Autism Mom, Life

Practicing Self Care // Challenges of Making Life Beautiful

April 19, 2017

Practicing self care may mean doing different thing for different women. To me, the words ‘self care’ used to mean a spa, or lighting up a candle and putting on a calming face mask for ten minutes before bed, or drinking a Pomegranate Martini on a date night with V. During my early thirties, life became busy, stressful and demanding, so I started looking into the concept of work life balance. I PROMISED MYSELF to squeeze one or two of the things I listed into my schedule, but finding time was difficult and the idea died down.

When I got married and had kids, I started living my life the way my mother did ~ no one in the world watches you like your kids watch you. My mother’s life was my example. I watched her and followed her example ~ how she worked, how she lived. Along the way, I abandoned self-care; it just was NEVER CONSIDERED A PRIORITY, so it was the first to go when things got hectic.

Now, I think to myself, though, AM I SETTING THE RIGHT EXAMPLE FOR MY KIDS? Do I want my children NOT to practice self-care when they grow up? And to be honest, would the lives of my children be any worse if I practiced self care?

But I didn’t understand this back then. As years passed, stress and exhaustion only kept growing, and I started having backaches that would tie me to bed for days at a time. Then I said to myself: if I don’t take time to myself, then my body will force me to! So I revisited the issue of self care and work life balance, and started scheduling spa times, girlfriend times, and alone me times. And these self-care moments felt good, but they weren’t very effective. I would go to a spa, come back home feeling relaxed, but within less than an hour, my stress level would be right back where it was before I left the house. As if an hour in the spa has never happened. 

It took me a few more years to realize that practicing self care is a lifestyle I have at all times, and not isolated life incidents. I mean, eating a light salad occasionally won’t make me a healthy eater if I eat junk food most of the time! So here’s my point:

Self-care is a state of mind. It is how you see your life at all times. You are the boss of your life, so be a good one.

To me, readjusting my life philosophy and rearranging my priorities were groundbreaking for living a quality and enjoyable life.

5 Key Components of Self-Care

1. Get rid of guilt, and be confident about prioritizing self-care. Breathing exercises and meditation are great tools for this. Two years of therapy gave me the great jump start.

2. Create partnerships. Feeling confident about delegating and sharing responsibility with my husband and my kids.

3. Cut down your to-do list. Sometimes I take on things that no one else agrees to do. And to be honest, sometimes I take on things just because I can! But going back to my first point, I can do a lot of things and so can others, and learning to resect my time an energy is important to my sanity.

4. Shedding doubts and negativity. Doubt and negativity are absolutely draining, and noticing when they enter your thoughts is the first step to gaining power over them. The life of a parent, especially if your child or children are on the spectrum, is an emotional rollercoaster. Some days they progress and some days it’s like they are going backward, and I’ve found giving powers to doubts and negativity is destructive.

5. Incorporating things you enjoy into your lifestyle. Make them habits. On Friday nights I spend time with my girlfriend(s). Saturdays I usually spend doing something creative, whether it is taking and editing photos or baking or taking a walk by the beach… On Sunday mornings I do a face-mask and unwind. Throughout a week I enjoy tasty dinners (we started ordering Blue Apron, and enjoy their dinners very much!), and I love my daily chats with kids about life and stuff.

All these components may seem reasonable and obvious but not easy to implement. They involve not only working on and changing firmly instilled habits, but also changing others’ firmly instilled habits. But living beautifully is your right, and if it takes years and hard work to implement, it is worth it. 

♡ Zuma Ayriyan

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