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Self-Care: Life's Balancing Act

“Self-care is so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” ~ Eleanor Brown

How do you take care of yourself when you are the one always taking care of others? If you are a mom, caregiver, nurse, teacher or any human who is always giving and never receiving, it’s time to take a step back from that chaotic routine and start giving back to yourself.

It’s not selfish or self-indulgent to take care of yourself and put your own well-being first. If you don’t make yourself a priority, no one else will either.

It’s especially important for those who are caregivers and nurturing mothers who don’t have any alone time. Self-care is widely talked about and everyone knows the basics, but how many of us really practice it and integrate a self-care routine daily?

I think that daily self-care habits are essential to a well-balanced, restorative life. When you make it a priority to get at least 8 hours of sleep, eat nourishing foods to maintain a healthy gut, exercise daily, incorporate 15-20 minutes of sunlight and/or fresh air, meditate, practice breathing techniques and take technology and screen breaks, we are practicing a balanced self-care practice. It’s not about striving for perfection, but it’s about aiming for consistency.

I always think about eating healthy and exercising as two things that go hand in hand. For me, this has been a practice that is now just ingrained in my daily life that I don’t even think about it. So, when a day goes by that I don’t work out or eat great, it doesn’t set me back. That’s what self-care should look like. Self-care becomes a natural habit that makes you happy, not a habit that is forced or tedious.

Lots of sleep, hydration, healthy eating, exercise, sunlight and meditation are in my daily routine and I have lived a life when these things weren’t in my usual lineup, and my mind and body suffered as a result. I had body aches and pain, migraines, and inflammation. I had leaky gut and I was overweight. I had skin rashes and allergies, and chronic stress in my daily life from my job as a teacher and from my lack of consistency with caring for my own well-being.

I had been working out and eating pretty healthy since I graduated college, but stress was a major destroyer of my emotional and psychological health. I developed excruciating migraines in my late 20’s and had to see a neurologist.

The migraines continued all throughout my 30’s and started to taper in my 40’s. I would get migraines after a really hard work out or when I was running my body ragged at work and not taking time out for myself. It was quite awful actually.

When I was in my late 30’s, early 40’s, I started getting lots of aches and pains and would feel flu like symptoms after working out with my personal trainer or on the weekends because my body was tired from the work week.

I finally started seeing an acupuncturist who helped me tremendously. I swear she was my healing Goddess. I love her so much. She initiated my healing journey. She told me to give up dairy and she gave me meditation, visualization, and breathing techniques to integrate in my daily life.

A few years later, I finally went to an immunologist and learned I had a gluten sensitivity. I gave up gluten in 2014 and within 2 weeks my entire life changed. I started to really pay attention to my body, what I was putting into my body, and how stress was affecting not only my body, but my mind.

I healed my leaky gut which was caused from eating gluten, but more importantly, I learned to trust my natural instincts about my body. I also learned how low levels of chronic stress over years manifests itself physically. There was a pattern over my lifetime of ulcers, skin rashes, migraines, leaky gut, fibromyalgia all because of eating gluten, dairy, and not managing my stress properly.

Therefore, I started to put my health first. Above work. Above my friends. Above my family. There is so much I have had to learn over the years but saying no to people and experiences, getting more sleep, not checking emails after 5pm, going to bed on time. All of these self-care habits became a major priority.

I was always a giver and a doer. I’m sure many of you can relate. My cup would be empty at the end of every day. So, I had to learn how to fill my own cup.

I had to get adequate rest, rejuvenate my health with foods that nourished my body and soul, and replenish my life with solitude, down time, and relaxation. I had to prioritize my well-being.

For me, it was important to heal my own body naturally. I haven't had a migraine in 3 years nor do I wake up in pain or have the issues I had 5 years ago, and I'm so grateful that I listened to myself and took care of my health.

My life is vastly different than it was even a few years ago, and this slower, mindful, peaceful, and appreciative life I lead now...well, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I believe that we all have to follow our OWN health journey and trust and do what is best for ourselves.

However, until we have experienced illness, disease, stress, anxiety or whatever other ailments that may occur, we will never prioritize our own health and well-being, especially if we are a Type-A doer and giver which most women are.

So, I encourage you, if you haven’t already, practice self-care daily. Find the time to do the things that feed your soul and soothe your spirit. Don’t run yourself to the ground like I did and have to spend years bouncing back. Save yourself some time.

To everyone reading this, I wish you great health, wellness, and peace of mind, today and always.

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