When I hear someone talk about self-care I think, You mean like, did I take a shower this morning? As a mom, I feel like a shower is a luxury sometimes! If you’re like me and a shower is the extent of your self-care routine, here’s five research points to get you thinking more about self-care:
Physical. Let’s start here since I mentioned getting a shower. Our body has some basic needs to stay healthy. I know what they are, but often I neglect them. I reach for the doughnut instead of the apple because, let’s be honest, a hot glazed doughnut is just really good. I look for the closest parking place to the door so I don’t have to walk very far. And I have been known to choose to wear closed toe shoes because I would be embarrassed by the state of my feet. As a mom and leader, sleep is precious. No one can survive for very long on small amounts of sleep. If we take a little bit of time to care for ourselves, it directly affects our emotional state … which is the next point.
Emotional. Knowing ourselves and acknowledging our emotions is very vulnerable, but also very healthy. It is OK to be sad or angry or happy or excited, but knowing why is equally important. There is a difference between having a bad day or being emotional because our hormones are riding a roller-coaster and struggling emotionally. Sometimes taking care of our emotional health can be as simple as taking time to breathe or pray or take a nap. But sometimes it can mean we need to seek professional help whether that be a counselor or medical professional.
Psychological. This is closely related to your emotional health, but I like to think of this as being deeper. While on a day-to-day basis, my emotional health may be pretty good, I can sometimes struggle with some deeper psychological struggles. I am a recovering perfectionist, who often fails to avoid slipping back into my perfectionistic tendencies. Brene Brown defines perfectionism as “the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame.” Psychologically, I am just trying to avoid pain. Most of us do something to avoid pain.
Spiritual. This is the deep why we do things. Why we desire to be kind to others. Why we look out for each other. Why we were meant to be in a community of people. God did not create us to live alone but to work together and care for each other. No matter what you believe, this reflects your purpose in life. It is the reason you get up in the morning and is your ultimate goal. If we are neglecting this, all the other categories will end up out of balance.
Professional. Finally we get to the professional self-care. This one is the one I get excited about and yet it is also the one I felt like I knew the least about. How do we care for ourselves professionally? Most of us are conditioned to believe that we must just keep working harder, taking on more responsibilities, and performing with excellence. But the reality is that doing our work with excellence is knowing when to say yes and when to say no. Professional self-care means we know what needs to be done, we have evaluated if each task fits within our vision, and we are willing to say no if it doesn’t fall into either of those. Professional self-care also means you are part of the family. You care for those you work with, you’ve built trust with them, and you can see them as people, not just tools.
Take a few minutes to think about each of these. Is there an area you are really healthy? Is there an area you need to take a little time to focus on giving more self-care?
Jennifer Iverson is the Leadership Content Coordinator at MOPS International. She is an organizer of things and people which also comes in handy as the mother of six children. Jennifer and her husband, Mike, live in central Pennsylvania where you can always find a warm cup of coffee brewing.