I’m 32 years old, and so far in my 16 years of “womanhood” I have failed miserably in many categories, and this is SO one of those areas I fall short. I have an impulsivity to me… I see something I deem as valuable, and I want to be a part… ministries, leadership roles, fundraising. I see needs and I want to fill them. I have a VERY hard time stepping back, saying no, and watching others do it instead. It’s ridiculous, really. But, its a part of me I fight quite often.
Over the past 5 years it’s been increasingly hard because of the amount life has changed. I won’t go into the details, but if you know me, you know we’ve been on a rollercoaster of extreme highs and difficult lows. My roles have shifted hard and fast, and my life looks NOTHING like it did when I was 27.
In the midst of all that life flying by, it’s been a little easy to lose track of who I am… as I am sure EVERY woman finds at some season(s) of her life.. There are so many moving parts in our stories, so many roles to fill, and things to be done… that its easy to get 2 or 3 weeks into the hustle of life and realize you’ve done NOTHING for yourself, that leaves you feeling “filled-up”. I mean… maybe its just me. But I don’t think so.
And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t new to me because of our last 5 years where I added the title of “Mother” to my list of roles. I did this before kids, too. It’s true of any situation… we throw ourselves completely into what we do and who we serve, that sometimes it’s easy to lose track of ourselves.
And lately, I’ve been cycling…
Do you like my illustration?! HA!
Ok, but seriously, anyone else do this??! Starting from the top…
- I feel FANTASTIC… lots of energy, lots of motivation… ready to crush all the goals and do all the things!
- Conquering… I start the list of to-dos, slaying goals, lots of interaction with others, feeding off the high of getting things done and productivity
- Exhausted… but all the energy eventually fades, of course before everything is accomplished, because my lists are never over
- Unmotivated/checked out… too tired to care, things fall by the waste side, just want to lay around and watch Netflix, which I can’t do, but I secretly wish its all I was doing
- In my “cave”… in complete retreat mode, because I feel a tad depressed, have nothing left to give, and feel like I will never get back to fantastic… until a few days later, my energy returns, and I’m back at the top.
This last “crash” I decided, ENOUGH.
It’s time to rethink this… and get. out. of. the. cycle.
I need to look at how to balance life, our engagements, what fills me up, and where I pour out.
So, how else do you do this but make diagram?! (OK. Stop. I know. But I can’t help it… I’m a teacher, remember) .
PREFACE. This is not a chart like pro/con. I don’t need something like that. I need a healthy way to evaluate where I am being “filled up” and in turn where I am “pouring out”, where both sides hold equal value, but need to be in balance.
It felt weird doing this, because many things on the poured out side are what I value + look forward to most in my days- but they don’t leave me feeling filled up. SO, if you do this, don’t think of it as a one side is better than the other. Think of it as a, where can I grab renewed, refreshed, and energized spirit so that I can engage in activities that require focus, time, and energy. Does that make sense? (probably not, because this is all me. I didn’t get this from Rachel Hollis. So its just my raw thoughts here.)
I think the heart of self-care is here…
am I filling up enough, so when I pour out, there is something to give?
Because, I think we can all say… when there is nothing in the cup, ain’t nothing coming out of it thats of any use to anyone (and probably the opposite is true- what comes out of an empty cup is usually hurtful, to us and others).
And… it works both ways, too. I think it’s important to also say, are you filling up too much?! Are you focusing too much on what you desire and need, and not enough on those around you?
We aren’t meant to be imbalance on either side. We are blessed to be blessings.
SO- what goes in the “filled up” category?!
Well… my friends who commented on my instastories + facebook post really got me thinking. I asked for help here, because I only have my perspective. And, the bottom line seems to be that every woman gets filled up differently. Which makes sense, because even if we look at one aspect of our personalities than make us unique, such as introvert and extrovert, you see that one gets filled with energy from alone time, where the other is filled up by time with other people.
And I float that line… I need a healthy dose of people, with a healthy dose of alone. I think the Enneagram is a great resource into understanding ourselves better, and figuring out how to balance our chart, with the way we were hardwired.
