Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Having Enough to Give Away

This is my son trying to smooth away the wrinkles in Great-Grandma's face.
 Her positive attitude is a gift to our family.
As women, we give, give, and give some more. (I know this because I've just been through three weeks straight of sick kids.) Our giving nature is what's great about us. But it can also be our downfall.

At one point, I was afraid to answer the phone because I was afraid the person on the other end might be asking for a favor. I was neglecting basic self-care like exercising, eating lunch, and flossing because I was "too busy." Have you ever felt that way? 

Making Small Changes

Three years ago, after I had my last baby, I decided I was going to start taking care of myself. I started exercising more. I put on make-up even when I wasn’t going anywhere. I wore jewelry and tried to pick clothes from my closet that looked good on me. I even bought myself some new jeans. Dressing better made me feel better about myself, and I started eating healthier food. Before I knew it, I’d lost fifteen pounds without really dieting.
 
Around this time, I signed up for my insurance company's health coaching program and got my own health coach for free (if you don't count my enormous insurance premium.) It was great to have someone on my side, helping me set goals and following up to see if I'd kept them. My goals started to snow-ball into other areas of my life.

 I have to add that my life wasn’t exactly hunky-dory at the time I was making these changes. I had my fair share of trials—illness and the death of a close family member were among them. But, somehow, taking care of myself a little bit helped me to feel in control of the situations.

 Benefits of Small Changes

 Even though I made the changes for myself, everyone around me benefited. My husband and kids started exercising and eating healthier. I’d been nagging my husband for years to stop eating candy bars every night, but he didn’t stop until he noticed that I was getting healthier. All of a sudden, the candy bars were no longer a problem. Since I had more energy, we started walking and running together. The kids also joined in, and soon we became a much healthier family. I started to see that when I take care of myself, I don’t need people to validate me. Instead, I can validate other people. Violà! People no longer run when they see me coming. 
 
My husband's grandmother is a great example of filling up your own bucket. At 98-years-old, she has been a widow for over half of her life. Yet, when we visit her, she's the one who cheers us up. Inspiring quotes are all over her refrigerator and good books are all over her shelves. It's clear she's learned to fill her own bucket, so she can give to others.

 We tell ourselves we’re too busy to take care of ourselves. In reality, when we take the time for ourselves, we have more energy to help other people.  How do you take care of yourself?

6 comments:

  1. I exercise, read a book, try and get a soaking bath once a week, go to the temple and lately I've been trying to catch a short nap once a week (doesn't work on Sundays anymore - I hate our church time).

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    1. I'm usually not a nap person, but this week, I'm all over naps. Daylight savings + Eric deciding we need to switch sides of the bed + 5 kids with stomach flu = a big long nap for me.

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  2. I don't always do great at this, but I try to get enough sleep. I don't cope well or function quickly when I'm sleep-deprived. Quick fresh air breaks work wonders for me at work. And I allow myself to break minor self-imposed rules when the situation warrants. Example: I try not to put much effort into cooking on the Sabbath. However, if I'm depressed, sometimes I need to find peace and self-fulfillment in mixing up a batch of cookies on Sunday. I rationalize that since I'm doing it to heal my spirit and it doesn't feel like work, it's okay.

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    1. I totally agree on the self-imposed rule-breaking. I've had to learn to do that too.

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  3. I really need to start taking care of myself more, so I don't feel overwhelmed all the time :( But it's definitely a work in progress for me.

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    1. I don't know if there's any way to get over feeling overwhelmed. I've had to learn that there's no such thing as done.

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