Not Taking Care Of Yourself Is Like Saying Nothing Else Really Matters

I had an epiphany the other day. Not a giant one exploding with rainbows and world peace or anything. Just a small, obvious moment of clarity. I realized that not taking care of myself is like saying nothing else really matters.

I skip meals, skip sleep, skip taking my vitamins All. Of. The. Time.

I am talking daily.

I get busy.

Art dragonfly watercolor
Taking Care of Yourself Makes Transformation Possible: Dragonfly Transformation, 11×15 Watercolor

 

I don’t eat breakfast or lunch and then eat 27 snacks to make up for it. I eat junk food. I sit still too much typing on my computer and playing with Tiny-Small on the floor. I don’t get the proper amount of exercise anymore.  Sleep? Oh forget that. I will skip sleep in the name of blog posting or watching TV or just enjoying the quiet. I will skip a lot of things to have some quiet time all to myself. In short, I don’t always take care of myself very well. I don’t have any excuses for not taking care of myself, except, maybe laziness. I just haven’t made the whole “I am a person with needs” thing a priority yet. It’s pretty ridiculous when you can’t make sleeping and eating a priority, right?

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The thing is when you don’t eat well or sleep enough it limits your ability to do other things well. I get cranky or I can’t think or I find myself down in the dumps. This is what made me realize that not taking care of myself well means I won’t get to do all of the other things I really want to do. I mean sure, staying up late will get my blog post written for a couple of nights, but stay up late for a couple of weeks and I won’t even want to write anything let alone have the ability to write anything with any kind of lucidity. If I don’t eat well I get all shaky from being hungry or I get shaky from eating way too much candy and chocolate chip cookies. Shaky hands make for bad painting. Then, throw in the whole cranky mom thing and you have a dysfunctional basket case. I become a walking disaster.

Not taking care of yourself is like saying nothing else really matters.
Not taking care of yourself is like saying nothing else really matters.

So, from now on when I think about skimping on my need for food, sleep, relaxation and exercise in the name of my art, I will remember that without all of those needs being met there won’t be any art. There won’t be any good parenting and there likely won’t be any living a long, healthy life. That seems unacceptable to me. I want to be the best I can be as often as possible. I especially want to live a really long life so I can see Tiny-Small grow up and be amazing. I also want to be a better partner to poor Jim who puts up with my cranky, sloth-like nature.

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I’m on a quest to get better sleep. To eat more vegetables. To relax more and have more fun. To be a more present, patient, and less cranky mom. All of this starts with taking care of myself better. It seems so easy, but why does it prove to be so hard? It seems like it should come naturally and yet it is still a struggle. Do you have trouble taking care of yourself? Do you find that skimping on your basic necessities ends up backfiring in the end? What is your experience with all of this making yourself a priority thing? Are you taking care of yourself?

 

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41 thoughts on “Not Taking Care Of Yourself Is Like Saying Nothing Else Really Matters”

  1. I was in the same boat as you. I was eating junk food, staying up late on twitter, watching tv or movies on my iPad. I decided the other day to do a juice cleanse and start fresh. Empty out the fridge of all my junk food and really start to appreciate vegetables. Today is my last day of my juice fast and I feel great!! It’s not for everybody but it worked for me. I now have to make time to exercise. My gym has a daycare and my daughter goes to preschool. There should be no excuse! I have gained a ton of weight and I’m very sad about it. I keep telling myself I will exercise but it hasn’t happened. Thank you for posting this! I’m not saying I’m grateful you are going thru a rough spot, but knowing I’m not alone in this battle might make it easy for us! Don’t be too hard on yourself either. You do a great job as a mother and an artist!

