Tuesday, January 13, 2015

taking care of yourself...

To start off the new year, we had a guest speaker at our First Friday for Moms group and she talked to us about taking care of yourself.  I asked Carole, our Women's Ministry Director, to come talk to the group because she is a Registered Dietician and mom of four kids.  Carole doesn't have a special needs child but totally understands how important it is for busy moms to focus on themselves.  Her talk was interactive and really got all of us thinking. 

We started off by answering the question: What does it look like to take care of yourself?  This lead to a great discussion.  Our list included:

Pausing during the day
Reading the bible or connecting with God in some way
Spending time with friends
Dating our husband

Carole then asked us to list the benefits of taking care of ourselves. 

Less stress
Feel better and don't get sick as often
We feel connected and less isolated
Decrease in depression
More positive outlook on days
Increased well being
Happier in our relationships (including our marriages)
Weight loss

After that discussion, Carole asked us 'Then why don't we take better care of ourselves?'  Our discussion was very vocal and our list was extensive.  We're...

Going to doctor's appointments and therapy sessions for our kids
We have meetings to schedule and attend for our kids
We have IEP's to survive
Too tired
Setting our goals too high
Feeling overwhelmed
Have no time left after caring for our kids, husband and house

The group then discussed, 'What would have to change in your life in order for you to take better care of yourself?'.  This question evoked a lot of discussion from all the moms.  Here are the top five that we came up with and they're all pretty self explanatory...

1. Better time managment
2. Switch up activities or priorities
3. Delegate tasks, chores or work to others (ask for help so you have free time)
4. Set new standards for ourselves
5. Make a decision that YOU are important

Carole encouraged us to focus on three main areas of our lives and look for small ways we could make changes that would improve the way we take care of ourselves.  We then brainstormed some ways:

1. Nutrition or Eating
- meal planning
- increase veggies
- be mindful of what and when we are eating
- increase water consumption (and decrease sugar ladened drinks)

2. Exercise
- put it on your calendar, like you do meetings
- invest in equipment for your home if going to the gym isn't possible
- walk more - park far away from the store
- get your family involved by taking family walks
- do it with a friend so you are more likely to be committed
- keep your sneakers in the car
- just do it, something is better than nothing!

3. Mental or Spiritual
- read your bible or a positive mental attitude book
- join a bible study
- take a break or pause during the day to refresh your mind and outlook
- go out with friends at night (GNO)
- schedule weekly alone time
- join a group like FFFM and connect with other moms
- date nights with your husband

Our discussion was so active, we ran over our  time limit.  I'm so thankful that Carole came to speak to our group and moderated this discussion.  We also handed out this blog post by Gillian Marchenko, I love her blog.  She is a great writer and her posts are full of grace and truth.

Taking care of ourselves isn't limited to just moms of special needs kids, it isn't limited to just moms, it's necessary for all of us to feel and operate at our best, most optimal level.  So I encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about how you are doing focusing on your needs.  Ask yourself the questions posed to us by Carole.

What does it look like to take care of yourself?

What is standing in the way of taking care of yourself?

What would have to change in your life in order for you to take better care of yourself?

Next, evaluate how you are doing in terms of your nutrition, exercise and mental/spiritual health.   Then, decide what you will change in each of those three areas.  Keeping in mind that small sustainable change are the best. You can easily accomplish this in about 10-15 minutes. 

Once you have this written down, make a commitment that you are important enough to invest your time and energy.  I guarantee you at the end of the year, will not be sorry you ate better, exercised and took some time to improve your mental health or spiritual relationship with God.  Focus on yourself, you matter.


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