January is Self-Love month and Get a Balanced Life month. (Or so I am told by one of those sites that lists all of the real and made-up holidays for the year.) Appropriate I would say for the first month of the new year. New year, new start, new resolutions to break bad habits. I love the beginning of the year when I start a new planner that is filled with blank pages, just waiting for me to fill them up with goals, plans, quotes. This year, I am starting a new system based on the bullet journal approach, but I am using a standard planner (I searched high and low for one I think will work for all areas of my life) because I didn’t want to spend the extra time (or energy) writing out all of my own calendars each week/month.
But back to the reason for my post… Self-love or self-care are important for everyone, as is balance in life. These all lead to less stress and better health and self-esteem, adding up to a happy, joyful, and fulfilling life. Sounds great, right? So why don’t we do these things more? The normal stresses of every day life take their toll. Work, family, kids’ activities, cooking, cleaning, shopping. They all add up. And at the end of the day, you’re so tired from all of that you just want to crawl into bed rather than spend a little extra time pampering yourself. Sound about right?
“One woman filled with self love and self acceptance is a model more SUPER than any cover girl.”
~ Amy Leigh Mercree
For those who suffer from Fibromyalgia, self-love, self-care, and balance in life are crucial strategies to coping with and/or lessening the flares we suffer. For me, balance comes in the form of mostly healthy lifestyle choices:
- Exercise. I try to exercise daily, even if it’s just some gentle stretches and exercises with my foam roller to cope with back and leg pain.
- Diet. I eat a mostly health diet: mostly gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free (although dark chocolate is a weakness). I have found this is the best for my condition.
- Water. I drink a lot of water all day long, some coffee in the morning, and herbal tea at night. Maintaining proper hydration is critical for so many things.
So where do I come up short? These are things I am resolving to try to do better about in 2017:
- I don’t sleep enough. 5 hours a night is typical during the week, 6 on the weekends. 7 is ideal for me – any more and I feel groggy. I would like to get 6 during the week and 7 on the weekends. This means earlier to bed, which will be a challenge, but I need to make a valiant effort to do this.
- I work too much. You might call me a workaholic. I usually work 9-10 hours a day and usually don’t even get away from my desk for lunch. I know this is bad. Very bad. One needs breaks during the day to recharge. I do pack my lunch most of the time (cheaper and healthier). I am resolving to have lunch away from my office at least once a week, and away from my desk twice a week.
- I don’t take care of me enough. I had a massage the other night and felt great afterwards. I have always heard that muscles have memory and therefore regular massages are recommended for fibromyalgia. If you ask me, it should be a reimbursable medical expense, like physical therapy, since it has so many health benefits. I usually wait until the pain is so bad I have no other recourse. I will try to get more regular massages, but for now regular epsom salt baths and quiet time to read are the best I can commit.
- General Time Management.
- Planners and Goals. In addition to my full-time job and my part-time blog, I am also now sitting on the board of a non-profit and serve as a committee-member for my leadership alumni group. So planning my time wisely is crucial. I went back to using a paper planner for writing things down several months ago, with a color-coded system for each aspect of my life (work, personal, blog, volunteer, etc.), which helps me with goals and to-do’s, as well as planning out my blog. I will spend time weekly and daily reviewing goals and to-do’s for both work and home/blog.
- Chores. I am thinking I will start doing some of my grocery shopping online again, as that usually consumes a couple of hours on the weekend. I don’t mind the extra steps I get walking through the store, but sometimes the act of shopping itself can induce or exacerbate the pain. Grocery checkers like to see how full they can fill my bags, since I bring my own, and then I can’t lift them if my back is hurting! I used this service when my kids were little (a good 15 years ago) and they were delivered to my house. Such a time saver, especially when you had toddlers to cope with. That service disappeared, but is slowly reappearing at my local stores.
- Surfing the Web. I seem to lose precious weekend time to time spent surfing the web and social media. I have cut down considerably on the amount of time spent on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter the last few months, and hope to continue that trend. I would rather spend that time reading or getting out and living life!!
Self-love, self-care, and balance don’t just happen. It takes strength and courage to put ourselves first and consider ourselves worthy of our own time. We must be intentional in making ourselves a priority. As a mother, and a working mother at that, I have always put myself last in the list of who gets taken care of – kids, husband, job, house all came first. And then I was too tired to take care of me. But with my kids all grown up and one away at college, now is the perfect time to focus on myself! So in the famous words of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle in Parks and Recreation, “Treat Yo’self!”
What strategies do you use for having a balanced life and taking care of yourself? Do you “Treat Yo’ self”?
P.S. I will check back in a few months to let you know how I am doing with my resolutions and self-care this year.