HOWEVER, I do believe there are a few things that really should be on every single woman’s self-care list…. and they are…
- Exercise– doesn’t matter what type… but I believe every woman should exercise at least 3 hours a week (less than 30 min a day average). I run and love yoga. Both are essential for me… but they may not be for you. Play around.. find what works. I promise your psyche and your body will thank you for it.
- Healthy eating- This goes in both of my categories because it EXHAUSTS me to figure out recipes and fit food prep into our lifestyle… but when I do, it pays off x100. When our meals are balanced, and our bodies feel good, it affects EVERYTHING else (as I type this I realized I didn’t eat lunch… and the imbalance continues…).
- Quiet time– Regardless of what your faith is, every person needs quiet time… to meditate, to pray, to seek the Lord, whatever that is for you. Your mind needs quiet, alone, and space. We have too much content coming at us ALL THE TIME.
- Rest– Ladies, we need it… we need to let our bodies have the amount of sleep it takes to rejuvenate. We cannot let our sleep be at the bottom of our priorities list. That laundry, those dishes, that mail you need to send… it will all be there in the morning. Let yourself rest.
Some other things I need to have to care for myself…
- Time with adults- specifically my husband, and other like-minded women. I crave deep meaningful conversation and connection. And getting to hear and be heard is SO vital to me being filled up. (Date night, Girls night, etc)
- Time by myself- I don’t get this much… but I need time by myself, that isn’t exercise, or quiet time with the Lord. I need time where I know I have a few hours and NOTHING is on the agenda. Where I can go and be unrestricted… no one elses schedule is dictating what I am doing.
- Limiting social media- Yep… I have to turn it off. I love that social media allows us to connect and interact, but I can get caught on there, and spend precious time I don’t have scrolling. And when I do this, it makes the rest of my life feel hectic because I wasted time.
- Deep Bible Study- This fuels my fire (Thanks for this phrase Kelly!)… I love to study, and I love to study nothing more than the Bible. To have an hour of uninterrupted, see where this takes me time… it lights me UP!
What self care is NOT
This was hard for me… because this changes from person to person. Like for me… self-care would not be a week at the beach with my best girl friends. Sounds crazy, right?! I would LOVE it, and I am sure the memories would be wonderful, but I would come home exhausted (probably worth the exhaustion though, right?!)
So… here are a few things I landed on that I think are fairly universal…
- The same as every other woman- We are all SO different that we cannot expect the way we care for ourselves to be the same. So if your ideas of self-care don’t align with mine, thats totally fine. We are different, and need different things.
- Over indulgence- Self-care is not an excuse to be over-indulgent… or to be selfish. Like I said, its important to have balance, and to ensure that you are pouring out, just as much as you are being filled up
- Legalistic- Its ok to not exercise one day (or many days)… its ok to eat a brownie instead of a kale salad. Again, balance. Self-care isn’t a check list. Its about actively pursuing things that keep you mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthy.
- Materialistic- I really don’t believe that self-care is a shopping spree. Now, I went back and forth about adding this because I realize I cannot see into, and feel every woman’s emotions when shopping… and I do believe shopping can give you a little boost… but I don’t believe its self-care.
- Selfish- As long as you have balance, self-care is not selfish. It’s needed. It’s good. It’s purposed. Without it, you cannot be who you need to be for others around you.
Finding the balance…
Is hard for me, because in this stage I have to 1. say no to things of value that I desperately want to be a part of, and 2. asking for help. I can’t keep up with it all- and I don’t need to.
I have found, sometimes, people like me, who hear of a need a jump up to fill it, are too quick to believe we are the ones who need to step up. And when we step up when we aren’t supposed to, keep those who aren’t as quick from filling a role they were meant to fill. IF I take on everything, I can do nothing well. And if I take on every need, I hinder others from stepping in.
SO, finding a balance is different for everyone. But I encourage you to really sit, think, reflect, journal, heck… fill in the venn diagram… and evaluate- where do you need to be filled up… and where do you need to be pouring out. And, if you find imbalance like I have… pray. sit in silence. reflect. And make some decisions and where you need to step up, or step out.
Love you all- let’s encourage one another, building each other up, to be the women we were purposed to be.
Britt (——> fall breaking with mascara and gloss only, and no bra!)