My Self Care Manifesto

(From the archives of my previous blog, Little Bit of Paradise) … 

A few weeks ago, I started to notice a real connection forming between my lack of personal time and self-care attention and my attitude about…everything.

By day 5 of not washing my hair, or day one hundred and who knows what of wearing yoga pants, messy bun, and flip flops – I just start to slip into this “grunge” mentality that not only affects my outward appearance, but also my attitude, my hormones, my treatment of the kids and my spouse, and my ability to deal with external stresses.

This past summer kicked off more high octane than usual. Life has just been fast paced and distracting. And I’m coming to an honest place with the fact that the less I take care of myself, the more depressed and messy my outlook on everything becomes.

I’m fed up with feeling gross, and I’m determined to do something about it. I’ve made some lists, I’ve made a few modest purchases, I’ve enlisted the prayer/accountability support of a sister, and I’m praying and working my way to a self-care change.

This is my “self care” manifesto to myself, and I’m sharing it here in public in case some of you feel gross too, and could use a change.

[Disclaimer: these are self-care habits that are important to ME, but that does not mean they have to be important to you. Just because I love pedicures, for instance, does not mean I’m judging whether or not your toenails are trimmed and painted. This is simply a list of small external care habits that affect my inside self, and your list probably will look entirely different from mine.]

My Self-Care Manifesto: 

1. Limit caffeine intake. 

I have a bad habit of jacking myself up on coffee early in the morning, and I know it directly correlates to my blood sugar spikes/crashes, and my desire for sweets or carbs later in the day. I resolve to limit my coffee intake to one (large) Bullet Proof in the morning.

Have you tried Bullet Proof coffee? The stuff is awesome – so incredibly delicious, and super healthy for you too. My mom introduced me to Bullet Proof about a year ago – now she and most of my sisters drink it instead of Regular Joe. I whip mine up in my blender and it is frothy, delicious, and reminds me of a fancy Latte. The biggest shock is that with the butter and oil, it tastes both sweet and milky without having either sugar or dairy in the coffee! You can add honey or stevia to your recipe to make it sweeter. My favorite is adding a sprinkle of cinnamon on the top.

The crazy thing about Bullet Proof is that you feel full, energized, and not craving more caffeine or other things after you’ve sipped one cup.

In my Bullet Proof I use about a tsp or two of Kerrigold grass fed butter, a TB of organic virgin unrefined coconut oil, a scoop of collagen peptides, half a dash of Trader Joe’s organic stevia powder, and a half scoop of clean unflavored protein powder. After I blend on medium until it’s really frothy, I transfer to my mug and sprinkle with cinnamon.

2. Nails/Brows

When my nails and toenails aren’t cared for and my brows aren’t shaped, it’s weird and superficial and probably vain but I feel unkempt inside and out. Just taking a few minutes a week to take care of nails and brows makes a huge difference in the way I feel about my appearance – so I’ve penciled in every Thursday afternoon for when I’m going to address them.

For mani/pedis, I do my own at home except for very rare occasions. I use OPI or Lancome nail polish, and finish nails and toes with a coat of CND Vinylux Top Coat. The stuff is amazing – it keeps my nails chip free for close to an entire week. If I want to go extra fake and fancy, I use KISS glue on French nails in “petite very short.”

3. “Do” my hair

I have naturally curly (read “wild”) hair, so especially in the summer time I’m inclined to wear it up in a messy bun or ponytail nonstop. I’m trying to “let my hair down” a bit more and every time I do, I feel more put together. Thanks to my sister Susan, I recently discovered the art of using a curling wand, as opposed to a curling iron, and it’s been such a mom-life time saver! I can quickly add some put-together curls into my wild curly hair in 10 minutes or less, and I can get at least 2 days out of it, sometimes longer. I bought the cheapest wand I could find at Target and it works great

4. Easy, light makeup routine 

I love to wear makeup – it makes me feel dressed more than clothes. I don’t know if that’s a southern thing or a my sisters and me thing, but I like to wear at least light makeup most days. I keep it simple with Beauty Counter’s Flawless in Five  . It’s legit: a clean, easy face in five minutes flat, without any harmful ingredients. It makes such a difference for my mood and my appearance.

5. Wear nice, pretty pajamas to bed

I remember an older, wiser woman telling me shortly before my wedding years ago “wearing nice pajamas to bed isn’t for the sake of your husband – he’ll be into you no matter what you wear – it’s for YOUR sake – you’ll feel more romantic and feminine on the inside if you look it on the outside.” 

How RIGHT she was.

And yet, here I am married for almost a decade and I still wear flannel Old Navy pajama bottoms and a tank top or one of his big over-sized t-shirts just about every night. And I look and feel like the antithesis of feminine and sexy.

I found two cute outfits at TJMaxx that I liked for summer, although I wasn’t impressed with the quality and how they held up in the washing machine. I’m still shopping around for some cute Fall/winter pajama sets (where do you shop for sweet and sexy night things that are also COMFORTABLE?). So! Work in progress, but I’m committed to staying out of my husband’s dresser drawers and building a comfy but tasteful collection of pajamas. It truly makes a difference in my life (and my marriage!) that’s worth a modest splurge on a few nice pieces. Please let me know if you have suggestions for where I should look.

6. Exercise – in some way – 5x/week

The amount of sweat I produce in a day is directly correlated to my mood, my energy, my eating habits, and my sleep. Of all the self care commitments I make, this one is most important to me, because it truly affects everything.

I try to run 3-4 miles twice a week, and do strength training at my all-women gym, Burn Bootcamp, at least 3 times a week. It’s life to my body and my mood y’all.

7. Protein shakes

Protein shakes and smoothies are the bomb. They fill me up and keep my blood sugar and energy levels where they need to be throughout the day. They also help me refrain from raiding sugary or carb heavy foods that I sometimes stress-crave during the homeschool day but make me feel awful later.

I’m trying to incorporate at least one smoothie into my diet every day, preferably two (one mid morning when the Bullet Proof coffee high wears off, and another mid afternoon to keep me from snacking). My husband formulates our family’s own protein blend from an online company called TrueNutrition (we can choose what type of proteins we want to add, and we can keep other additives and fake sugars out of the powder). I often use beef and egg protein, or pure whey protein. Then I throw in all kinds of greens, berries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, almond butter, coconut oil, frozen fruit, and ice.

BONUS Commitment: The Sun 

In an age of “slather SPF all over yourself and stay out of the sun at all costs!” this is a controversial self care commitment, I suppose, especially for someone “my age.” But I’ll be real – I’m a sun worshiper, and precious few things make me feel happy, healthy, invigorated, and at peace more than 15-20 minutes of sitting outside and soaking in some God-made vitamin D. Bring on the slow-grown tan, too – it makes me feel alive. During the kids’ nap time in summer, I hope to sit outside for 20 minutes, soak up some rays and read a book. It’s my definition of the summer good life (with an super cold Oolong iced tea).

So there you have it – my Mom Self Care Manifesto. I really hope I can maintain these few minutes a day, or a week, for some personal time, because even in just the few short weeks I’ve been trying to get better about self care, I already see it positively affecting my life, and those around me.

Do you set self-care goals for yourself? Does it make you feel better inside and out? And where do you shop for cute pajamas that aren’t flannel pants from Old Navy?

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