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How Self-Care Can Help You Thrive in Your Actual Life

Flourish with self-care

Here in this community, we are encouraging one another to “cultivate practices to thrive” as a means of self-care. What does that mean, exactly?

Last week I wrote about self-care and I proposed a new definition.

Self-care is any activity that strengthens us body, soul, or spirit and equips us to live our actual lives.

Some other definitions will be helpful in this discussion.

Cultivate: To promote or improve the growth of by labor and attention

Thrive: To grow or develop vigorously; flourish

Let’s put it all together, shall we? In this community, we cultivate practices to thrive, or, more simply, we grow habits of self-care that allow us to flourish.

I’ve written about how I struggled in early motherhood, often feeling depleted, no matter what “self-care” activities I engaged in. I came to realize that “self-care” is not a commercial activity – pedicures, face masks, or a new candle. Rather, it’s about developing habits that promote health – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – as we live our actual lives.

Actual Help for Our Actual Lives

I keep using the phrase our “actual lives.” Here’s what I mean by that. Self-care is not helping us to build a different, better, easier, or more desirable life. Self-care is with us in the trenches, strengthening us and preparing us to face what is.

Self-care isn’t going to make your baby sleep through the night. However, putting your tired self to bed right after your baby goes down – instead of staying up to binge the latest Netflix show – will help you to rise to her cries a little less bleary-eyed at three in the morning.

Self-care isn’t going to change that this is a difficult season of marriage or parenting. But going to counseling will empower you with the tools you need to engage with your spouse or child constructively.

Self-care isn’t going to help your ailing parent to heal. But picking up the phone to call an in-home care provider will allow you to take a break, which is something every caregiver needs.

Our circumstances may not change, but caring for ourselves will empower us to face the challenges of our current season. We care for ourselves by building habits that strengthen and equip us.

Is Thriving Always Possible?

In a difficult season of life, thriving may feel like an impossibility. That’s okay. Sometimes we are in survival mode. We can accept that season without beating ourselves up because we’re not flourishing.

When thriving isn’t possible, the habits we’ve cultivated during healthier seasons will carry us through. We’ll probably need to make adjustments, but the framework we’ve built will help us maintain health during that intense time.

Let’s look again at the example of early motherhood. In the earliest days and weeks of caring for a newborn baby, it is pure survival mode. Even if you have a supportive spouse and community, you are an around-the-clock feeding machine (even if you’re bottle feeding!). In addition, if you’ve given birth, your body is recovering from a major event! In my experience, when you have a newborn, almost everything goes by the wayside except for feeding (yourself and your baby) and sleeping (whenever possible).

If you’ve got a newborn, you shouldn’t keep trying to wake up early to observe your centering morning routine. That can return when it actually serves you again. But maybe part of your morning routine – like sitting in quiet for a few minutes, or reading a psalm from your bible – is something that you still find valuable in this season, and you’re able to find ways to fit those pieces into your life.

Cultivate Practices to Thrive

In the beginning, I said that in this community, we are encouraging one another to cultivate practices to thrive. What habits have you developed that allow you to flourish, right where you are?

We’re on a journey together to learn how to build practices in our lives that promote our own well-being. Sign up for my monthly newsletter to stay connected!

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