Self Care is Not a Luxury Item

Self Care is notA Luxury

I choose to do some self care by receiving a deep tissue massage today. Now many of you may be thinking “Oh how nice, a spa day. What a nice way to treat yourself.”

I used to believe that massages were something to be indulged in once in a while as a nice, relaxing treat. But after suffering a debilitating bout of muscle spasms in my neck a few years ago I have come to realize a different truth.

Massage for me is a necessary part of taking care of myself.

Because guess what my friends?

Self Care is Not a Luxury Item

I know this can be a hard motto to live by.

As a woman, a mom, and a type A responsible overachiever,  I tend to put others needs before myself.  There is making sure the fridge is full of food that then has to be cooked and served and cleaned up. There is laundry to do and errands to run. There is work and carpool and volunteer responsibilities. There is cleaning up after the dog . . . again.

Who has time to do anything for themselves?

But when I ignore my body’s needs long enough, it starts speaking louder so it can be heard.

Maybe my neck will spasm. Maybe I’ll get a monster sinus infection. Maybe the panic attacks will return.

Someway, somehow, our bodies will let us know they need rest and care.

At some point while waiting in a doctor’s office to heal my body’s latest cry for help, I realized I had two options. I could either continue having semi annual medical issues that ended in me loosing at least a couple weeks of productivity and paying hefty medical fees,

Or I could choose to put in a little time and money on a regular basis to take care of myself. And if I took care of myself well enough, I wouldn’t keep pushing my body to the breaking point.

So I started eating better most of the time. I started exercising a couple times a week. I get monthly massages. I make sure I have a few hours a week where I can come away from my family and work responsibilities and REST.

I am by no means taking perfect care of my middle aged body. But I am trying to do better at self care. And knock on wood, it seems to be helping.

Since making the commitment to self care I have been to the doctor less, been more productive, and had a better overall mood.

There are times when I am tempted to backslide. When I recently looked at our bills for the month and saw how much money I was spending on massages and the gym, much less how much it costs to buy healthy food for 4 people at the grocery store, I was tempted to cut something out.

The Type A momaholic in me said, “Oh, I don’t have to pay for that gym membership and trainer. I can just exercise at home.”

But then I had to remind myself that spending money on self care is not the same as spending 4 bucks on a latte. It is not wasteful spending.

Because even though cutting the gym membership would save time and money, I would still lose out. For in my heart I know I won’t exercise at home without that appointment with the trainer. Instead I would find a million other things to do. And when I have an appointment with a trainer I keep it, because, well, I am a type A overachiever who wants to make my trainer happy.

But putting in a good workout away from home makes my body and mind happy too. So I’ll keep paying that monthly bill knowing the time and energy I spend on taking care of myself is a wise investment.

Because when I care for my body, mind, and spirit I am at my best. And that is a gift I can’t put a price on.

What does your body, mind, and spirit need to be your best?

How can you commit to one act of self care to nurture those needs?

Feel free to share your best tips below!

Be Good to Yourself!




When Healing is Painful

Over the last two months since I started having neck and shoulder problems many kind people have asked how I am doing. Mainly, they wonder if my neck and shoulder are feeling better.

I never really know what to say to this question. In many ways I am much, much better.

But to be honest, some days it still really hurts.

In part this is because my body is still a little injured and some days I get carried away and inflame the injury.

But I also think I am hurting because complete healing often includes pain.

Take my first couple of massages after the injury. First of all, my healing team made me wait a month or so to get a massage saying I wouldn’t be able to handle it right away. I couldn’t understand this at first because I have always loved the relief and relaxation that I got from a massage. But then I finally got my tight muscles worked on post injury. Even though the massage therapist was very gentle and careful not to overwork me, I was quite sore afterward.

I guess it took the gallons of water I drank a day or two to wash away the lactic acid and other toxins those knotted muscles were holding.

In the end the massage was for my good and the pain went away, but for a couple of days the only way to describe me was tender and tentative.

I think it is the same with our emotional life.

Sometimes we get hurt and injured and we tighten up inside. There is a hard place where the trauma occurred. A place that is either scarred or tensed up to protect the vulnerable spot from ever getting hurt again.

If we embark on a journey of complete healing, there will come a time when we have to let go of those knotted up places inside of us.

And when we do release the knots of pain, we are going to release some toxic stuff that will hurt for a while. But the only way for it to get washed away is for us to release it, feel the pain, and then let it be gone for good.

If you really want to know what I feel about all this, it is that our bodies and minds are tied up together more than we could ever understand. Our bodies hold our emotional pain in complex ways.

During our yoga teacher training I began to experience a flare up of anger and irritability. I brought this to my teacher’s attention and he said he wasn’t surprised. He guessed all the yoga had my body releasing some pain I had been holding internally for a while. When I told him I was tempted to cut back on the yoga because I was so tired of being angry all the time, he called me to the carpet.

He asked if I really wanted to spend the rest of my life with anger always lying underneath the surface like some shadow inside of me I couldn’t see, or did I want to do the hard work of clearing it out for good? In the end I kept with the yoga and doubled my time in meditation and prayer to calm my spirit. It helped and afterwards I felt healed in a way that I can only barely explain.

So if you to are in a period of healing that is surprisingly painful, take heart. It will not last forever. You are likely doing deep work of releasing painful toxins, whether they be lactic acid, emotions of grief or some mysterious combination of things we will likely never understand.

I encourage you to gently stay on the road to recovery. Try and breathe and be patient with the pain. And know that with time if you keep releasing and doing the good work of healing it will one day wash completely away.

And then you won’t just be pain free, you will be made truly well.