What does self-care actually look like for you? I’ve found that my self-care routine has become a little cliché lately. However, I’ve decided that I want to share it with you anyway! Being pregnant definitely has its ups and downs. I’m super excited about the end result but the journey definitely has its challenges. I always feel incredibly guilty complaining about any of my pregnancy symptoms because I have friends who have it so much worse than I do. I also waited a long time to be pregnant which adds an extra layer of guilt to any complaint I feel welling up inside me. However, I always tell my patients that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to everyone else so I figured I would take some notes out of my own playbook and allow myself to share my feelings. Lately I’ve been doing several things that have been extremely beneficial for my own mental and physical health.

  • I stopped competing with myself.

This might not be an issue for you, but it’s something I struggle with on a regular basis. If I am not able to do something to the best of my ability, I quit shortly after getting started. Exercise has been a prime example of this in my life. Since getting pregnant I haven’t had my usual stamina, so I just wouldn’t exercise. However, ever since the first of the year I started doing a 30 day challenge from a YouTube channel called Yoga with Adriene. This practice has been extremely beneficial because the classes are short and gentle. It encourages me to get on my mat everyday without beating myself up because I can’t currently do a HIIT workout.

  • I wrote out a schedule for myself and started using a planner.

This might not seem like self-care but once again I’ve learned some things that help me cope with stress. As a type A personality, I would never give myself credit for successfully completing a to do list. I would finish my list and then add more things to it. This led to a sense of always feeling like I was never doing enough or that I wasn’t productive enough. I started using a planner to write out a schedule and routine for myself and my family. I use Emily Ley’s simplified planner for family/ mom related tasks, and I use the Full Focus Planner for my work. Using both of these tools I mapped out a weekly routine to help me keep up with my responsibilities in a way that keeps me encouraged but not overwhelmed. Celebrating what I accomplish in a day has been a huge victory for my mental health.

  • I started using a red light while relaxing in the bath tub three times a week.

I normally really struggle in the winter with a low mood and increased fatigue. This is the first winter in a while where I haven’t struggled as much with depression. I think using a light has been a game changer. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read a ton of the research surrounding red light therapy. From what I’ve read we know it has benefits for skin healing as well as reducing inflammation. I need to do further research to determine the benefits it has on mood. However, it has made a big difference for me personally. I found a company that made the purchase affordable. I’ll share more as I have time to do more research. I also add magnesium salts to my bath which I think has been helpful as well.

  • I have worked with a spiritual director to identify and change some of my negative thought patterns.

Prior to taking seminary classes, I had never even heard of a spiritual director. However, working with a spiritual director has helped me identify some of the unhealthy beliefs that I was still carrying around. Our worldview can have a profound impact on our mood. I think it’s vital to work with someone you trust to identify the unconscious beliefs you are carrying around. I have found that these beliefs are often buried slightly out of the view but can still cause problems in our daily lives. I now have a better understanding of how God sees me and my husband. It has been a time of great healing and growth.

              Often when we talk about self-care, women will make excuses like, “I don’t’ have time.” Or “I can’t.” I refuse to accept that narrative. It’s not a luxury to take care of yourself. It is your personal responsibility. No one benefits when we continue to live our lives in a state of depletion. Self-care doesn’t have to mean spending a day at the spa. However, if that is what fuels you and helps you feel rested then I would argue it’s worth the investment! For me at the start of a new month I will take out my calendar and schedule three appointments for myself. One to take care of my mental health, another to have a date night with my husband, and a third appointment for physical relaxation. This typically involves an appointment with my counselor or spiritual director, hiring a babysitter, and scheduling a massage or appointment with the float pod. If you don’t make time to care for yourself, it will always get put on the back burner. My challenge for you today is to schedule one appointment to take care of yourself! You are worthy of love and care. My dear friends, I pray you will stop hiding in the shadows. The world deserves to see you at your best!

If you need some ideas of how to get started, email me at info@shelbyleppin.com. I’d love to connect with you!