"We are mothers. We are caregivers. We are artists. We are activists. We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. Our potential is unlimited. We rise."
~ Alicia Keys (Women's March on Washington, 2017)
Suffice it to say that Saturday, January 21st, was a big day. Melissa marched in D.C., and I marched in NYC. I had friends who marched in Seneca Falls, Los Angeles, and Chicago. We marched for all women, for all of us. We marched for healthcare.
But what about marching for self-care?
As women, most of us readily carry a torch, with passion and with strength, for causes we believe in and for people near and dear to our heart. We make it a priority. Doing so helps create a life of meaning--something for which most of us strive!
But do you ever feel like the peddler in Caps for Sale, walking around and trying to balance the many hats piled high on your head? Do you ever feel like you wear too many hats for one person?
Your hats might include: Mother, daughter, sister, wife/partner, chef/baker, scheduler, organizer, cleaner, shopper, budgeter, listener, counselor, driver, repairer, creator, writer, decorator, launderer, networker, work-checker, editor...not to mention career woman and/or student.
Reviewing your numerous hats, you might notice a pattern: Many of them center on relationships. I’m guessing that you spend a lot of time taking care of others and fostering connections and networking in both your personal and professional life.
You know the whole “Take better care of yourself so that you can take better care of others” idea? You might have heard and read so many iterations of that at this point that you no longer bat an eyelash--and you might even scoff: “Yeah yeah yeah, I know I know I know. Now what do I have to bring to this dinner party and what time is that dentist appointment?...”
But ask yourself this:
If you don’t take care of you, then why should anyone else?
And, yes, you do deserve care. And, yes, you do need it. You can be a strong, independent woman and still appreciate someone taking care of you. You can take care of everyone else and put everyone else first and not “need” someone to take care of you, but the truth is, we might feel a lot better if we let someone take care of us, at least sometimes. Even if that someone is you.
Self-care comes first: You have to be a good you for YOU.
You can be a good mother, and a good partner, and a good daughter, and a good employee, and a good coworker, and a good boss, but you also have to be a good you and for nobody else but yourself. No, it’s not selfish: It's self-care.
If it makes you feel better, you can start with that well-known adage: Taking care of yourself allows you to better take care of others. However, though important to remember, that mindset still puts the focus on others. Why not instead consider self-care a prescription? When the doc gives you a prescription, you fill it. You fill it for yourself. So, fill your self-care prescriptionfor yourself.
The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. The most important care you can offer is self-care.
You might spend hours and even days trying to help someone find the help they need. But if it’s help that you need, does this sound familiar?: “It’s fine. I’ll be fine. I don’t need it. I don’t need that appointment, I’ll do it next month...I don’t need that massage. I don’t have time to go to exercise, or cook, or have a ‘girls’ night’.”
How does time magically appear when it comes to taking care of others, yet disappear in a sudden poof when it comes to taking care of you?
My fiance tells me time and time again that I need to make time for myself, to put myself first. And, yes, I admit: This is hard for me. Because I do think that I make time for myself. But I am also very quick to adjust my plans in the spirit of supporting others.
Here’s the Golden Ticket, ladies: You can do both. You can keep taking care of others while also taking care of yourself--and you can also let others take care of you. You deserve to be taken care of, and you deserve to take care of yourself.
What can you do this week to put yourself first?
You might schedule self-care like an appointment:
- Cook a nutritious meal
- Go for a long walk
- Call an old friend and catch up
- Read for pleasure
- Schedule a massage or long-overdue doctor's appointment
- Listen to your favorite album
- Go to a local event with someone you haven't seen in a long time
- Sign up for a weekly class
It’s okay to say no to others so that you can say yes to you. You are just as deserving as others.
That hat at the bottom, closest to your head? That provides the foundation.
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So who marches for you? Hopefully, starting today, you find some time to do just that.
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