A few weeks ago, I started to notice a real connection forming between my lack of personal time and self-care attention and my attitude about…everything. By day 5 of not washing my hair, or day one hundred and who knows what of wearing yoga pants, messy bun, and flip flops – I just start to slip into this “grunge” mentality that not only affects my outward appearance, but also my attitude, my hormones, my treatment of the kids and my spouse, and my ability to deal with external stresses.
This summer kicked off with more stress, distraction, and exhaustion than usual. Between our house fire and living in a hotel, to pregnancy, to a very full calendar and to-do list, life has just been fast paced and distracting. And I’ve finally come to an honest place with the fact that the less I take care of myself, the more depressed and messy my outlook on everything becomes.
I’m fed up with feeling gross, and I’m determined to do something about it. I’ve made some lists, I’ve made a few modest purchases, I’ve enlisted the prayer/accountability support of a friend, and I’m praying and working my way to a self-care change for this summer.
This is my “self care” manifesto to me, and I’m sharing it here in public in case some of you feel gross too, and could use some motivation in this area.
[Disclaimer: I’m going to talk about self-care habits that are important to ME, but that does not mean they have to be important to you. Just because I love pedicures, for instance, does not mean I’m judging whether or not your toenails are trimmed and painted. This is pure and simple a list of what external care habits affect my inside self, and your list probably will look entirely different from mine.]
My Summer Self-Care Manifesto:
1. Limit caffeine intake.
I have a bad habit of jacking myself up on coffee early in the morning, and I know it directly correlates to my blood sugar spikes/crashes, and my desire for sweets or carbs later in the day. So I’ve resolved to limit my coffee intake to a cup of Bullet Proof in the morning.
Have you tried Bullet Proof coffee? The stuff is awesome – so incredibly delicious, and super healthy for you too. My mom introduced me to Bullet Proof about a year ago – now she and most of my sisters drink it instead of regular Joe. I whip mine up in my Magic Bullet blender in the morning and it is frothy, delicious, and reminds me of a fancy Latte. The biggest shock is that with the butter and oil, it tastes both sweet and milky without having either sugar or dairy in the coffee! You can add honey to your recipe but I usually just stick with cinnamon.
The crazy thing about Bullet Proof is that you feel full, energized, and not craving more caffeine or other things after you’ve sipped one cup. Here’s a recipe that closely resembles how I make it – just be sure to use grass-fed butter and not regular butter for the health benefits!
When my nails and toenails aren’t cared for and my brows aren’t shaped, it’s weird and superficial of me, but I feel unkempt inside and out. Just taking a few minutes a week to take care of nails and brows makes a huge difference in the way I feel about my appearance – so I’m determined to keep them up this summer.
For mani/pedis, I do my own at home except for very rare occasions. I use OPI or Lancome nail polish, and finish nails and toes with a coat of CND Vinylux Top Coat. The stuff is amazing – it keeps my nails chip free for an entire week.
3. “Do” my hair
I have naturally curly (read “wild”) hair, so especially in the summer time I’m inclined to wear it up in a messy bun or ponytail nonstop. I’m trying to “let my hair down” a bit more and every time I do, I feel more put together. Thanks to my sister Susan, I recently discovered the art of using a curling wand, as opposed to a curling iron, and it’s been such a mom-life time saver! I can quickly add some put-together curls into my wild curly hair in 10 minutes or less, and I can get at least 2 days out of it, sometimes three. I bought the cheapest wand I could find on Amazon and it works great
4. Easy, light makeup routine
I love to wear makeup – it makes me feel dressed more than clothes. I don’t know if that’s a southern thing or a my sisters and me thing, but I like to wear at least light makeup. In the summer I keep it simple – tinted powder, bronzer, Revlon lip butter, and mascara. Takes 5 minutes tops, and it makes me feel so much less “grunge” for the day.
5. Wear nice, pretty pajamas to bed
I remember an older, wiser woman telling me shortly before my wedding years ago “wearing nice pajamas to bed isn’t for the sake of your husband – he’ll be into you no matter what you wear – it’s for your sake – you’ll feel more romantic and feminine on the inside if you look it on the outside.”
How RIGHT she was.
For the first 2 weeks after our fire, I wore my husband’s old flannel pajama bottoms and one of his undershirts to bed every night. I looked like a floppy, unkempt mess, and I felt like the antithesis of feminine and sexy. I’m still shopping around for some cooler, summery pajamas to get me through the warmer months (AND accommodate my growing bump), but I’m committed to staying out of my husband’s dresser drawers and building a comfy but tasteful collection of pajamas. It truly makes a difference in my life (and my marriage!) that’s worth a modest splurge on a few nice pieces.
6. Exercise – in some way – 5x/week
The amount of sweat I produce in a day is directly correlated to my mood, my energy, my eating habits, and my sleep. Of all thee self care commitments I make, this one is most important to me, because it truly affects everything.
I’ve started doing Tracy Anderson’s The Pregnancy Project DVDs. I’m shocked how hard her stretches and ballet moves and basic workout system feels! I am deliciously sore and stretched out after each workout, so I’m determined to keep up with Tracy and add in some extra cardio whenever I can.
7. Protein shakes
Protein shakes and smoothies are the bomb. They fill me up and keep my blood sugar and energy levels where they need to be throughout the day. They also help me refrain from raiding sugary or carb heavy foods that I’m preggo craving but make me feel awful later.
I’m hoping to incorporate at least one smoothie into my diet every day. My husband formulates our family’s own protein blend from an online company (we can choose what type of proteins we want to add, and we can keep other additives and fake sugars out of the powder). Then I throw in all kinds of greens and fruit and good for you stuff. Blythe just blogged a great smoothie recipe, and my friend Whitney also has some delicious, healthy ones on her blog 9 Kid Fitness.
BONUS Commitment: The Sun
In an age of “slather SPF on yourself and stay out of the sun at all costs!” this is a controversial self care commitment, I suppose, especially for someone “my age.” But I’ll be real – I’m a sun worshiper, and precious few things make me feel happy, healthy, invigorated, and at peace more than 20 minutes of sitting outside and soaking in some God-made vitamin D each day. Bring on the slow-grow tan, too – it makes me feel alive. During the kids’ nap time, I plan to sit outside for 20 minutes, soak up some rays and read a book. It’s my definition of the summer good life.
So there you have it – my Mom Self Care Manifesto. I really hope I can maintain these few minutes a day, or a week, for some personal time, because even in just the few short weeks I’ve been trying to get better about self care, I already see it positively affecting my life, and those around me.
Do you set self-care goals for yourself? Does it make you feel better inside and out? Or is this whole post just crazy talk. ;o) Do tell!