If you sometimes struggle with taking time out for yourself, this post is for you. For the average woman, and for many a Nigerian woman, true Self Care is still a largely foreign concept. People love to talk about the self-sacrificing mother or wife, and even girlfriend (“ride or die” *major side-eye*)!
In such circumstances, taking the time to care for yourself can be an uphill task, what with caring for the rest of the family, from a husband and kids to even in-laws, siblings, and other extended family members. Don’t feel selfish for times when you need to ignore everyone else’s needs and meet yours first. Please remember that you are a worthy human being all by yourself, and a tired, burned-out you is not useful to your family anyway.
Here are a few ways to tell when caring for yourself is really caring for your family too:
Your fuse is getting shorter
Once you find yourself snapping over things that don’t bother you normally, like your cute little one or taking a deep breath and counting to ten when your spouse comes home, that’s a sign that you need some self care. Being occupied with caring for everything and everyone else at your own expense is the fastest way to wear down your nerves. However, having a short fuse and snapping at everyone around you helps neither you nor your loved ones, and ultimately creates an unhealthy home environment—the very opposite of what you wear yourself out trying to achieve. It takes a happy mother to make a happy family.
Your sex drive is getting low
If you’re less and less interested in nooky time, then barring other relationship issues with your spouse, you might want to take a look at your stress levels and general well-being. If you’re fatigued, stressed, or burned-out from taking care of everyone else’s affairs without looking to yours, your libido is going to take a hit. This will in turn, put a strain on your relationship with your spouse, a strain which will eventually escalate into a tense home environment, if left unchecked. So, take that much-needed break, take care of yourself and get your mojo back!
You’re losing touch with things you love
A great time for you might be a night on the town with your girls, or it could mean quiet time alone with a nice book or a notepad. Either way, if you find that you can’t remember the last time you spoke with your friends, much less saw them, or you’re hard pressed to recall the last activity you engaged in all by yourself, just for yourself, you’re in great need of some serious self-care. You need to make that lunch date or pick up that book ASAP!
Your health is failing
If you’re tired all the time or getting constant headaches, your cycle is getting irregular with terrible mood swings and PMS, or you’re showing other symptoms of generally poor health, you might need a doctor, a vacation, or both. Being a caregiver is emotionally and physically tasking, and the resulting stress can take its toll on your health. Without conscientious self-care, you take the risk of breaking down, or even losing your life, which really doesn’t help your family. You need to be alive and healthy to care for others.
You remember that you simply deserve it (Because you do).
Hey! You can give yourself a treat just because! You are a person who deserves nice things, no explanations or special reasons required. Outside of every other relationship that defines you, you are primarily defined by your relationship with yourself. While part of self-care is demanding that the people in your life treat you with love, respect and consideration, self-care ultimately depends on you to fill your own tank.
Now, go get that ice cream cone (or gourmet smoothie a la fitfam); go take that swim/ride that bike; have that much-needed afternoon snooze/lie-in; or take that weekend off with your girlfriends.
You should add a routine check-up (with a pap smear test!) to that list. Because you deserve it, and so does your lovely family.