She sat there. A hard fought battle with her toddler to take a nap lay behind her, she had emerged victorious but exhausted. Toys and a half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich lay around her.
What she should do now was beyond her. The dishes, obviously, but there were also bills to pay and that cute craft she wanted to finish before the little one’s birthday party, picking up the toys and starting dinner were both good options as well. She was also starving and tired – so very tired – if she didn’t get off the couch soon she might just pass out.
She lifted herself up slowly and started to make a cup of coffee as she finished the leftover peanut butter sandwich. An alert on her phone got her scrolling through Facebook, and then she saw it – her old friend who had a baby less than a year ago, posting about how she’s working out every day, and eating healthy and feeling great!
“How the heck does she do it?” she thinks, as she stuffs the last of the sandwich in her mouth and looks down at her leggings and thinks of how flabby she still feels over two years later. “What’s wrong with me? I wish I could workout, I wish I had the energy, but I can barely keep my sanity as it is – how in the world could I add one more thing?”
This story is not fiction. This story is me. This is me before I understood the paradox of self-care. I felt so discouraged by all my fit friends. I rationalized that they just must be the “athletic type” and I totally wasn’t. I tried to figure out how they found the time….their husband must work less, or their mom probably babysat for them all the time, or she could afford the fancy-schmancy gym with childcare. I created this whole story in my head of why it was possible for her and not me.
I was SO tired, and frazzled and overwhelmed and struggling just to get the energy up to clean the toys and dishes each day and not spend the kid’s nap time watching HGTV or sleeping. I wondered if I would ever feel like myself again. I was tired of hiding myself in baggy shirts and crying every time I had to dress for a fancy event or went shopping, because I hated the way I looked.
I honestly don’t know what shook me out of my funk, but one day I was ready to just give it my best shot and see what happens. I started working out – every day, at first it was just pure excitement to be trying something new – and I could do it at home, and it was only 30 minutes and I made it work. And then, a funny thing happened: I started to have more energy. I started to sleep better at night. I started to look forward to those workouts every day. I started to stand up straighter and my clothes started to fit better. I started to become addicted to working out. I started to be THAT girl, posting on Facebook about her salads and workouts.
Here’s the paradox of self-care, in those moments when you feel like you just can’t add one more thing to your life – THOSE are the exact moments when you NEED to add in self-care. Take a walk, exercise, eat something healthy, take a nap or read a good book and pray. The paradox of self-care is that when you add it to your life – all of a sudden you go from feeling like you can’t handle one more thing, to feeling like you can take on the WORLD.