After me, you come first
Have you ever heard those words? “After me, you come first.” I personally don’t know too many women who subscribe to that approach to self-care but, more of us should — including me!
I was brought up to take care of everyone else first. That’s just the way we were taught. My mother was a nurse, so I saw this play out in spades every day of my young life — that’s all she did was take care of everyone else. And really well, I might add.
Women are natural-born nurturers so we take on this role without question. That is, until something breaks.
For my Mom, debilitating migraine headaches would erupt when the stress got too much for her. They would land her in bed in the darkness and she needed absolute quiet. That was a tough need to meet with four young children in the house. I have no idea how she managed to raise her family, work full-time at night at the hospital and come home each morning to get us off to school — more times than not, it seemed, with a migraine. She was taking care of everyone else first.
For me, the stress manifests in my shoulder-blade muscles and neck — to the point where it’s hard to take a deep breathe without pain. It usually gets to that stage when I have not been taking care of myself — I stop walking for exercise because there is no time or I don’t take enough breaks in the work day because there is too much to do.
Sound familiar? What happens to you when you put yourself last? I would love to hear what your experience is and how you remedy your stress. Just leave a comment below and let me know.
5 easy self-care ideas
What can we do to change how we care for ourselves? Are there some simple things we can do that release the stress and are not too hard to squeeze into our daily routines? I think I found a few self-care ideas that will help. I started doing them and they do make a difference. See what you think:
- Make quiet time for yourself — sit quietly, breathe deeply, let your mind relax and take a break. Listen to the sounds of the world around you. Sit outside and hear the birds chirping or the wind rustling the trees or the children playing. Find the peace and the pleasure in your world. This actually takes only a few minutes to do once you get the hang of it and once you start, you may want to spend even more time doing it. I like to practice this twice a day: once before I start the day to clear my mind and get focused on what I need to do and again at the end of my work day, which allows me to be more present for my hubby in the evening. Find what works for you.
- Move your body — everyone knows that exercise helps us to relieve stress, and it doesn’t take a strenuous workout to make a difference. Most experts will tell you that a 30-minute brisk walk each day is a great start. Not everyone loves to work out (and I’m one of those people) but, when I get on the treadmill each morning for 30-45 minutes it kick-starts my energy and gets my heart pumping. I actually set an alarm on my calendar to remind me each morning to walk, which helps this exercise-phobe to make it part of my daily routine.
- Make bedtime precious — often we don’t sleep well when we are stressed because there is too much on our minds. We keep going, taking care of others, right up till it’s time for bed. If we start to unwind 60-90 minutes before we go to bed, we’re more likely to sleep better. Reading a book can work well to take our mind off what’s rolling around in our heads. Turning off the television, putting aside the smart phone and turning off the computer helps us to rest our weary heads and gives us a chance for a good night’s sleep. Or taking a warm bath and relaxing before jumping into bed may do the trick.
- Be grateful — I love this phrase, “Have an attitude of gratitude.” There are so many things for which we can be grateful in our everyday lives and practicing this gratitude is powerful. One way to feel that power is to write in a journal or notebook every day the top 3 things you are grateful for. I like to use ‘sticky notes’ and put them where I can see them often throughout my day as a reminder. I have one on my computer today that says, “thank you for the blessing of my friend, Maureen, who is always here for me; for my husband, Jim, who does so much for me; and for my little dog, Kharma, who makes me laugh at her antics.” Yesterday’s said, “I’m grateful for fresh berries and yogurt, the hummingbird outside my window and friends who support me.” It’s easy and powerful and reminds us of what’s really important. This practice puts into perspective our relationship with the world around us and the role we play in it.
- Schedule time on your calendar for self care — you make appointments on your calendar all the time and you keep them, don’t you. You don’t break doctor appointments or meetings with your boss, right? So, make an appointment with yourself and do whatever you choose to do for YOU. It works. Be sure to give yourself permission to be flexible when “life happens,” but don’t forget to put yourself back on your calendar if you have to move a ‘self-care’ appointment. How often did you schedule time? Once a week? Twice? Every day? Fabulous! How much time did you schedule? A half hour? Were you brave and bold and scheduled an hour? Good for you! What do you want to do during that time? Read? Meditate? Walk? Get your nails done? Go to a yoga class or the gym? Schedule the time and keep your appointment with YOU.
Repeat after me, “After me, you come first.”
Make this your day ~~~ Explore … Dream … Discover!
Chief Inspiration Officer | SafeHarbor Coaching | For women facing life transitions
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