In Beyond Blue, Therese Borchard writes about how self-care is a big part of mental health. In my review of the book, I write about the self-care principles that Borchard recounts in Beyond Blue. Borchard writes dramatically of how prayer and the spiritual life, attention to diet, exercise and good sleep; and healthy friendships can all help maintain or lift one's mood. In my interview with her , she addresses in particular the need for new moms to seek help whenever possible to be able to do this, but this could also apply to those caring for elderly parents, a special needs child, or just the busy-ness of everyday life for any person.
What do you do to take of you? I don't mean this in an Eat, Pray, Love kind of way, but rather a healthy, balanced approach to taking care of yourself in order to better love yourself and those around you.
For me, one of my main "taking care of me" things is running. I'm a slow runner, but I truly enjoy the time running as well as how it helps me feel better and accomplished. I may not be able to keep up with housework or be stuck on a writing project, but I can finish a 10-mile run and feel awesome. Those endorphins are real! My weekend "long run" is a cherished time for me.
Participating in races is also a great time to get together with others and enjoy the ambience of post-race fun. Even though I don't run very fast, I have found I really enjoy long distances. I've completed two half-marathons this year, and I will be participating in a third this weekend. Even writing that puts a smile on my face!
Recently, I was with another mom who expressed that she sometimes feel selfish "getting away" to run (she is actually a very fast runner) or do other things for herself. I know that feeling too. I think we all do, and it's okay to recognize that pull. But I also know it makes me a better wife, mom and friend, to have this interest that is wholly mine (and that I hope to pass along to my kids).
I've been running since I was a teenager (introduced to it by my father when running wasn't cool yet :-) , but for some reason I gave it up when I became pregnant with my first child. I now see that that was a mistake. I didn't take up running again in earnest until about 6 years ago, and I am so glad that I did--running the occasional race and keeping active this way is important for my mental, not just physical, health.
I have many other ways that I work to take care of myself--anyone care to second dark chocolate or Jane Austen?--but I'm interested to hear yours. What are ways that you take care of yourself? How does it help?