Tag Archives: self-love

Two basic ways to take care of yourself

My family is going through a challenging season with our kids’ mental health. Between doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, meetings at the school, researching, and writing countless emails, I am TIRED. While tired I still love, support (e.g. help with homework, listen to the social adventures of 3rd and 4th grade, answer questions about the universe, etc.), and snuggle my kiddos who are feeling their challenges first-hand; motherhood knocks me from tired into exhaustion.

One thing my friends and family keep saying is: “Take care of yourself.” I confess when I hear that I do an internal eye roll. In what time-space continuum do I have the opportunity to take care of myself? What does that even mean on a practical level?

However, once I set my bad attitude aside I remember there are two basic ways to take care of myself, both of which make up the foundation of self-love: eating and sleeping. In doing these two things for myself first, I can then take care of my people so much better.

Same for you, my dears. Eating and sleeping are human things, not just Leanne things. If you can’t find any other way to love on yourself, then at the very least consider doing these two things.

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Eating

The most fundamental way to love yourself is to eat! And I don’t mean eating according to a diet, cleanse, or perceived “good” or “healthy” way. Diets, cleanses and rigid eating are all forms of restricting nutrients that feed you. If you’re restricting then you aren’t feeding your body, you’re controlling it. And control in any relationship, especially with your body, is not love. 

Listen to hunger cues and ask yourself what sounds good. Don’t question or judge what your body says. If your body is asking for something you (or culture) have deemed “unhealthy” or “bad,” I encourage you to throw that judgement out the window and eat the food. Body love trumps cultural rules.

When the challenges of life are pulling your body into fatigue, stress, or worry, eating becomes imperative for brain function so you can think critically and make appropriate decisions in whatever you’re dealing with. Hard times are demanding on the body; love your body–take care of yourself–by eating. Not restricting or starving.

This is not to be confused with eating to cope with your feelings. Eating as a way to avoid hard feelings is just as unloving as starving your body. Feel your feelings. Listen to your body; eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.

Sleeping

One of the most annoying experiences is to be exhausted yet not be able to sleep. When you’re anxious or worried or angry, sleep can be elusive, but it’s the best and most loving way to calm down. Sleep also restores energy and keeps your body cues accurate (which is important for eating!). In fact, if you’ve ever labeled yourself a “sugar addict,” I’d encourage you to take an honest look at your sleep habits. If you aren’t sleeping well then your body lacks energy. The body’s natural biological response to low energy is to ask you for fuel that has quick, efficient energy. The most efficient form of energy is sugar. Tada! Be nice to yourself. You aren’t a sugar addict; you’re probably tired.

It’s also important to understand that your body can be fatigued without you noticing or feeling tired. Anxiety has a way of tricking you into thinking you have energy, and thus getting plenty of sleep. This is called an inaccurate body cue.

So how do you know if you need a nap or need food? This can be tricky and you have to tune in to your body to learn the difference. Sometimes you might need both. It’s going to be different for everyone, but a couple of clues might be:

~If you’re not eating much and find yourself thriving on a mere four hours of sleep. This could be a clue that you’re running on anxiety. You’ll need both good nutrition (which will help you sleep) and sleep (which will help reset your body cues).

~If you’re constantly feeding your body yet always feel tired. This is a good clue that you might need more/better sleep.

~ You’ve slept great but have low energy OR you’re extremely tired and calm yet can’t sleep. This could be a clue you need more nutrition. Your body will not sleep or sleep well if it’s hungry.

One last note about sleep. Good sleep hygiene is part of loving your body. This means doing simple things that prepare your body for good sleep like:

~ Meditation to calm the mind and body. (Click here for my favorite bedtime practice.)
~ A hot shower to rinse off the day, soothe tense muscles, and calm your nervous system.
~ Massaging lotion into your feet and toes as an act of gratitude for holding you up all day.
~ Deep breathing to relax shoulders, gut, and butt (common areas that hold stress).

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Take care of yourself. If those four words cause you irritation or panic because you don’t know what that means or you think you don’t have time, remember the two basics: eating and sleeping. Start there. Listen to your body and honor what it needs.

 

 

What does self-love look like?

Self-love does not look like self-centeredness. These are two very different things, and I am learning how to do one without feeling like I am being the other. The last couple of weeks have been stressful in our household, to the point where I haven’t been sleeping through the night for nearly two weeks. The less I sleep, the harder it is to do life well, especially when it’s stressful. I realized that in order for me to cope the stress and maybe even sleep better, I needed to take care of myself. Self-care is self-love.

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I was starting to feel sick. Normally when I start feeling ill, I simply state “I don’t feel good” and keep moving full speed ahead until the sickness bullies me onto the couch and holds me there in a death-grip for several days. This time, I decided to let myself take it easy before I was actually fully sick. I didn’t go to Taekwondo class; I didn’t clean the house; I made super easy dinners with no side items; I watched movies with my kids on school nights; and I laid down for an hour or more. A lot. For two days, I let myself rest how I felt like it and by the weekend, I was feeling great. Sickness never hit.

Resting when we’re not feeling well, even though we aren’t technically sick= self-love.

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My daughter, Haley, and I went to Taekwondo class on Saturday morning. When we got home I said, “Hey, let’s go wash our feet.” I filled the tub with warm water and mixed in some Epsom salts and lavender essential oil. We sat together on the edge of the tub with our feet soaking; we both let out a satisfied sigh. Haley said, “Ahh. My feet feel like they are melting. Feels so good.” We talked about how much we demand of our feet–we shove them into shoes; wrinkle our noses at them; we walk, jump, run, kick, bend, tromp on them. Oh my, how much we stand on our two feet. They work so hard to hold us up all the time! What a treat to show some love to the two things that keep us moving forward in our life.

