I am not a health care practitioner. I am a Mama who has health struggles and am willing to share my experience with others if it can help them. If this helps one person, it was worth writing
I nearly forgot to address what is perhaps the most important part of self-care: Your Health and Wellness. This is what started me on the journey to accepting self-care as a necessity, rather than thinking of it as a selfish endeavor. A health crash will do that to you, you know?
We are all dedicated mothers who love our families, right? We love them so much and want the best for them to the point we sacrifice a lot. We sacrifice our time, and if you are anything like me, you’ve sometimes sacrificed your meals, your sleep, your physical health and your sanity to this job. Let’s be real, here. How many times can we listen to the same question in a day? It’s wearing. Combined with loads of laundry, dishes and the heaps of other menial tasks, our job can become discouraging. That affects our attitude and our attitude affects how we feel. So, let’s talk about our health and wellness a bit -including our mental wellness.
Raising children can become discouraging, but it doesn’t have to. If we are caring for our bodies, minds and spirits, we can better handle our job with the love, grace and the humor that is necessary when it comes to raising a family. Mandy, Stephanie and I have talked about different areas of self-care and we’ve covered everything but this. I don’t know how comprehensive this will be, but here are a few of my thoughts in this area.
The WORD – First, it goes without saying that Christian mothers need to know the Word and we need to hide it in our hearts. Knowing what God says about who we are in Him and about the importance of raising our children for His glory helps give us a reset when we are feeling low. Hanging scripture in our homes, especially in our bathroom or wherever we get ready in the morning, can help remind us of the importance of the responsibility we carry. I’ll suggest Ephesians 6:13-15 to begin with.
“Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”
Care & Maintenance – Next, regular care and maintenance of our bodies needs to be a priority. The older we get, the less we can get away with. It’s a good idea to start some good habits now. I am preaching to the choir here, too, because it is still a struggle for me. But moving our bodies every day, staying on top of our sleep, nutrition and taking whatever supplements we need to help us with deficiencies are a few things every Mom should be doing.
- Exercise – Moving our bodies everyday doesn’t have to be complicated. Get your kids and go for a walk. Go play soccer at the park. Run around your yard with the dog. Be the example they need to learn to take care of their bodies, too.
- Sleep – Get adequate sleep. I won’t spend too much time on this because I am infamous for not going to bed at a decent hour. Just try. Do whatever you can to get the rest your body needs.
- Nutrition – It’s important to educate ourselves in the area of nutrition so we can make wise choices according to our needs. How we eat affects how we feel. Smart shopping for whole foods is important. Learning about traditional food preparation is beneficial and can help us take care of ourselves and our families cost effectively.
- Supplements – I know many say we should be able to get all our nutrition from food. And I believe that was true in the Garden of Eden; but not today. For example, most people who live in the Northern part of the US are deficient in Vitamin D. We’ve found that several of us are deficient according to test results in our family, so we just all take it regularly in the colder months and make sure we get plenty of sunlight the rest of the year.
The Right Health Care Provider – You need to have or find an excellent care provider who listens to you and will help you get to the root of your issues. This is sometimes a challenge. But I’d encourage you to find this person as soon as possible and then don’t put off an annual check in.
It is not normal to feel like you are 80 years old when you are 35. Let’s just make that clear. If you feel that way, something is off. You may have inflammation or a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Annual tests to check for specific things is something I highly recommend. A yearly Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Lipids panel is pretty basic.
If you are having other problems, like joint pain, I’d try an anti-inflammatory diet first. But if that doesn’t resolve it, you might ask your care provider to have a look at your vitamin and mineral levels. Muscle pain is linked to Vitamin D deficiency and so is depression. Magnesium deficiency can be linked to muscle pain and cramping. These are just a few common issues. Do your research, talk to your provider, and he or she will order tests depending on your symptoms.
Do not ignore your health or put off looking into any problems you might be having. You are the Mama, you deserve care and need to have quality of life so you can continue the task of raising your children well. Take the time.
Mental Health – If you have mental health issues that cannot be dealt with via nutritional therapy or you have trauma from your past that has not been dealt with, NOW is always the time. Seek counseling so you can develop the tools you need to deal with it and move on to abundant life in Christ. Do not allow past hurts to steal your present or your future. Take victory over it.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV
Stress Management – We all have stress and we need to manage it. Exercise is helpful. Prayer is helpful. Spending time with friends who understand is helpful. Taking good care of our bodies is helpful. Taking time to cultivate ourselves by learning skills and studying things is helpful. Really, everything we have talked about regarding self-care so far speaks to stress management. And that’s kind of what self-care comes down to, doesn’t it?
When we realize ourselves as individuals in Christ who are worthy of care and we enrich our lives with friends, projects, skills and study, we create a nurturing and beautiful environment for our children, as well. When we nourish and care for our bodies, we are better able to be present with our children and raise them up in the way they should go. And that’s a beautiful thing. So, take care of yourself. REALLY. Just do it.
Next week: I will wrap up our Self-Care Series by pulling it all together when I talk about goal setting.
Be encouraged, Mama. You are doing good work.