    1. You are always so sweet to me! I am glad you have plans to take better care of your health too. I have gained some wait as well. The more I gain the less I want to do. It’s a vicious cycle. I don’t care so much about being skinny as I do about having energy and some muscle tone. I have let myself go lately. Christmas pushed me over the edge (all of those cookies!). I think I put too much stress on myself…too many demands! I have so much I want to accomplish so I push my limits. I am starting to realize that when I push the limits too far I end up accomplishing much less than I would have otherwise.

  2. Taking care of yourself is a difficult process, especially when you have a family that you need to take of too. We’re brought up in a world of convenience but eating right and exercising is far from that. It seems that if we can’t have a quick fix then it’s not worth it. I know when I take the time to exercise I feel so much better that I can’t believe I stopped…. and then I stop. Something will trigger you (maybe it already has) to spend more time for you but until then, I wouldn’t worry about it. You’re aware of your situation which really is half the battle. 🙂

    1. I need to eat regularly and then I will eat more healthy foods. I am always starving by the time I think about eating. I wait to long and then eat anything that doesn’t move!

  3. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t take care of myself at all. If I had to figure out where my needs fall in my list of priorities, I’d probably have to look on page two. I’m trying to change that though. I think it happens to a lot of mums. There is a time when you are needed by your children for every single thing, and as they grow up and need you less, it’s hard to put the energy they used to require back into ourselves. At least that’s what I’ve been thinking. I had the thought that I should take care of myself as if I were my own child. Then, not only would I get enough sleep and proper nutrition, but I would probably find more time to myself too! Of course… I haven’t managed it yet. :\

  4. oh, mama. i have been writing about this very thing on my blog for a while now. i am terrible at placing myself on my priority list, but as of jan 1st i am slowly getting better and trying NOT to feel guilty about it. sigh.
    small steps, small goals will lead you to a bigger and better place.
    good luck!

  5. Good for you! I have seriously wondered how you do it all. I agree with the masses that it seems impossible to prioritize yourself at times when you’ve got kids, but even a couple small changes will probably have a big impact. I’m working on it myself. You can do it!

  6. I’m right there with ya. Since my husband starting working a gazillion hours a week I’ve felt like there’s no time for me to take for myself. I used to get up every morning and walk, but he leaves so early and now it’s so cold that I’m lucky if I fit in a few exercises a week (I have a 4 year old who doesn’t like me to exercise unless it’s on her terms!) And eating right? HA! I probably eat better than a lot of Americans, but I eat too much of the stuff I shouldn’t. I’ve been trying to focus more on me too-it’s so hard!

    1. It really is hard. It means taking time away from someone or something else. Sometimes I am just too darn tired to do the things I should be doing…like exercise and making myself balanced meals.

        1. It’s still my favorite meal shhhhhh. Also, are you looking in my windows or something? That is exactly what I had for lunch a few days ago.

  7. You are reading my mind right now. I am tired of being so hard on myself for not taking care of myself, yet it’s a pattern. I beat myself up for not working out or staying up too late while eating cookies. I need to return to loving me again which means taking time for me which means not more laptop time, but productive, take care of me time. If you find your motivation, please share!

    1. I can relate. Taking care of yourself becomes one more thing on the “to do” list. I spend way too much time on the Internet. It keeps my mind occupied at least!

  8. I was kind of banking on the whole shaky/miserable/cranky/over-tired thing inspiring great literature. Bad plan. Thank you for the timely reminder. I’ll be going to sleep before 11:00 pm because of you.

  9. Honestly, I love sleep so much that I can count on one hand how many times I have chosen to stay up late rather than go to bed. My diet, however, straddles this weird dichotomy of healthy meals and way too many sugary treats, and exercise is non-existent.

    If you don’t mind a suggestion, try treating yourself like you do Tiny-Small. Make a point to eat meals with her and set yourself a reasonable bedtime.

    1. You are so smart and so right. I treat myself as well as my child until something throws the schedule off. Then I have a hard time getting back on it again. It’s so weird how it takes a long time to form a habit and only a moment to break it. I will be working on this!

