A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘self-care

Ever feel as though you do nice things for everyone but yourself?

I know parents in particular struggle with this problem. It seems more important to make treats for the bake sale, wash a teenager’s favourite shirt or pair of jeans, sign permission slips, and help with homework than it does to take care of ourselves. And if we’re married, doing things for our spouse—picking up dry cleaning, confirming appointments, making special meals—often trumps things we need or would like to do for ourselves.

How many of us are so focussed on our families that we don’t make time to eat well, exercise or get enough sleep? How many of us say we’re too busy or we need to put others first?

We are called to serve our family and our community with the gifts God has given us, but if our gas tank runs dry, we won’t be fit to serve anyone.

Maybe the time has come to direct a little kindness toward ourselves. God loves all his children—and we need to remember that we’re included in that number.

Despite the upheaval in my life, I’m not running on fumes because, for the first time in years, I’ve been making a serious effort to take care of myself. I get up early, have a healthy breakfast and work out before I get my son out the door for school. I don’t keep junk food in the house or bake many treats. And I get ready for bed long before bedtime, get the next day’s clothes (workout gear included) ready, and turn in at a decent time. But I’m still not making the grade in the making-time-for-fun department.

 

What small changes would we be willing to make to improve our self-care? Here are some suggestions:

  • Make sure lunches and backpacks are packed and clothes are laid out the night before to cut down on the morning rush.
  • Get ready for bed before bedtime: take off makeup, wash up, put on pyjamas, turn off the television and other devices.
  • Put out workout gear at bedtime to make it easier to exercise early in the day, or pack the gym bag for a lunchtime or an after-work gym visit.
  • Stock up on fruit, veggies and unprocessed foods so healthy choices are always available.
  • Plan fun activities to do as a family: bike rides, movie nights, soccer in the park, a visit to a community festival.

I pray that we would make the effort as well as the time to take better care of ourselves so that we would be fuelled to serve God and care for others.

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Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter of a pilot, or maybe it’s just that I’m a nervous flyer, but I always look at the safety brochure on a plane and listen to the explanation about where the exits are and what to do if the oxygen masks drop down during the flight.

We know it’s important to put on our own oxygen mask so that we’re able to take care of others, yet in our day-to-day lives, how many of us fail to meet our need for a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, or even medical care because someone else in the family might need something—and we have to be the one to meet that need?

Some readers might be nodding, thinking, “Yes, I practically have to beg my spouse to go to the doctor or take time off to rest.” At the same time, others might be wondering why their spouse makes time to take care of their family but not their own health.

Maybe we feel virtuous if we don’t slow down or if we try always to put others first. If that sounds familiar, read these words from Sirach 18:19*:

Before you speak, learn,

and before you fall ill, take care of your health.

If we work ourselves to exhaustion, whether inside or outside the home, what good will we be to our family? If we don’t eat properly, exercise, get enough rest, and see the doctor when we need to, will we enjoy a healthy retirement? Will we make it to our retirement years? Will we have the energy to fulfill our work or volunteer commitments, let alone appreciate our leisure time?

We may tell ourselves that we’ll have time to rest and be rejuvenated on the weekend, on our vacation, during our retirement, or (grimly) when we die. But if our to-do list doesn’t include self-care—dental, medical and eye doctor visits; healthy meals; some kind of fitness routine—we won’t be in any kind of shape to enjoy that downtime. And we need to remember that we aren’t guaranteed any tomorrows; God alone knows when this life will end:

Do not boast about tomorrow,

for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

~ Proverbs 27:1

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.”

~ James 4:14-15

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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