I will be the first to admit that summer and self care don’t necessarily go hand in hand. With three kids at home, it has been easy to push my own needs to the back burner time and time again. But that means my health suffers, and, in turn, my family suffers. So as school kicks back in, I’m turning my focus back to my self care. And I’m sharing in hopes that you’ll do the same!
Let me begin by defining what I’m talking about when I say self care because it isn’t shopping or massages (though those are great too!). When I discuss self care, I look at it from a holistic position, meaning that it involves whole body health including my emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. A very clever friend and fellow coach created an acronym to remember the different self care categories: SHOES!
Yep, shoes. I’ll break it down.
The first S stands for sleep. Why? Because as moms, we spend a fair amount of time managing the sleep of our kid(s) and ignoring our own need to snooze. We make sure everyone else gets to bed at a reasonable hour and rearrange our schedules so the littles are able to nap if they need to. But we don’t put that sort of effort into our own sleep schedules. In fact, a lot of times, it’s quite the opposite. We sacrifice sleep to pack more into our days. But it’s time to change that!
Studies have shown that women need more sleep than men, and that the better rested we are, the better we’re able to function and respond to stress and/or the challenges that arise throughout the day. That means with more sleep you’re going to be a better mom, a better partner, and a better person. So make a goal right now. What bedtime would allow you to get an adequate amount of sleep? For me, it’s between 9:30 and 10, and I can definitely tell the difference when I’ve kept to this schedule compared to when I’ve stayed up too late.
The next two letters stand for H2O and organic living because honoring our body’s need for healthy foods and water is essential to your physical health and your emotional well-being. I’m sure you know the suggested servings for fruits, vegetables, and water, so I won’t go into those, but I will say that sometimes we feel we can’t justify spending the extra money to eat healthier. I’ve had those thoughts in the past. But the truth is when we spend the money to take better care of ourselves, we’re preventing ourselves from spending the money later when sickness catches up. Your immune system is a crucial part of your life. Remember to take care of it. For me, I tackle this part of my self care routine by allowing myself only two drinks a day that aren’t water. I try to drink at least five glasses of water a day, and on great days, I do even better. Adding healthier foods is one of my weak points though. Thankfully, my husband does most of the cooking, and he’s a bit of a stickler for making us eat vegetables with every meal. And now that school is back in session, I won’t be able to get away with microwavable crap for lunch. I’m committing to adding vegetables to my lunch meals as well. What about you? Is water or organic living a weak point for you? How can you change that?
I’m guessing you’ve already figured out the E, but I’ll tell you anyway. In all honesty, it’s my least favorite category, and the one I need to work on the most—exercise. You might be thinking this acronym is heavy on the physical health, but it turns out exercise is actually great for your emotional health as well. Yep, you can boost your self-esteem just by running down the street. And that’s not all. Exercise has been proven to release chemicals in your brain that reduce depression and anxiety and increase your level of inner peace. That’s a lot of benefits for a little work. Still, I’m not one to run unless an alligator or other wild creature is chasing me (seriously, I have stories), so I have to find another outlet. Right now, it’s dance parties in my living room with the two-year-old, and once the weather begins to cool off, I plan to walk each day. I’m looking for something else to motivate me in this category, so feel free to suggest ideas.
The last S stands for stillness, and this is where the spiritual aspect comes into play for me. A stillness practice can consist of many different activities: meditating, journaling, coloring, yoga, or walking. But no matter what you choose, you should absolutely make time for this part of self care. For me taking the time to go within, to connect with myself and my values through journaling is crucial for my emotional and spiritual health. This is the part of my day that fills my cup and allows me to know what I need and to move forward with peace and patience. Every morning, I start my day with a lit candle and my favorite journal, and I pour my heart onto the page. It’s the first part of my day, and a lot of times one of the best parts. For most of the summer, I didn’t make the time to follow my morning ritual. But for the past three days, I’ve savored every moment of it. If you don’t have a stillness practice, I highly recommend trying different things until you find yours. It’s so, so, so worth it.
SHOES is an easy way to check in with yourself and evaluate what you need to change to improve your life. I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.