It’s Ok to Take Time for Yourself
In this episode of the podcast, I want to remind you, homeschooling parent, that it’s OK to take time for yourself!
Recently, I’ve been thrown back into full-on caregiving mode because my husband, Brian, had foot surgery and is resting and healing at home. It’s going well, but it’s definitely not easy!
Taking care of all the daily tasks, plus trying to stay grounded and keep anxiety from creeping up, even without knowing what to expect from day to day. On top of that, focusing on eating healthy food and getting good rest. And then there’s taking care of myself so I can get up the next day and do it all again! Phew, it’s a lot!
If you’re like me, that last bit often falls to the wayside. That bit about taking care of myself…
So here’s what I want to share with you: It’s ok AND absolutely necessary to take time for yourself!
Chronic Stress Takes Its Toll
Deep down, we all know it….but often ignore it.
Chronic stress can affect our health.
There’s so much research these days about this. One area of research that I find fascinating is about something called telomeres. These are little protective endings on our DNA strands. These tiny structures protect our chromosomes from getting frayed and tangled. And as we age, they get shorter and shorter and leave our bodies less and less protected from illness.
But it turns out we can also do things to keep our telomeres from shortening so quickly, or even help them to grow.
And what are those things, you might ask? Well, they’re very similar to the self-care practices we all long for and even aim for: eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, and reducing stress in our lives.
I’m going to say it out loud: Homeschooling can be stressful. And it’s ok to take time for yourself!
Roadblocks to Self-Care
I think most of us have some roadblocks to taking care of ourselves.
We have a natural instinct to take care of our young. And at the same time, caregivers can easily over-give, and there is a cost to doing this. The cost of over-giving to others is stress, which affects our health.
I know for me, I just ignored the stress for so long and wasn’t always honest with myself about it because I felt guilty. I also had a hard time asking for help and didn’t really have any tools for dealing with stress on a day to day basis.
If you find yourself feeling guilty too, I hope these ideas can help you shine the light on WHY you’re avoiding taking time for yourself. I also want you to know this is ok, it’s normal. All caregivers experience this!
Get Honest with Yourself
Let’s start here. How can we get really honest with ourselves? I recently learned a new technique that I think can really help. The starting point is naming our feelings.
The idea is that when you feel overwhelmed, remember RAIN ~ R-A-I-N.
Let the RAIN wash away your stress and anxiety.
This comes from a meditation by Tara Brach on my favorite meditation app called Insight Timer.
In the meditation, Brach guides listeners through a meditation practice called RAIN which is an acronym for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture. RAIN is super handy for tackling difficult emotions. Whether it’s anger, anxiety, fear, shame, or stress, RAIN can help release the grip that emotion has on you so you can move forward.
The idea is to recognize what you’re feeling, allow it without judgment, investigate why you feel that way, and nurture yourself with self-compassion.
I find this super helpful to allow the stress or intense emotions to be there while not letting them take over. To get a little distance from the overwhelming feelings, while recognizing them and loving yourself no matter what. Here’s a great image to help you picture this process.
Ask for Help
I know for me, I’ve never been good at asking for help. I felt like since I chose to homeschool, I had to do it all, by myself. But when I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and help became a necessity, I realized it was actually more fun to collaborate with others, for example, homeschooling in a co-op we formed with just a few families. Because good care for each and ever family member ~ care for ALL family members ~ equates to good care for our children. As I often say, homeschooling has to work for everyone including us in order for it to be sustainable over time.
Recognize that Self-Care is Not Selfish
Another roadblock to self-care for me ~ and perhaps this is true for you too ~ was I felt like it was selfish to take time for myself. I recently saw a post from a life coach I follow on Instagram, Kara Lowentheil. In her post, Kara says that one of the worst things you can call a woman is “selfish.” It’s quite an insult. Because we are socialized to be self-LESS. We are taught to do what other people want. And as parents and homeschoolers, we often put our children and our family first – we consider them and their needs before even considering our own.
Here’s a link to Kara’s post @karalowentheil.
I want to give you permission to prioritize your self-care. Taking time for yourself is not selfish. It’s actually necessary for our health and well-being. It’s not only ok, it’s imperative.
Need some convincing? Perhaps you too have that voice telling you that you’re selfish when you take time for yourself. Let’s change that inner dialogue. Here’s something you might try…Whenever you find yourself thinking “I can’t take time for myself, that’s selfish,” I invite to change that thought to one of two options:
- Just remind yourself that “self-care is not selfish, it’s necessary for all caregivers.”
- Tell yourself “It’s GOOD to be selfish!“
Choose the one that works for you. Remember, Put on your oxygen mask first. The best way to take good care of others is to take care of yourself first. It’s actually selfish to NOT take care of yourself because then someone else will have to.
My Three Favorite Self-Care Practices
Here are some super simple practices that you can do on the daily.
Remember to pair them with being honest with yourself about how you’re doing and also with changing your mindset around the importance of self-care.
- Go outside. I love going for a walk alone. Sometimes even without listening to anything at all! No earbuds, just me out walking.
- Connect with friends. Call a friend for a chat, meet at a coffee shop, or go for a walk together.
- Schedule in time for fun. If you have an opportunity to do something you love, do it! Actually right now, you could go put some fun on your calendar.
Want some more ideas? You’ll love this printable list to remind you!
These ideas come from a Bonus for Gathering the Light, a wonderful 5-day guided self-care experience held every January within the Inspired at Home community. We’d love to have you join us ~ January 23-27 ~ as we renew ourselves for the new year.
Each day, we have nourishing practices, poetry, personal reflection, and replenishment all around a theme for the day (Head, Heart, Hands, Health, Home). Think of this as a guided self-care / new year intention retreat!
To join in for Gathering the Light, simply join the Inspired at Home community. This is a monthly membership but you can cancel whenever you choose. You’re more than welcome to join in just for just this one masterclass.
Let’s make time for self-care so we can shine more brightly. ⭐
Together, we can change the narrative on self-care, starting with our own mindsets and daily practices. You can thrive while homeschooling!
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