Journey to Joy: Importance of Self-Care

refill your own cup

refill your own cup

This is for the momma or anyone else who has ever felt burned out with life. Resentful. Overwhelmed. Bitter towards her blessings. Wondering what you are doing wrong? Where’s the joy? I don’t have all the answers for you, or for myself, but God has been revealing pieces in my own life that may help shed light on your life. This past January I claimed 2013 as the year of joy. I desired more joy in my blessings and that’s exactly the journey God has been taking me on: the journey to joy. It coincides with my journey to embracing grace, naturally 🙂

Around 6 months after Ashlyn’s birth, something resembling postpartum depression appeared. It felt much like I did after Jason’s birth and I recognized the familiar overwhelming feelings. I was very overwhelmed by life and all the duties that fall on my shoulders, I couldn’t keep up with house work. I felt like a horrible mom who couldn’t make the effort to engage with her kids or one who yelled too much. I was sleep deprived, having a baby who slept awesome the first 3 months of life and then decided to change her habits, reverting to normal newborn wake ups. I was unpredictable in mood. Since it was a familiar feeling, I knew to pull out my placenta tincture to help balance hormones. As I sipped my coffee with placenta tincture I often looked deep inwardly to uncover why I was feeling this way when the previous months had been more peaceful and joyful. Besides the obvious sleep deprivation, I realized that I had let myself slide. I felt stuck in the role of “just mom” and did not fill myself up anymore.  I had stopped doing what I love, what makes me me.  I had stopped reading books, I had stopped writing, I didn’t have my girls night outs that I used to have one a week, I didn’t have a small group to dig into scripture and share each others burdens. I was a mom drowning in what I desperately wanted to love, but couldn’t without some air. I also realized that God had dug up a lot of stinky trash in my heart from my past that He wanted me to throw out and it was affecting my mood. Plus hormones, man, those hormones can make every little thing feel magnified!

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19

I’ve seen many counselors throughout my life for many reasons. I’m not ashamed to say that because I know how valuable it is to have that outside perspective to help understand and change your own perspective to heal.  I knew this dark time was one of those times I needed it, and I still do. Do you know the first suggestion she made?  Take care of yourself. Drink enough water, exercise to boost your oxytocin happy hormones, and eat well. Our bodies are a temple of God, it’s holy. Treat it like it is. Do things you love!  Even just one thing a week makes a huge difference, whether it’s taking the time to read a book or buying yourself a chocolate treat simply because.  God has been teaching me this for months, it’s a process for me.  Some days I forget to even drink a cup of water until noon because I’m so busy meeting kids needs or house duties! No wonder I have kidney stones.  If I don’t fill myself up literally, emotionally, and spiritually than I cannot effectively serve others (mainly, my kids at this point in life). I’m sure you’ve heard the airplane oxygen mask analogy before, giving yourself air first so that you can help someone else. The same is true in life.

Obviously, this isn’t an excuse to be selfish. There is a balance here. “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Galatians 5:14   I believe that God has ingrained us with the need to care for ourselves, to protect and respect ourselves for His glory and to best serve Him. The issue is when that’s all we think of and we love ourselves more than others. However, if you are like me and feeling bitter because you don’t have time to just be you anymore…I’d say you aren’t being selfish in this area (maybe in other areas, sure. I know I am). If we don’t meet our own needs, how can we effectively love on others?

We want our kids to love themselves for who God made them, right? What a gift to be an example to our children that taking care of yourself is loving yourself.  I notice a difference in my mood when I take time for me, I’m more joyful and more confident in myself as a person and a mom. The Truth is easier to remember and cling to when I’m filled up. What does it for me is getting out to meet girl friends, doing some sewing, reading a real book, or working on my writing, or making time to mediate on God’s word. Some times it’s a simple as treating myself to Starbucks or painting my nails. We all need to breathe and a time to step out side the Mom zone.  And like they say, when momma is happy, everyone is happy! As moms, our tone and responses often set the tone for the whole house.

So what do you love to do? Do it!  Make it a priority. Challenge yourself to do one thing this week just for you and share in the comments what it was. You’re worth it, you work hard. I’m preaching to myself here, too!  If you’re a fan on Facebook, I’ll be doing a weekly challenge to encourage us. Will you join me?

self-care challenge

7 Comment

  1. Sarah Drummond says: Reply

    I so so so needed to read this today. I too have a baby that began to sleep awful after 3 months and I also have stopped doing all the things I love. I would like to challenge myself to go swim laps for an hour every week. It may not be the daily routine I used to have but it would help. Thank you so much for this post Leah, I sit here at my wits end with an unsettled baby in my arms, no sleep for months wondering what it is I’m doing wrong! I will be getting out my placenta tincture today too & will heed your words! I hope you find the balance you need. You are a great mama.

    1. Leah Leah says: Reply

      Sarah, I’m glad it spoke to you! Know that you are not alone, I’m so sleep deprived right here with you (or…across the globe…) and being a momma, whether you have 1 or 3, is hard work. It is so easy with an infant to wrap your world completely around them, especially the first 6 months when they are so new to this world and you literally have to do everything for them. I hope you make swimming once a week a priority, sounds like it would be beneficial in many ways!

  2. I am a friend of Sarah’s and I am feeling the exact same way. I found this post through Sarah sharing it on Facebook. I want to thank you for making me feel normal, and helping me to realise that longing for some time to myself does not make me a selfish and unloving mother. I am parenting alone and have a sick family so time to myself is very rare. It is dragging me down and I have often wondered if I am suffering from depression. I try to tell myself that I’m not that bad and there must be others out there who are far worse off than I am. I want to paint again. I want to swim and read, and take care of my body. inside and out. I am going to challenge myself to go for a walk by myself through the park once a week. I didn’t take the time to research the benefits of holding on to your placenta while I was pregnant – I guess I was too naiive at the time.
    I hope you are taking care of yourself, and I hope you are happy. Thankyou for your post <3

    1. Leah Leah says: Reply

      Thank you for your honesty and sharing. I assure you, you are not alone! A few months ago I was in a depressed state much like you described until I started making these changes for myself. I was crying daily, even wishing I was in Heaven so that I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed and like I was screwing up my kids. THAT is what scared me the most to seek counseling and make changes. I am sure it is even harder to make time for yourself as the only parent at home, but I am betting it will make a big difference when you can. Enjoy your walk and fresh air!

  3. Autumn Jones says: Reply

    I really needed to read this. I was literally sitting here crying and telling Matt, “I just want to be happy!” And I know it’s because I’m so stuck in the role of being mom and making sure everyone else is taken care of and not wanting to be selfish, that I’ve totally stopped caring about me. I can’t even buy myself anything without feeling guilty. Thank you for sharing! And it’s great to know I’m not alone in my struggle!

    1. Leah Leah says: Reply

      Oh girl, I feel your pain! You are definitely not alone. I have that same guilt, even with things I know I need. I pray God leads you to something that will fill YOU up again, for yourself and for your family. If you ever want to grab a coffee one night to breathe fresh air, let me know!

  4. Standing ovation! Loved every bit of this! We cannot help others if we are broken. When we ride an airplane, the flight attendants say to put your own oxygen mask on BEFORE we help our family with theirs. Because if we are unconscious, we can’t help them! It’s not selfish to want to be stronger for our family… or even for our selves. Well written!

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