Mama Health: Motivation for Self-care

Before we moved, life was complicated. My spouse was working in a non-accepting environment and I dreaded going to church every Sunday. But apart from that, I had never felt so healthy in all my life. My marriage was amazing, my parenting relationship to my kids was being transformed more and more, my confidence was growing by the day it seemed.

Since moving I’ve felt it slip a little. Moving is exhausting, and sometimes I was less than the parent I wanted to be. The week we came out to family, my body freaked out. I had sores in my mouth, and came down with the worst case of mastitis I’ve ever had. Telling family about the parts of our life that we knew they would not understand, was scary and exhausting. Under the following barrage of negativity, I found myself slipping some more.

How could I dare to be honest about things that family would be distressed by, wasn’t it selfish for me to refuse to pretend anymore? I suddenly started having days where I hated my body again, something that hasn’t happened in over a year. I started letting more and more time go by in-between showers, sometimes I realized towards the end of the day that I hadn’t really eaten yet. I think subconsciously I felt like I did not deserve care. It is still far too easy for me to slip into the old patterns of thought, after all I lived there for years, telling myself those lies.

You are a bad person.
You are not good enough to deserve love and care and approval.

You are not as important as everyone else.
You are a failure.
You are ugly.

I was starting to feel frustrated, I knew I had come so far in being able to value myself and yet, here I was fighting all the old lies again. It felt like all of my work had been for nothing. A couple weeks ago, I talked about this for like 5 nights in a row with my Hunnie, working through the patterns and trying to figure out what was going on. And eventually we hit on something that really helped me to realize that my recent negative thought patterns are not because all my work has been fruitless, I’ve just had a relapse. A relapse that is understandable since I spent so much time in the past thinking of myself in that negative light. I’ve just fallen off the wagon of self-care and self respect so to speak.

So I’ve begun the process of self care once again, telling myself that I am worthy of care, even when I don’t feel like it. Making sure I get into the kitchen and eat each meal, and letting myself go take a shower at the end of the day. I actually went back and read the series I wrote on Mama Health when I was first starting to take this seriously, and began to implement those ideas again.

Instead of telling myself that I am a failure or that I can’t do anything right, I have started to ask myself what IS going well. And there is so much that is! We’ve moved to a new place, finances are going OK, our new schedules have been working fine, we are making friends and becoming part of a new community. All of the paperwork involved with moving back to our country of origin and claiming citizenship for our children born abroad has been resolved. We got phones, we got library cards, we got the car imported. And after filling out countless applications and going for several different interviews, I officially have a job now that is near bye, has flexible hours, and I feel very confident that I can succeed in.

Life is good. We are doing awesome. We are not failures.

I’ve started to ask what exactly makes ME feel happy, what gives me peace. Some of the things on the list are so simple. A house that is fairly clean, time spent with my children, time spent with my Hunnie. Creating good food, eating good food. Reading good books, listening to music. Taking the time to soak my feet or stop and smell some flowers. Getting outside, being creative, snatching those moments of quiet during my day. Why should I deny myself any of those things? Caring for myself benefits me and the people around me. It is worth it!

What are some of the ways you take the time to care for yourself?

What I Understand
Re-post: I am Not My Parents
Children of an Atheist talk about God
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  • Michelle Hughes

    I find that it's a cycle of falling off somewhat and then getting back on. It's crazy, but while some things become habits and are hard to fall out of…other things are not as easy to maintain.

    I try to make time to workout even if its just a 30 minute walk and I have to load up the stroller and make the kids come with me. :) I also get my hair done regularly (speaking of…I think it's time again!) I find that I am happy when my hair is colored (and the gray doesn't show) and styled

  • Janet Oberholtzer

    As I struggled with depression following severe physical accident injuries, I went through a time of "Project Me" figuring out what I liked and what I didn't like and realizing that it's not selfish, but okay to care about myself. (growing up in a critical household in the strict tradition mennonite culture has taught me that caring about myself was selfish)

    I realized that a big part of taking care of myself means eating well, moving and spending time outdoors.
    So moving outdoors is like a double rainbow for me :) This can mean walking, biking, hiking or running… with a combination of running/walking being my main exercise. Yes, it takes time and hard work, but not only is it good for my body, it keeps me balanced and sane!

    So yay to you! Keep on caring for yourself… because you can!

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    Congratulations on your recovering for your relapse and your new job ^^ It's important to take care of yourself before you can take care of anybody else.

    When I want to relax I usually prefer to blank my mind of all problems by reading a book, manga or blogs.

  • Incongruous Circumspection

    What if NOTHING is going well? Then are you a failure?

    Right now, my code isn't working and I have no idea why. My desk is getting holes in it from beating my head against it. At least knocking myself out might rid me of this irritation.

    Anyway, I agree.

  • Melissa

    Lol. Not a failure, even when your code is failing. You still have a beautiful wife and kids and a life. I hope your code starts working though, that can drive one insane!

