to fix my hair, to get rest, to read, or get my haircut. Although these are simple things and do not often take much time, they are important to me. They light me up!
They are actionable items that have allowed me to give a little something back to myself. It does seem selfish sometimes. Since I have started self-care, I am starting to feel like my energy tank is a little fuller. I notice a difference when I have not given myself this time. I feel happier, less tired, and I am able to give more to others.
So, I ask, what are your thoughts? Is self-care selfish? Can you give yourself a few minutes everyday to give to yourself or to receive? What are current practices that do not serve you and could be replaced with a self-care action item?
I truly want to know! Tell me via email or in the comment section below. I want to know what you are doing for yourself or why you are not doing something for yourself.