Gently tending to the body parts we ignore, don’t notice, or don’t like= self-love.

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I was watching the Taekwondo black belt class train the other day while waiting for my class to start. A fellow teammate approached me and said, “That’s going to be you soon! You’re testing in April right? Then you’ll get to go to the black belt classes.” I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know. Yes, I am testing in April, but I don’t know yet if I will continue on.” He looked at me with furrowed brows and wide eyes. “What? You aren’t going to quit are you?” I explained that my knee and hip have been swelling up and experiencing severe pain since I moved into level 4. I’ve been working with my sports medicine doctor to prepare for and endure my black belt test without injury.  “I’m not sure Taekwondo is the right sport for me long term,”  I said. He shrugged, “Yeah. We all have hip and knee problems, though.” I looked at him in the eyes and replied, “I love Taekwondo, but I have to be kind to my body.”

Quitting a sport that’s hurting your body= self-love.

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Self-love looks like taking care of yourself–body, mind and heart. I think it starts with taking care of our physical bodies, though. And I don’t mean diet and exercise. I mean listening, noticing, and understanding what our bodies are asking for. Self-care feels counter-cultural; culture says it’s not okay to quit because then you’re giving up on yourself; it’s not okay to rest if you aren’t “really sick” because people are depending on you; it’s not okay to spend time acquainting yourself with your body parts (and maybe even loving them as is) because it’s weird and self-centered. I disagree with culture.

This week, pick one part of your body that you typically ignore or maybe even don’t like–then tend to it. You don’t have to fall in love with the body part, but I want to find a way to love on it– you can say something  nice to it in the mirror, or get really into it and find a way to physically show care and compassion to it. There are no rules… tend to yourself however it feels right for you.

Much love! <3

What is self-love?

I am a hypocrite. In last week’s post I said the following:

Exercising compassion and love and grace for yourself is far more effective in achieving the body-love you want.

I meant what I said and still advocate for my point. However, the next day I sat in my therapy session in tears struggling to articulate how I could show grace and compassion to myself. How can I possibly invite you to engage grace and compassion (both elements of self-love) for yourself if I don’t do it in my own life. *sigh*

I’m sorry.

We’ve got to do this together, okay? I am going wrestle with it in this space and you can ponder for yourself as I’m breaking it all down.

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First I have to figure out what these words truly mean; I often use them instinctively and purposely without connecting to my understanding of what they mean. In other words, I know what the words mean, but do I truly understand them and their differences when put into action? I don’t think so.

Grace: both a regard and act of undeserved favor; kindness, courtesy, clemency, protection, provision even though undeserved.

Compassion: “suffering with”; feeling the emotions of another (as in empathy) but with a desire to help.

Mercy: withholding harm or punishment (even though you have power or merit to cause harm or punishment). I threw in mercy because I need to understand how grace is the same or different than mercy.

I’ve had no mercy with my body–starving it, insulting it, punishing it, depriving it, abusing it, controlling it.  I’ve thrown ungracious insults at myself, labeling me as lame, ugly, fat, impatient, lazy, stupid, nerdy, dorky, slow, uncreative, undependable, unworthy, a bad friend, a bad mom, a bad wife… In all of this there is no room for compassion–the desire to actively show love to myself.

Are you with me still? Have you ever labeled yourself any of these things?

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When I view from the outside how I’ve treated myself … as if I were to see someone treat another person the same way I treat myself, I would consider it abhorrent. I would also be (and have been) devastated seeing someone treating themselves in the same manner.

Ugh. Now the understanding is sinking in. And it’s really uncomfortable.

Okay, just like I’d want to step in and help someone who’s hurting because I feel their pain as I try to imagine how they might be feeling, then I need to feel the same for myself. Weird, but true.

I don’t have the power to do this on my own. So often the world–everything from subtle (and repeated) messages in the media, to underlying implications or expectations in Christian culture, to body language from acquaintances, to direct words or actions from colleagues, family and friends (often unknowingly), feeds the abhorrent lies and subsequent behaviors I place upon myself.

However, I remember that I am in this world, but not of the world. I belong to God. Never does He view me as the world or the people in this world view me, or how I view myself for that matter.  When I am a mess, God shows me grace, compassion, mercy and Love–usually through seemingly random happenings that leave me going “Whoa. That was a God thing.” So how do I show myself the same Love God shows me?

    1. I stay connected to Him. He reminds me that I am not “a bad” anything. Imperfect? Absolutely and beautifully, yes. But not bad.
    2. I acknowledge my emotions rather than judge them. If I am mad, sad, joyful, scared, goofy… then okay. No need to avoid, hide, chastise, justify or be ashamed of how I feel. I can just be in the feels.
    3. I rest. For me, resting involves clearing the calendar (maybe for the day, maybe for the month) and avoiding social media so I can eliminate both real and perceived expectations of what, who, and how I am “supposed” to be to the outside world.
    4. I figure out what I want or need and do it. Sometimes I just want to lie down; paint my nails with my daughter; experiment with new recipes in the kitchen; watch cat videos online; write a blog post; sit on the couch holding my husband’s hand; cry; pray; eat a cupcake; read my book; play Wii; have coffee with a friend… whatever it is. I connect with myself and oblige what I need with zero judgement, justification, or expectation to either “deserve” it or punish myself later for having done it (also known as “making up for it later”).

Self-love is fluid movement of grace, compassion, and mercy working together that derives and thrives from a deep understanding of yourself–of who you are are what you need–with zero judgement. Body-love is rooted in self-love. So my message last week still stands only this week it stands firmer!

How do you or could you show self-love in your own life, friends? I’d love to know in your comments.