By Lovisa Woodson II
I believe taking care of yourself is essential to maintaining a clear mind, healthy body, and joyful spirit. Though we aren't always taught to do so from an early age especially as Black women in America. I come from a strong and proud matriarch where women ruled. I've always seen women as leaders and attribute this to becoming a fourth-generation female entrepreneur.
Like many of my peers, I was raised through the inevitable ups, downs and challenges of a single mother home where I watched my mother take care of herself last. If you're anything like me, you understand what this family dynamic does to your spirit and how it shapes the woman you become – a woman who had to learn the hard way how to love herself and what self-care looks like.
While I was very timid growing up it was inevitable that I'd someday find my strength, my voice and my power. Still, the journey along the way wasn't always so simple and certainly not easy. I did know since I was a very young woman that I would not put myself last. Even after becoming a mother at the age of twenty-four I made sure I did things for myself and with myself. I never allowed my children to consume all my time, to follow me into the bathroom (the one quiet place some of us have), or to spend my days feeling like I was constantly cleaning up after and running behind my children. At the time I didn't associate any particular term with this but knew I had to take care of myself, first.
"You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first."
Today, we live in a society where we’ve become much more aware of our state of mind, how we feel, and we want more out of life. We demand more peace, more joy, and good vibes. We’re not just learning that it’s okay to put ourselves first, but we understand it’s a necessity to be a little selfish sometimes. We’re learning our limits and not to push ourselves so far beyond them.
I went to a women’s retreat a few years ago where a therapist reminded us that we can only put so much on our plates. Once our plate is full, we must remove something from it before adding anything to it. It sounds really simple and obvious but it’s not always easy, nor obvious. After all, we’ve been raised by superwomen, so it seems. It’s as if taking on the world is in our DNA. We’re learning to break this cycle, but we must shift our outlook a bit.
As more women take the steps to discover their self-worth and unleash their greatest potential, the term self-care has become increasingly popular. Catching a glimpse into each other’s lives we’re seeing more spa days, getaways, and of course more wine. Let me say, I’m here for all of it ladies!
Promoting the advancement of women is at the core of who I am and the work I do and I know it starts with learning to making ourselves a priority. It brings me joy to see so many women celebrating themselves and each other. It’s truly beautiful but why do we look at self-care as a mere celebratory ritual, something we do when it’s time for a break or after a total burnout?
Self-care is something that doesn’t come easy for many women though we need it the most. We’re tasked with the impossible of balancing a life of working, cleaning, being a mother, sister, friend, wife, goal digging and so much more all while striving to live our best lives. We often feel guilty for taking time to ourselves or just taking a day off of work even within our allotted time.
We’ll go to work sick and in mourning as if things will fall apart without us. Trust me, they can go a day without you and if they can’t something is seriously wrong. Even a leader must be so good that in their absence a business runs successfully. This is not to make you feel bad about putting yourself last. This is about raising your level of self-awareness to enable you to shift your mindset about how you see yourself, how your feel about your life, and how you experience the world. Living a more fulfilled life starts with you. It starts in your mind.
I’ve come to the realization that living my best life is about living my life, my way, on my own terms. I’ve learned to slow down, sleep in sometimes, take more breaks, and outsource and delegate where possible. I give my kids more responsibilities around my home. My maintenance man said he never sees anyone else’s kids taking the trash out to the trash room. And guess what? We have valet trash pickup but if I want my trash emptied at any time of day, they’re going to do it.
If you’re a businesswoman consider a virtual assistant, or intern. It’s important to know when you’ve outgrown wearing all the hats in your business. Sometimes it takes being strong enough to know when you can’t do it all without sacrificing your peace of mind or worse, your health. It takes trusting others enough to help where they can and having the patience to teach them to help you successfully.
Self-care should be a part of our everyday lives, like bathing and brushing our teeth. Celebrate your birthday and special occasions but take care of yourself every single day! It’s something that’s very personal to you as an individual. Think of the areas of yourself you’d like to improve. I want you to embody this mindset and lifestyle.
Be mindful of the things that steal your joy and make you feel bad so you can make adjustments or avoid them altogether. Position yourself to do more of what you love, make time for it. If money is an issue be creative about ways to increase your income as well as your time freedom. Buy the shoes. Take the vacation. Enjoy a mental health day off from work and relax. Relocate your funds and budget to do what puts a smile on your face. In short, make it all about you – hold the side of guilt, please. We’re allergic to that now.
Tell me ladies, can we spend more time encouraging each other to live a full life and doing what we love, for us? How have you incorporated self-care into your regular routine?
Join the conversation. Let us know your thoughts below and share your insight to help other women who may need a little more encouragement. And remember, self-care is not a celebratory ritual. It’s a way of life.
About the Author
Lovisa Woodson II is a Mindset & Fulfillment Coach, a gifted creative, wealth consultant and life insurance advocate. She’s the author of GRIT & Sparkle Playbooks – a collection of coaching guides designed to help ambitious women and entrepreneurs achieve greater fulfillment, professional growth, with time and financial freedom. She is a proud mother and lover of humanity, always looking for ways to add value to the lives of others. Her mission is to live her best life so she may teach other women to do the same. Lovisa encourages us all to seek fulfillment over happiness and to always seize opportunities to be a blessing to others.