You jump (or drag yourself) out of bed in the morning. Maybe you pour a cup of coffee out of necessity. You rush around getting yourself and everyone in your house ready for the day. Maybe that involves getting off to work and school, or maybe that looks more like zoom meetings and distance learning. You cook, you clean, you chauffer, you teach, you work. You go and do and take care of everyone around you.

But, what about you? Who’s taking care of you?

What comes to mind when you hear the term “self-care”?

 Bubble baths? Pedicures?

To me, “self-care” sounded selfish and expensive. I wasn’t sure how spending a ton of extra money on myself, or sitting in a bathtub, was going to help me feel better. It took a little time for me to wrap my head around what self-care really is.

 Practicing self-care means identifying what your needs are, and then taking steps to meet them. While there are basic things we all need, there’s no one size fits all guide to self-care because we all need different things at different times. The key is checking in with yourself and figuring out what you need.

Practicing self-care means treating yourself like someone you love.

As someone who consistently puts the needs of others before my own, this can be hard to do! I tend to focus so much on the needs of other people, that I forget that my needs matter, too.

Would I want someone I love rushing around feeling frazzled? Would I tell someone I love that they’ll just have to deal with not getting enough sleep, not having time to do any of the things they enjoy, not saying “no” to things they really don’t want to do because someone may get mad?

Of course not!

So, why do I expect these things from myself?

So many of us go out of our way for the people we love and then feel resentful and overextended when our own needs aren’t being met.

If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking something like “I do so much for everyone else, but no one does the same for me,” it’s time to check in with yourself and see what needs you have that aren’t being met. And, most importantly, take steps to meet them yourself instead of waiting on someone else to do it.

For example, if you recognize that you’re feeling really tired, what you need might be more sleep. You can practice self-care by going to bed earlier to ensure you get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep.

Sounds easy right? Just go to bed earlier!

But, I’m guessing what’s really holding you back is how to actually do this when it feels like the weight of the world, or at least your family, depends on your ability to just keep going and going and going…

Let me stop you right there. You’re not the Energizer Bunny.

But, you do sort of run on batteries. It’s just that they’re rechargeable batteries and self-care is the power source.

When you start putting time and energy into taking care of yourself, you may have to adjust your expectations by identifying what really matters.

Maybe it matters that the dishes get washed after dinner, but picking up the toys could wait. When you identify what really matters, you can let go of the things that don’t and get on to taking care of your needs.

Give yourself permission to slow down, unwind, plug in, and recharge by practicing self-care.

Because, the truth is, if you’re not taking care of you, no one is.

And you know what? You’re worth taking care of!

For more ideas and information on self-care, check out Jenna Le’s blog post, Self-Care During COVID-19, and this article in Psychology Today, titled Self Care 101.

For more information on identifying what matters, check out Kendra’s Lazy Genius Collective

Lita Chatham, MS, RDN, LD

Lita Chatham, MS, RDN, LD

Registered Dietitian

Lita is a registered dietitian, mama, and public health advocate. She believes that eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, and that strict rules and rigid diets do more harm than good. Lita is passionate about sharing a common-sense approach to healthy eating and encouraging everyone to reject false and misleading nutrition claims – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Lita believes that changing our mindset to one that eliminates blame, shame, and guilt in relation to body size/weight is the first step in ensuring future generations develop healthy relationships with food and their bodies. She believes that kids are like sponges and should soak up messages of self-love and acceptance from the adults in their lives, not be bombarded with weight-centric messages.

Lita is a graduate of the University of Montevallo and the University of Southern Mississippi, and was selected as the 2019 Emerging Dietetic Leader of the Year by the Alabama Dietetics Association. She is an active member in several professional organizations including the Alabama Obesity Task Force, Alabama Dietetics Association, Montgomery District Dietetics Association, and the End Child Hunger in Alabama Task Force.

Read Lita’s Posts