Take Good Care Series
For many, many years I did not take care of myself physically.
Until one summer fatigue slayed me.
While the kids splashed and screamed in the pool, I lay down on the cement beside the pool. I had to keep my eyes on all the kids swimming in the pool, and I didn’t want to stop the fun, but I was so tired. So very tired.
When lying down didn’t alleviate my fatigue, I gave a five-minute warning saying pool time was over and everyone needed to go home.
What in the world was wrong with me? Sure, I never felt super rested and energetic. But that was just life with two young kids and a traveling husband.
But this was different.
This same pattern would repeat itself numerous times before I finally went to the doctor and got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, a very common autoimmune condition, especially for women. I took medicine for that and it helped some.
But that’s really the only change I made. Mostly, I kept doing what I was doing, plowing ahead, trying to stay one step ahead, and adding more and more to each day.
It would take many years, additional diagnoses of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, a trip to Mayo Clinic. And finally I learned to take good care of myself physically.
I am sharing some of the things that have helped me physically restore my health in the hopes that it might help you. But, of course, I am not a doctor and this is not medical information.
Steps for Physical Self-Care
1 – Get sleep.
Fatigue has been a big part of my life. I had to acknowledge that I had physical limitations; in fact, I had to recognize that I needed more sleep than the next person.
All of us have physical limitations. We need restful sleep, nutritious food, and exercise. And we have to give ourselves permission to tend to our physical needs.
2 – Consider eliminating sugar.
As it got later in the day, I would start to lose steam. So I grabbed my comfort food of chocolate chip cookies to keep me going. In the moment, sugar was a temporary fix. But in the long run, it made me more fatigued.
Not eating sugar has been one of THE most significant – and difficult— choices I’ve made.
But I’ve done it and you can too. I eat a Keto diet and my husband eats a Carnivore diet. The only sugar we have (most of the time) is honey. (And I’ve lost some weight along the way!)
3 – Exercise a bit.
Or a lot if you can! I was too tired to exercise. But now I know that exercise creates energy. Even just 20 minutes per day. Whether riding a bike or walking outside with my dogs, I do a little something each day. Each time, I tell myself, Just do ten minutes. And then it usually turns into longer because I’m enjoying myself! This year, I’m adding in some light weight workouts.
4 – Acknowledge the difference between tired and weary.
Tiredness makes me think of being exhausted from working hard. It makes me think of the tired that comes from a purpose-filled day.
Weariness makes me think of a type of tiredness from too much—
- too many activities on the calendar – these activities might be obligations and/or fun things.
- too much indulgence – maybe in comfort foods that we think will help but really make us feel worse; maybe too many glasses of wine on too many nights; too much caffeine.
- too much stress – too many hours working without rest. Pressures every day that don’t let up.
- too many plans – We want our lives to be meaningful and we make plans without consulting God about His plans for our lives.
- over-responsibility – perhaps meeting needs that aren’t ours to meet.
I know that many things in our lives, like jobs, responsibilities of caring for others, and certain stressors are not things we feel we can change or that we have any control over.
But we can change some things. I had to learn that when I added activities to my schedule, I needed to take something off. That sounds so obvious! But I kept adding and adding!
Our choices are ours to make. For example, the choice not to eat sugar was the biggest game-changer for me. Consider one choice you can make to take care of yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up as you read this post. Don’t judge yourself.
But I am going to say this and it might seem pretty direct –it’s time to stop making excuses for not caring for yourself physically. I hope you know I say that out of a place of love.
It took me a long time to take care of myself physically. Hopefully, it won’t take you as long.
And ultimately, it came down to this:
Coming to Jesus with everything.
You see, our self-care in all ways—spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, and relational— always comes down to coming to Jesus first.
And we don’t have to worry about letting Him down, being embarrassed that we’re coming to him with the same thing (I used to feel this way), or worrying that our physical self-care needs are not important to Him.
Listen to Jesus’ sweet invitation in Matthew 11:28-30:
“’Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.’” (NASB)
Many of us know this verse, but do we do what it says?
Jesus is gently inviting us to lay it all down, and then pick-up only His assignments.
Many of us know this verse, but today let’s choose to really do what it says.
What does my body need right now?
What small change can I make today to take good care of myself physically? Just one step.
- Take a nap when the kids nap.
- Don’t read your phone at night.
- A little bit of exercise – play with the kids, stretch, lift light weights, walk.
- Throw away unhealthy food in your pantry and frig.
- Make a doctor’s appointment, get a check-up, and get medical advice for physical ailments.
- Ask a friend or spouse to make a change with you.
Thank you for being here!
P. S. For a previous post on self-care, click here.