Ok, ladies. Here it is. The moment of truth when I ask you if you are really taking care of yourself. No, I don’t care about your eyebrows or your workout schedule. I just mean are you forgetting to take care of yourself because you spend every waking minute taking care of others? So often, women consider themselves selfish if they dedicate any time or energy to self-care, as if the world is judging them for taking a moment to apply a little lipstick.
What the world needs from you is the energized, happy you, not the self-depraved, exhausted you. Your children need a mommy who is affectionate and patient. Your significant other needs someone to rely on. Your friends need you to be a good listener and loyal gal. Your coworkers need to know you are alert and bringing your A game.
So here are 10 simple ways (not the only ways, but 10 I came up with) to care for yourself without making extreme changes to your day and without breaking the bank.
1. Sleep. All of us are guilty of burning the candle at both ends so we can pay bills or waking before the rest of the gang to make sure we have some time to ourselves. But in doing so, do we sacrifice our own health and make ourselves more stressed out? You are better served sleeping your 7 or 8 hours a night and being more efficient during your waking hours. Sleep has been shown to improve everything from memory to weight loss, so don’t skimp here. So grab yourself a comfy pair of your favorite pj’s (or none at all, if that’s how you roll), and start dreaming!
2. Eating healthy. I’m guilty as charged. I grab and go. I cheat when I’m at work lunches. I make dinners that are way too processed and hardly enough “clean” food. In our fast-paced, break-neck society, there is hardly enough time to breath, let alone make good food choices.
But it’s important to care for yourself (and indirectly, your loved ones) by stocking your home with healthy snacks. Hummus, baby carrots, bananas, apples, almonds – these are all great snacks I can throw in my purse. I even found little snack-sized containers of hummus at the grocery store this month. Perfect for dipping vegetables and laden with protein!
As for meals, I try and stick to fruit or whole grain bars without preservatives in them, occasionally succumbing to the bagel and cream cheese temptation when I’m having a bad morning. I do my best to balance my work lunches – salads with protein, even if eating at a fast food joint. I love grabbing hard-boiled eggs, which most markets have in their quick lunch refrigerator section now, too. Dinner is always a challenge with the crazy dance studio schedule I keep, but I try to make sure I balance meals and don’t eat after I’m done teaching (around 9 pm at night).
No more soda. Is this even a question? Just don’t drink it. It’s like putting sugary formaldehyde in your body. Just say no.
3. Nails. As a little girl, I watched my mother paint her nails meticulously at least twice a week, once on Saturday evenings and once midweek when she had done most of her gardening. No excuses – you don’t need a professional manicure. You don’t. Take care of your SELF. At least buff your nails and push your cuticles back once a week, even if you have to do it in the shower. To protect your nails, use Sally Hansen Hard as Nails products. I have always used them to help my nails bounce back after gels, acrylics, splits, etc. Amazing products and even just the top coat will perk up your nails and keep them healthy and shiny.
4. Hair. I’m a dance teacher and a mommy. I’ve spent the last 27 years in a ponytail, a bun, or a french twist. In the last few months, I bough myself new hot rollers and a few new hair products. Now, when I’m tempted to just throw my hair up wet, I’ll make myself blow dry and style it. Now, when I have a messy bedhead, I have a great straightener and can use it to clean up my tresses in just a few minutes. I have gotten countless compliments on how much younger and less “serious” (read: severe) I look with my hair down. I love feeling like I’m channeling my inner Rita Hayworth!
5. Skin care. This isn’t all that hard. Just get yourself a beautiful jar of coconut oil. Seriously. I’ve never fallen so madly in love with any skin care product EVER. Ditch all the chemicals and nonsense, and cut straight to the chase. I use it as eye makeup remover, moisturizer (all over my body), deep conditioner on my hair, and more. If you don’t believe me, check out this article.
6. Undergarments. A little story for you. I once had thousands and thousands of dollars of lingerie – corsets, garter belts, stockings, bras, panties, you name it. Then I got married and had kids. It’s a long story, but I literally got rid of all but one corset. Do you know how lovely it feels to buy yourself cute panties again?!? I’ve put a small allowance in my monthly budget to replace all the crappy undergarments that currently take up residence in my dresser. I’ve begun wearing stockings to work, matching (gasp) bras and panties, waist trainers, and more. Talk about reminding yourself how to feel feminine again! If you don’t belong to Victoria’s Secrets Angel Reward program, make sure you join so you get your coupon in the mail each month for a free panty. That’s what originally got me back in the store!
7. Time with friends. So often, we forget that there are friends who have our back. We often can pick up with them right where we left off, and they will understand every last success and struggle you’ve had. It need not be a coffee date; a phone call will suffice. I like to call my friends when I’m traveling to and from work. Work your way down through your contact list and then start back up at the top again when you finish. Bogged down by kids all day? Try texting a friend and having a shared “virtual” glass of wine while you chat for 20 minutes just after the kids go to bed!
8. Quiet time. Maybe I’m strange, but I can’t live without this. Some of us pray, some of us write, some of us meditate. But everyone needs time to just BE. No obligations, no distractions. So go somewhere alone, whether a walk in your neighborhood, a moment in the kitchen with a hot cup of coffee, a fragrant candle and a good book, or just quiet, silent space in your room. Recharge for 15 minutes. Five, if you can’t manage 15. Allow yourself to be filled up again with positive thoughts and happiness. Breath deeply and remember not to sweat the small stuff.
9. Small luxuries. Speaking of small stuff, can you really afford to NOT grab a copy of Vintage Life? (By the way, I am now accepting subscription gifts if anyone is feeling generous today!) Mentally, is it going to make the world of difference if you get yourself a new travel mug or buy that dark chocolate in the checkout if everyone at home is grumpy tonight? It is, it will make the difference. And you will be a better woman for it this day, week, month. Work it into your budget so you can pamper yourself just a little – those little luxuries go a long way to making day-to-day life less daunting.
10. That one little thing (OLT). For you, this might be clean sheets. It might be cream in your coffee. It might be jamming out to your favorite song in the car. Whatever sets you right and makes you pause for even just a moment to be thankful… that’s your one little thing. My OLT today is my blog. Talking to all of you helps me remember that we’re real, we’re human, and we’re all in this together.