Self-care is beyond taking a bubble bath or treating yourself to a new outfit. Self-care is knowing your needs – emotionally, physically, spiritually – and doing what it takes to meet them. In other words, it’s treating yourself with the same level of care you treat others.

I had no idea just how bad I was at taking care of me until a recent counseling session where it became apparent through my iPhone calendar.

I’d been getting frustrated because I felt I never had time to write, let alone a single evening where E and I could look at each other and say, “What do you want to do tonight?” We took a look at my calendar and it was overwhelmingly stuffed with a dot on every day in the month of July, notifying me that I had something scheduled. NOT A SINGLE DAY IN JULY WITHOUT A DOT, PEOPLE. That means not a single day with margins to be spontaneous or get a pedicure if my heart desired.

As we talked through it, I realized the problem lied with me thinking it was selfish to say no.

When asked by our counselor, “Why do you say yes to everything?” I told her that it’s mostly because I actually WANT to do it all. I’m a yes-girl not out of obligation, but mostly because I want to do dinner with the girls and I want to show up for the event at church and I want to meet for coffee and I want be everything for everyone at all times.

But I can’t be. Not without losing my marbles. (E will testify that I’ve lost them on numerous occasions.)

Here’s the kicker, we aren’t supposed to be everything for everyone. There’s no such thing as successfully juggling the act of pleasing everyone and having a balanced life. Not only is it impossible to do successfully, but trying to please everyone will end up having the opposite effect. Hence, last week…

I committed to going over to a friend’s house for breakfast. I agreed because my calendar appeared to have those two hours free and I genuinely wanted to spend time with these two girls from church. The day arrived and my early morning meeting was running long. Shoot! I thought. I’m going to be late, again! 

By the time the meeting ended I realized that at most I’d have 30 minutes to spend with them before I would need to head to my doctor’s appointment on the other side of town. My soul felt anxious and my stomach dropped as I got a text from my friend who was hosting us asking if I was on my way. I’d done it again. I’d crammed my schedule full and despite having the best intentions, I was unable to make it and ended up letting her down.

I saw firsthand how saying yes just because I wanted to be there led to me disappointing her, which was the last thing I wanted!

Ever had that happen? Are you a do-er, a “yes” man, or tired of being tired? 

Awesome, glad the gang’s all here. 😉

I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book The Best Yes and am revisiting these two quotes frequently:

“We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.”

“Don’t allow the unrealistic demands of others to march freely into your life.”

She’s pretty wise, right? Luckily I have several wise people in my corner and I’m so grateful to share some of the tips they’ve given me when it comes to taking care of myself…

  1. Jason Miller is one of my husband’s best friends and he’s the big brother I never had. The other night we were all having dinner when he nonchalantly said, “I refuse to let other people’s emails become my to-do list.” I haven’t been able to get it out of my head ever since. Why have I been slaving away to make sure no email goes unanswered or sacrificing my scheduled time blocked out for writing just to cater to someone’s last minute request or failure to look something up for themselves???
  2. Let’s not forget that self-care isn’t a one time thing. It’s not something we can put on our to-do lists and check it off. That’s where the idea of bubble baths or new outfits becomes dangerous. Rather, it’s the constant repetition of many small habits, which together ensure you’re at your optimum—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The best way to do this is to implement self-care habits every day.
  3. Jeanne Stevens and the rest of the staff at Soul City Church, where I work as the First Impressions Coordinator, recently did a ‘2018 Vision Casting Extravaganza’ which is a day spent planning for the future. Jeanne talked about how painful it is to cut things out of the calendar, but how necessary it is in order to accomplish the goals we have in place. I won’t forget her words, “It’s easy to say yes. No is a muscle that we must learn to flex.”
  4. It’s a slippery slope when we start using busyness as an excuse for taking care of ourselves. If we’re “too busy” to cook our own meals or take a lunch break or call up the grandparents to say hello, we’re not really too busy at all, we’re simply mismanaging our yeses and need to reprioritize.
  5. My husband, E, is really good at saying, “we’ll get back with you” to allow us time to make a decision before committing. I, on the other hand, need some practice here. I tend to agree in the moment out of obligation and then regret my decision later.
  6. Something I am always hesitant to do, but always leaves me feeling refreshed is when I delete my social media apps for a few days.
  7. My best friend Kaycee is a great role model to me when it comes to self-care. Time and time again she’ll mention that she’s going off the grid on a Thursday night in order to prep herself for a full weekend. She won’t make plans and instead, she’ll treat herself to a solo date whether that’s in her PJ’s and take-out or to a coffee shop to read by herself. She knows what she needs and graciously gives herself the gift of seeing it through.
  8. Although it’s tempting to constantly be attached to our devices, I’ve been taking 15-minute walks midday during the work week and leaving my phone behind. This way, I cannot be interrupted by a phone call or miss out on the beautiful sounds of the city by drowning it all out with tunes. I have no choice but to appreciate nature and pay attention. Shannan Martin, my friend and author of Falling Free started sharing #MinistryofPayingAttention and I love gleaning her wisdom.
  9. A friend who wants to be left anonymous suggested I start a “Compliments File.” Apparently the idea came from her coworker and it sounded vain, but after trying it for herself she’s all about it. She makes an appointment with herself each week to check in and add to the file or simply read through it.
  10. Whole30 taught me something super useful when it comes to self-care. I’m sure I was supposed to get a lot more out of it than this, but it’s as simple as narrowing food choices. Pick two healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and rotate them for the week. Simplifying meal prep: check.
  11. Carefully and intentionally choose who you spend your time with. Hang out with people who emit enthusiasm and positivity, not those whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.

The world isn’t going to end if your phone is off for an hour and FOMO alone probably isn’t a worthy reason to attend something.

Here’s to fueling myself so that I can fuel others. Will you join me?

Less stress and more bless,

Manda

PS. Your comments mean the world to me. Have a thought? Drop it below!

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