• nikkialister

The self-care dilemma

In my last post, I looked at how our thinking patterns can influence how we feel and our behaviour, as well as keeping things in perspective. The day after I wrote the post I stumbled upon this quote in my hairdresser’s garden of all places:

Our thoughts and the beliefs that underlie them can play a powerful role in our lives.

This week I’d like to speak in more detail about one of the sanity savers I listed in the introduction to this series; self care. It is probably one of the most difficult to implement for parents, particularly moms and falls more often than not to the bottom of your “to-do” list (if it makes the list at all).

Its confession time; my name is Nikki and I struggle to practice self-care. In the wonderful chaos that is my life, the hubby, kids, parents, my clients and even the dog are well taken care of ... me? Not so much.

Here is the problem for many (as I see it); we believe that when we take time out for ourselves or spend money on something personal that we are being selfish. I’m not advocating that we neglect our kids and rack up high credit card bills but I am encouraging each and every one of you reading this to prioritise time and/or money for you, in the name of self-care.

When speaking to clients about this (and the inner voice that I often argue with) I mostly hear, “I just don’t have the time/energy”. I know this to be true in my life and I am sure it is true for many of you but if you don’t prioritise this important practice, when the pressure is on, you will start to see cracks. This can come in the form of impatience, resentment and even depression.

I would recommend that you start small and work your way up to a day at the spa or weekend away with the love of your life! Think of what you used to do before the kids, a hobby you maybe gave up or pastime that helped you relax and really brought you joy. Have you been meaning to get back to the gym or promising to catch up with a friend? Choose one small thing and do it.

I can already hear the protests, about kids that bombard you in the bath or weekends that are so filled with functions and activities that there is no room for anything else. If you cannot find a gap to carve out some time for self-care, you are too busy. I would encourage you to look at how you can simplify life so that you have more time to catch your breath, once you’ve made the change you won’t be sorry.

It is also important to speak up and communicate your needs to your spouse. We often suffer in silence, hoping our significant other will catch the hint and offer to watch the kids while you meet a friend for coffee, do the school run so you can catch a class at the gym before work or even just entertain the kids for 20 minutes so you can have a bath in peace. Speak up; you might be surprised at the support you’ll receive if you just ask.

Looking after yourself is one of the most SELF-LESS things that you can do. It will show in your relationships and in the way you interact with your kids, in how you drive and even on your face. You cannot give from an empty cup, take time to replenish yourself.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions. I would love to hear from you.




On a more serious note ...

I am a counsellor based on the East Rand of Johannesburg. Life can be hard sometimes but I encourage you to contact me should you feel that you are not coping. I offer individual, couples and family counselling as well as parent coaching. There is no shame in reaching out for help; in fact to me there is no stronger person than one who is willing to ask for help.

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