Today I want to talk with you about going through difficult times & how we can take care of ourselves even in those tough life seasons (because let’s be real… we all have them).
I think self-care (aka how we take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, & mentally) is one of the most important skills we can develop. It is the root of true health! I love to chat with women about self-care & I love to coach women to learn to take incredible care of themselves… physically + beyond!
But, I want to clarify something I believe so deeply: practicing self-care doesn’t mean that everything goes perfectly, that we are always super happy, or that we feel our absolute best. Instead, I believe it means that we develop a deep appreciation for loving ourselves & nurturing ourselves moment to moment, whether the moments are full of pain, joy or something in between.
Something that too often gets glossed over is how to practice self-care during a difficult time. We need self-care on all days, not just the great ones. In fact, I would argue that a true self-care practice is applicable to all seasons in life & that is what makes it so valuable! It’s great to practice it on the easy days to build up our “self-care muscles,” but it’s important to flex those muscles when times get tough, too.
I want to be really candid with you for a sec. For me, the last 9+ months have been some of the most challenging of my entire life. From very early on in my pregnancy I have felt incredibly sick. I have been nauseas constantly (still today, at almost 39 weeks). I’ve spent so many days laying on my bathroom floor, getting sick, & praying for some relief. I’ve counted down days, weeks, & months until I would feel better, but so far the day hasn’t come. I felt (& at times still feel) incredibly isolated, trapped, & discouraged. I miss the super energetic version of myself. I miss being able to REALLY enjoy food. I miss WANTING to be social. I miss feeling at home in my body.
We are HUMAN and we are allowed to have tough experiences & seasons.
As I come toward the end of my pregnancy, I really want to share with you all the ways that I have been practicing self-care during this tough time. Whether you’re pregnant or not, I hope that some of these resonate with you & help you to take excellent care of yourself during life’s more difficult seasons (because you truly deserve it):
- Be honest
In the beginning, this was REALLY hard for me. I wanted to pretend like everything was fine but soon realized that pushing down my feelings of loneliness, sadness, & general unwell-ness was only making it harder for me to process the experience. So I got real with myself & the people who I trust the most. Sometimes this just meant that I would share with Tim at the end of the day that being so sick made me feel alone & I could really use a hug while I cried.
It is so important to be honest with ourselves & others about how we’re feeling, what we’re going through, & our true experiences. This doesn’t mean you have to share your life’s struggles with every stranger on the street, but it does require you to be real about what is coming up for you. Give your feelings a name & allow yourself permission to feel whatever it might be (even if they aren’t the “prettiest” feelings). Confide in someone or a few people who you trust about what you’re going through & if you need to seek professional support know that you are not weak or a failure — sometimes we just need a little extra help! There is no shame in that. It’s important that we feel safe to experience our emotions & a crucial part of taking emotional care of ourselves.
- Set boundaries
As a social person, I found that I needed to set some new boundaries to help take care of myself during this more challenging time. I needed to turn off my phone a little earlier (& even keep it away from my bed), protect more down time for myself, & lessen my use of social media. Even though it wasn’t “typical” for me, I really needed more peaceful/restful time than usual. New boundaries were necessary to make that time happen!
If you are struggling with something, know that it is OK to create new and/or different boundaries then you had in the past. It doesn’t mean you will always have to have those boundaries — after all, the tough times don’t last forever! We are constantly changing, growing, & evolving. Creating new boundaries allows us to protect our hearts, health, & emotions during each new phase.
This was so huge for me. I had to really get clear on what was most important to me during this tough season so that I could focus in on those things… letting the others fall away. For me, it meant that I focused on my private clients, my book proposal, my most cherished relationships, & getting enough rest. It meant that I didn’t create as much new content, launch the new group program that’s been on my heart for some time, or fill every free moment working, socializing, or “building my brand.” By re-prioritizing (again, just for this season!), I had the bandwidth to do the things that were most important to me & I was able to trust that at a (not so distant!) future time I will be able to re-invest in the other things that I needed to release for right now.
When things are more challenging, know that it is OK if your life needs to look a little different then it does on the super “in the flow” days/seasons. We are allowed to have seasons where we strive & we are allowed to have seasons where we survive. Both are important to our character growth & both teach us invaluable lessons when we take the time to connect back to ourselves through self-care.
- Do something each day that helps you feel a little better
While I couldn’t make myself feel 100% “good,” I made it a priority to do little things each day to help myself feel a little better. Some days this was watching an old favorite episode of Dawson’s Creek, some days it was taking a barre class, some days it was a hot shower, & other days it was just diffusing some essential oils while I rested in bed. I focused on the little details of my experience that I could tweak to help me feel more comfortable & cared for.
Wherever you are or whatever you’re experiencing, you can be kind to yourself with your words, thoughts, & actions. Be tender with yourself & do the things (small or large) that help you feel supported. The details of our day can truly shift our experience!
- Release expectations, guilt, & shame
I had so many expectations about pregnancy — none of which have been true for me. Because of this disconnect, I felt a lot of guilt & shame around my pregnancy experience. I felt terribly that I wasn’t a “better” pregnant woman, that I didn’t feel incredible, that I wasn’t glowing. I wanted those things to be my reality & when they weren’t I had to let myself off the hook. When I finally let myself acknowledge that my experience was exactly what it needed to be, I was able to release the guilt & shame of “falling short” I had felt so intensely before.
If something in your life isn’t going the way you imagined it or planned it, please know that it is OK! We can’t control everything in our lives & the sooner we release unrealistic expectations that we place on ourselves & others, the less guilt & shame we will experience when our experience doesn’t necessarily meet those expectations. There is so much freedom in this release.
My wish for you & for me is that we can allow our lives to unfold in their beautiful, messy, unique ways. Sending you so much love.
Regan Walsh says
What a perfectly timed blog…I’ve been struggling big time over the last week or so — mostly around post-pregnancy expectations about my body, and also about the need to re-prioritize work when I don’t really want to…all of this has led me to feel guilt, shame, and all of the yucky feelings we hate to feel. I finally broke down to my husband two nights ago, and to a trusted friend yesterday. Add two glorious walks on sunny days and my mood finally started to neutralize. Sharing what I was feeling and taking time to myself was just what I needed to be a little more kind to myself during this time of transition.
Thanks for sharing your experience. xo.
Simonida Botic says
Thank you so much for sharing, too, Regan! Sending you so much love. You’re doing an INCREDIBLE job.
Thank you so much. Reading this really helped.
I love practicing Yoga whenever I feel down/unhappy/uninspired. 🙂
Sending good thoughts your way!
Simonida Botic says
Ah, you’re so right: yoga feels SO good. You just inspired me to roll out my mat… thank you!
I needed this. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been trying to reset priorities and boundaries and learning to be honest about what I can and cannot do as I recover from depression and burnout. The return to work after a long absence has been difficult and it takes everything I’ve got just to get through work and stay moderately sane. I’ve had to let everything else go for now and adjust my expectations of myself (which were never realistic in any case). Yoga, spending time at the lake, colouring, jewelry making, listening to music and just remembering to breathe are some of the ways I try to take time for myself.
Simonida Botic says
Thank you so much for sharing, Nancy. Sending you lots of love as you navigate your return to work & taking time for yourself in the midst of the transition!