Self-Care: Reading

Wellness Wednesday? Is that a thing? I think I’m making it a thing.

My last self-care post was all about making some changes this year. Changes to my outlook, my energy, my stress levels, etc. I said it was super important to me and now you know why! I’m a humongous planner. I like to be prepared ahead of time and attempt to prevent as many mishaps as possible. That being said, I also want to prepare myself for the mother I want to be.

I know, I know…I have no control over how motherhood will actually go and there is no way to truly prepare for the day-to-day with our new little one. Every baby is different and there is just no way of knowing who they will be. I don’t disagree with all of that. And I don’t believe I will be able to control everything that happens. However, I have been asking myself what I can control, just as I do in my everyday life pre-baby.

What I can do is establish some habits now that will hopefully be carried over into my postpartum period. I expect that I won’t be able to or want to continue doing all the things I do now. Such as, I am sure I won’t be writing as frequently, if at all. Or perhaps I take an 8-12 week hiatus to spend time with our babe. Still, if I can establish some habits now, including a self-care routine, I think I will be more likely to do them later on.

Self-care is important in all stages of life. If you haven’t read it, go read my previous post Replenishing Reserves. The fact is, we can’t be present or helpful for our loved ones, if we don’t first refill our own tanks for giving. Our tanks get low from taking care of others, expressing negative feelings and simply not taking care of ourselves. Self-care doesn’t have to be anything super involved or time-consuming. It can be really small, even. I am going to spend the next few Wednesdays talking about some different options for giving yourself some self-care.

I started this year with meditation. I have still done it, nearly every day (missed this past Saturday) the past two weeks. I do it for just 4-5 minutes a day. I have expanded this practice to include different breathing exercises, such as alternate nostril-breathing and spend a lot of the time refocusing my wandering mind to be present in this moment. I feel more patient, grounded and able to concentrate. I feel my stress level decrease and my productivity increase. I have also found that I am less hung up on my to-do list. I do what I can, the best that I can and that is all. Nothing more. Nothing less. I am practicing giving myself grace for the things I am not able to complete and a pat-on the back for the things I have finished.

Another practice I have developed to help with this is to sit down at the end of every day and write a quick recap of what I did do today. It seems like many of us, myself included, perceive happiness as based on what we accomplished in one day. How much of that to-do list did we complete? What I often don’t realize is how much I truly did, including social interactions and relationship development activities. Writing them all down puts this all into perspective for me. It is not all about the tasks I completed, but also the moments I was able to experience and be present for. I need this reassurance in order to give myself the grace and recognition that I deserve.

Another thing I make time for nearly every day is reading. I have actually been doing this habit for over the last year. I kept telling myself how much I wanted to read more, either for academic purposes or just for fun. Reading has long been important to me, but has always been pushed aside to make time for other things. Last year, I decided that wouldn’t happen anymore. I prioritized it. I made changes. I don’t read a lot everyday, but I do read for about 10-15 minutes every morning. I have this time to myself before the rest of the house is awake and moving to just breathe, relax, think and read. By the time the my husband comes to life, I am ready to be present with him. And on workdays, I go to work with a much more settled state of mind.

I am more even-keeled and able to take on the day because I know that I took some time that morning to take care of myself, doing something I love. Even if it was only for 15 minutes.

I read both fiction and non-fiction depending on the month. I am currently finishing Ida May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth to support my current experiences, and I have a book on hold at the library about the mind-gut connection I posted about recently. I am always interested in learning and find these texts really soothing. I also rent them from the local library so I am not spending a lot of money on books!! Remember those places? Libraries? They are pretty convenient. Even if they don’t carry the book you want, they often allow you to request it and will borrow it from another library for your convenience. It’s actually kind of awesome.

I hope if you are doing this meditation challenge with me, that it is going well. If not, it is never too late to start. Today is a new day! What is stopping you? Get up 15 minutes earlier and read. Or just breath. Be present in your own body, in your own space, in a time of stillness.

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