  • Melissa

    Paula- Thank you! It feels good to be finally employed, even if it is part-time, it's a good fit for me. I also love to read, and lately I've been enjoying getting science DVDs from the library.

  • Melissa

    Janet- Yes! I used to believe that caring for myself was selfish, and I still find myself in that pattern sometimes. I love the idea of "Project Me", it's been amazing to start asking what I like and what I don't like. I am just starting to exercise some, and I think it is going to shape up to be a really good experience.

  • Melissa

    Michelle- The cycle idea makes sense, because there are times where we are more and less busy. The key is climbing back on the wagon I suppose. :)

  • Molly

    I second the cycle – the world is full of them. I notice it with my house and my selfcare. I do really awesome for a couple weeks, then things get busy and something falls aside (I'm very guilty of going multiple days with washing my hair, vacuuming, etc.) then it reaches a breaking point and I use that for motivation for jumping back on the wagon.

    I would venture an opinion that taking care of yourself right now is the best way to show those who are "coping" with your new life that the day to day aspects are normal – you do the same activities, eat the same foods, etc. When you're on the wagon do so to prove your naysayers wrong =)

  • Sandra

    I call mine the I <3 Me Project. I keep my hair colored and cut well even though the price of my fab hairdresser makes me choke a little (and if she charged me her regular rates I'd probably not think I was worth it) and a couple months ago I started buying myself flowers that I keep by my bedside (where I spend most of my at home time with my chronic illness). I also bought myself a new wardrobe as we've moved into summer that is mostly SPF clothes to protect from my sun allergy (instead of the one SPF pants and top I've been wearing for the whole of the last year) and some tops with a little embellishment (even though they won't last as long as the sturdy tee shirts I buy cheap at Goodwill. I finally sort-of realized that the money is an investment in my mental health and my family is only as healthy as I allow myself to be.

  • elbereth32

    I fought self care for so long it would be funny if it weren't sad. My mom never took time for herself, why should I? It took my husband and a counselor to make me realize this was not wise. I was a pressure cooker and when time came to let off steam, there was no outlet. It took 8 years (nuts, huh?) to finally let myself take care of myself on a regular basis. My idea of relaxing took the form of karate classes twice a week and taking off at least once a month to have a day alone to do whatever.

  • lucrezaborgia

    Sleep and sex are my main things. Weird huh?

  • Incongruous Circumspection

    Did someone say sex?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • TwisterB

    Haha. I WISH sex was a self care thing for me. The truth is, if I feel bad about myself I don't want anyone near me.

    My new self care thing is running. I used to hate running, I couldn't run a mile without stopping to walk. I was always gasping and cramping. So at some point, I decided I was going to get in good enough shape to be able to run a mile. And then somewhere in there I started to love running.

    Now I run at least a mile 6 days a week, usually about 15 miles total. If I don't feel like running I know I'm depressed so I force myself to run because it makes me feel better.

    I used to struggle with eating disorders, and running has helped me be relaxed about what I eat, because now I'm more worried about getting the proper fuel I need for a good run.

    I like how you referred to negative thinking as a relapse. That is a very astute observation.

  • Karen

    Reading the post, my first thought was: who's listening in on my sessions with my therapist??? Because we talk about these same issues. You all, you're not alone….

  • Mrs. Searching

    I know it kinda goes without saying – but other people don't get to tell you what you are. It's good that you have the tools now to see the "relapse" for what it is. Take care. :)

  • Melissa

    Doh! Those totally make the list for me as well. Not sure how they didn't make it into the post. I should write a mama health post on sex and sleep one of these days. :)

  • Melissa

    Yes! I know what you are talking about. It took 5 years of marriage and 3 kids before I finally started to get help. I love the idea of karate classes.

  • Melissa

    I'm seeing a consistant pattern of people listing exercise as one of their self-care practices. So interesting.

  • Melissa

    Knowing we are not alone is so powerful.

  • Incongruous Circumspection

    Sex = exercise.

  • Melissa

    Yes, I've been having healthy thought patterns for long enough now that I can recognize when I slip back into bad patterns.

  • Melissa

    So true, except it unfortunately takes privacy as well, something that can be hard to come by with multiple children in the house!

  • Incongruous Circumspection

    Agreed. Except, in our house, you can lose the kids pretty easily. You get your exercise in before they even realize you're gone. Then…POP! You appear and they're none the wiser.

  • Melissa

    Aahhh, the benifits of having a larger house. You guys probably get your excercise just running around to find a hiding place from the kids. Lol. We manage somehow, although it involves a little more late nights or turning on a movie for the kids than I'd maybe like.

  • Incongruous Circumspection

    Yep. You're welcome to a romantic weekend getaway at our crib sometime. We'll leave the premises and go to Hawaii or something.

  • TwisterB

    ^ awesome