The salad you see pictured below was my dinner last night. It was so beautiful, I had to take a picture. The mixture of colors, textures, and aromas promised to be a treat to my eagerly awaiting stomach.
Before I could dig into this plate of heaven, I had been cooking and prepping mails to last the entire week. I developed this habit over a year ago to ensure I was getting the proper nutrients throughout the week to compensate for my rigorous daily workouts. Also, I found meal prepping a great way to control portions and save time on weeknights, and save money from eating out.
After I finished cooking, cleaning, and putting away dishes I was pooped and ready to eat. My meal was sitting stashed away on a lonely corner of my counter until I had completed all of my food prepping chores.
When I finally sat down to eat my salad, I relished every moment. The salad was lush with vibrant mixed greens, seasoned chicken lightly pan-fried in coconut oil, sweet strawberries, blueberries, and fragrant toasted pecans.
ted pecans, and tangy Gorgonzola cheese. And the salad was topped off with a homemade, rich, honey mustard dressing.
Yes, the salad tasted just as good as it sounds. Even my cat Leo wanted some!
It was so good to take the time to eat this delicious salad that was just as delightful to look at as ti was to eat.
Particularly for us women, sometimes we just don’t take the time to love on ourselves or treat ourselves well. Many of us are mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters and often feel responsible for taking care of everyone else.
Interestingly enough, even single women feel the burden to be selfless and others-focused at all times, even if they don’t have a family to take care of. Many are cajoled to over-extend themselves in some form of service in addition to their full-time work, whether that be volunteering, ministry, or entertaining others.
We neglect ourselves.
Worse yet, we expect others to do for us what we can do for ourselves.
Sometimes it’s okay to love on yourself. It’s okay to make yourself a fabulous salad and enjoy every bite in peace and quiet (if you like the quiet!). It’s okay to take a nice soothing bath and treat yourself like a queen for a couple of hours.
Celebrate yourself! If you feel unloved, love yourself. If you feel unappreciated, appreciate yourself. If you feel unnoticed, notice yourself. Get in touch with where you are and acknowledge it.
And you know something, once you begin to treat yourself well, you’ll notice others following suit. They’ll see that you value yourself and they will respond in like, valuing you as well. Sometimes you have to set the example.
Self-care shouldn’t be implemented only once you’ve reached burn out. Incorporate small self-care session into a daily, weekly, or monthly routine.
My Wake-up Call
My view of self-care drastically changed the day I went to the emergency room with severe stomach pain.
For months I had been consuming lots of caffeine and not eating very well. French fries, ice cream, cookies, lots of tea, fast food. I was super busy. I commuted to work 45 minutes to an hour one-way daily. I ran weekly dance rehearsals for my dance group. I was teaching dance classes, and I was also in another dance group.
I was doing too much.
I was trying to do it all, so I was tired all the time.
I began to rely heavily on caffeine to compensate for my lack of energy. I ate fast food because, I was always on the go—and it was fast!
I simply wasn’t taking care of myself.
Then one Saturday morning, I developed severe stomach pain from a combination of a high-dosage zinc supplement and coffee on an empty stomach.
I’m not going to say I thought I was dying, but I knew something was seriously wrong. The pain was so strong, I could not stand up. I was able to call my mom and she drove me to the ER. Ya’ll, I was still in my pajamas with a pink head scarf! Not my most glamorous moment. Thinking about it now, it was funny, but I was in so much pain at the time, I didn’t even care how I looked.
I was diagnosed with gastritis. I was dehydrated, so the nurses gave me an IV to replenish my fluids and some prescription-grade stomach soother, like Pepto Bismol, but stronger. They held me for a few hours, then let me go home.
After this, I vowed I would never go the ER ever again. I promised myself I would never make another trip to the ER again. I immediately adopted a health and fitness routine to get myself healthy and active again. So far, I have kept my promise.
This episode taught me a strong lesson: my health is all I have. If I don’t have my health, I have nothing. Without my health, I couldn’t work, dance, or support myself. If I can’t make a way for myself, it’s over.
I’ve come to understand the importance of self-care. Taking the time to care for yourself through proper diet and exercise is so vital. Or just taking the time to treat yourself once in a while can do so much for your mental and emotional health. Self-care boosts your morale and overall sense of well-being.