I was walking through the snow, from my vehicle to my teenage son's school entrance with a sleeping toddler in hand. We were running late to watch said teenager play basketball. My husband was right behind getting the door and holding on to our 5 year old- he’s a runner. As soon as I stepped through the door, the snow on the bottom of my shoe met the glossy, warm floor and down I went with sleeping toddler in hand. I intentionally protected him with acrobatic moves and banged myself up in the process. Thankfully, my baby boy was not harmed and that was all that mattered to me in the moment.
Reflecting on that incident revealed something I rarely pay much attention to----how intentional actions can have a huge impact on how we live our lives. I came to the conclusion--- If we are as intentional about being healthy, safe, and relational as a mother is about protecting her baby we can really learn to be present with and love ourselves and others at such a deeper more intimate level. Intentional living, to me, can be summed up in the term Self-Care.
I am often asked how I incorporate self-care into my daily routine and I now answer (lesson learned), very intentionally. Truth be told, if I am not intentional about it- it will not get done. Life is busy for most of us. Self-care that becomes a part of your lifestyle is done with intention- not by chance. Self-care does not have to be elaborate actions. Just a few simple, intentional actions each day can make a big difference. A few examples are listed below but remember the key is to be intentional with your actions, being aware of what is going on within and around you.
· Relaxing activities: are a great way to be grounded in the here and now- as long as you are not mindlessly doing them but rather being intentional about noticing your surroundings using your senses (sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste). Some of those activities include warm bath, crocheting, coloring, painting, singing along with music, and yoga.
· Reading: Intentionally consuming content that is going to have a positive impact on us. We are surrounded by so much negativity in the media and the world that it is easy to focus on those things. I notice my attitude changes for the positive when I intentionally read books and content that help me to grow spiritually, intellectually, and personally.
· Eating healthy: it is no secret consuming foods that nourish our bodies is good for us. It may take some planning ahead, but choosing to buy, prepare and consume healthy foods can be made simple. When we are intentional about what we consume, we are making a healthy choice and that has a great impact on how we feel both physically and emotionally.
· Journaling: intentionally writing about what I am grateful for, what I am seeking God for, dreams and hopes for my life helps me to be grounded and process my thoughts, which helps me to take positive actions.
· Daily exercise (or at least 3 times a week): This can include walking, working out alone at home, or with others at the gym. I try to be intentional with my thoughts as I exercise, focusing on my surroundings, breathing, and body sensations. This helps me to be grounded in the here and now.
This list is obviously not exhaustive, there are so many healthy, self-care actions that we can take each day to improve our quality of life. Once we become intentional about how we live our lives, we will let go of the mindset that life just happens to us and begin living our lives with purpose. Be as intentional with your self-care as a mother protecting her baby. You are worth it. And remember if you don’t take care of yourself you are not in a healthy place to take care of anyone else.