Stop and smell the orange blossoms

Not too long ago I heard the term, “Self Care,” and wondered if it didn’t sound a lot like “All about me.” Like most of us, it’s been engrained into my very nature to always put others ahead of myself, never think selfishly, never act or be self-centered. So, when I heard someone mention “self care,” it sent mixed signals—until I listened further and learned a bit more.

I started processing the whole concept and actually found it to be scripturally based (Go figure!). In red letters we are told to love others as we love ourselves. There’s the ticket! How can we possibly give the proper attention and care to those who love us or those who need us if we do not give proper attention and care to ourselves, whether it is our mental, emotional, spiritual or physical wellbeing? For far too long I convinced myself I was undeserving of “me” time, or that I neither had the time or money to waste on “me.” The older I get, the more I realize how important it is now, and should have been in the past (So, if you’re younger, take a tip here!).

Here are some suggestions for better self care. I encourage anyone and everyone who might have other ideas to please share them here. We could all benefit from each other’s input!

  1. Pamper yourself. Go have a manicure or pedicure—or both! How about a massage?
  2. Random acts of kindness, anyone? Nothing makes me feel better than doing something nice for someone, when it’s totally unexpected. Watch for coupons offering a buy one-get one massage or pedicure and take a friend (or spouse) with you. Do you subscribe to really great magazines? I am forever getting inserts that offer a free subscription if I extend my current one, so why not send a year’s worth to a friend or family member?
  3. We all know about eating better, exercising more, doo-dah, doo-dah, so those are a given. But ladies—do NOT forget to have your mammies grammed! Be sure to remember self EXAMS, as part of your overall self CARE. And get those pap tests when they are due.
  4. Do not forget to breathe. As simple as that sounds, it is very important. Sometimes we just need to inhale deeply and exhale slowly. As you release the breath, be sure to release the stress and busyness that’s scurrying around in your head.
  5. Get plenty of rest. Even if it means using the weekend to catch up, I’ve actually heard that’s better than not getting enough sleep at all. So, sleep in this Saturday!
  6. Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water, and watch those amped up versions that claim to be chock full of vitamins, minerals and flavor. Check out the calories and sugar content. You may be surprised to see just how much they contain. And take a multi-vitamin (with minerals) every day. Make like Nike, and “just do it.”
  7. Brush your teeth. No kidding, don’t you always feel refreshed when your mouth is minty clean? (I’ve actually been told this is also a handy secret for dieting. I mean, who wants to eat a donut right after swishing your pearly whites with Listerine?)
  8. If you are a spiritual person (or not), take time to pray or meditate. Yes, yoga, stretching exercises and the like are great ideas, but I’m not personally a bendy-stretchy kind of gal. Finding a quiet, still place and praying or meditating does wonders for me. Sometimes I journey off to the restroom at work when stress is about to get the upper hand. And remember, this doesn’t mean you do all the talking. Take time to listen. You may just get the answer to a question you’ve long been asking.
  9. Aromatherapy—it’s an absolute must in my life. I have a couple of small vials of scented oils that have relaxing effects, and I carry them in my purse. If during the day things begin getting hectic or frenzied, I slip off discreetly, put a drop or two into my palms and rub my hands together for a couple of seconds, then lightly touch my clothing. Later, as I catch a whiff of the divine scent, it’s an “aahh” moment. And consider a fresh bouquet of flowers. I’ve actually ordered a bouquet and had it delivered at work. Not only did I feel special for receiving flowers (Who had to know the identity of the sender?), but the sweet fragrance of roses is always so calming.

10.  Bubble bath, anyone? Sometimes I overdo with the chores on Saturdays, trying to catch up on past due cleaning and feel every muscle in my body screaming in protest by the end of the day. That’s when I head for the tub. I light a couple of scented candles, plug in the iPod and hit the playlist specially formed for relaxation. In goes the bubble bath or bath oil (also scented) and I slither into the warm water, lay back and just fade into rest. (Hey, guys, this works for men, too!)

11.  Have some alone time. I hear all you moms with young ones asking, “Is she kidding me?” Well, it is possible. I always adored Erma Bombeck, the consummate mom. In one of her books she shared of times she would leave the kids at home with their dad, hop in the mini-van and drive to the grocery store all by herself. Once inside, she grabbed a grocery cart and took her time traveling up and down each and every aisle. When she reached the last shelf and was up to the registers she would place her empty cart with the others and drive back home. She did share of once trying to find quiet alone time in the bathroom, but all us moms know that’s the first place the kids will come to look for you… “Mom! Are you in there? Mommmmm!” Just remember, where there’s a will there’s a way.

12.  Positive thinking goes a long way. If you are wondering why you should undertake even one of these suggestions, simply remind yourself, “Because I’m WORTH IT!”


Listen to Carolyn’s interview with Cynthia Brennen, on “Help, Hope & Healing.” Visit her website

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