  10. I guess it is a phase with every parent – and don’t take me wrong, I don’t want to minimise your problems/words, but it was like that with me and with many other parents that I know. It is good that you brought that up – there should be no compromises when it comes to one’s health. And it is high time to realise that not getting enough of sleep or eating shitty food actually HAS an impact on our health (and not even a small one!).

    1. I think it’s an unavoidable phase for parents. Especially when you have an infant, but if we are aware of it we can do just small things to live better!

  11. Oh my god. My therapist has basically said the exact same thing to me. That by not eating properly or sleeping or making an effort do take care of the physical me that I’m neglecting myself. I never saw it as neglect before but you’re right. If I don’t do those things I can’t do my job properly, I don’t have the energy to do the fun things I want to do and am in general not as happy as I could be.

    1. When I eat well and exercise I have way less depressive symptoms. It’s amazing, but makes sense. I hope you can start taking better care of yourself too.

  12. I’ve found that being unemployed makes it really hard for me to take good care of myself. I’m not on a strict schedule, so I sleep more, do less, and eat everything (but never in meal form). I eat cookies for breakfast, chips for lunch, and maybe a decent dinner if Brian is home on time. I don’t excercise, and find my days wasted with social media…

    1. I know what you mean. When I had a full time job I was in much better shape. It gives you a schedule to stick with. You would think it would be the opposite, but it isn’t.

  13. You are brave for putting this out there. I will be a partner for you. I have fallen off the wagon since this stupid sinus infection – the first one back in November. I an making sleep a huge priority now. Without sleep I am a brutal dictator. I also need to take better care of my HOME – domestic stuff so I think the iWorld might be seeing less of me. I need to put me back in my life. I’m good…. but I could be better. xoxoxo

    1. I am having the same problem with my home. I have so much to do and it’s not getting done. As it piles up it gets more overwhelming. Spent yesterday playing with Tiny-Small almost all day long. It was awesome. She was so good and so happy. So much competition for our attention these days…important things can get lost in the chaos!

  14. One of my Personal Commandments is this: “Speak as gently to yourself as you would to a child.” I think I need to change this to read: “Treat yourself as gently as you would a child.” Meaning, yes — do speak kindly to yourself (no more self-hate spew!), but also take care of yourself properly. I’m in the process of developing better habits, but for now it’s a matter of forcing myself to mark tasks off a list. Exercise appears alongside writing a blog post, which are both right under “Brush and floss your teeth!” I really tend to ignore every facet of proper health and good hygiene without an agenda to force me to stay on track. It’s time we all realized we are worth the time and energy required in taking care of ourselves! 🙂

    1. Flossing my teeth…I don’t think I did it for the first four months after my daughter was born. I just never got to it. I can totally relate to your list!

  15. I found this blog while searching for reasons why I don’t take care of myself. What you’re describing is very similar to what I’m going through, except I’m a 29 year old man. I got into a “discussion” with my girlfriend tonight, where she brought up that it bothers her that I don’t brush my teeth before bed. She continued to state that she doesn’t want to have to tell her boyfriend how to take care of himself. I should know these things by now… It doesn’t stop there, either. I have bad eating habits, not noticing I haven’t eaten all day until late at night, greasy foods, etc. I sometimes stay in my pajamas all day. I work all the time and don’t know when to shut it off. I even often need to go to the bathroon for like an hour but don’t because I’m too busy. I don’t excercise at all, and just put an app on my phone to remind me to drink water since I was only drinking a glass of water a week… What I don’t understand is that I have lots of energy, I’m not depressed, and I’m not overwhelmed all the time. Perhaps because I’ve neglected myself for so long I’m now used to it. I think there’s more to it, psychologically. There’s gotta be a term for this.

    1. Ian,
      I can relate to everything you just described. I had similar problems even before my daughter was born. I am obsessive about brushing my teeth before bed, but everything else you described was me at 29 as well. Right down to waiting to go to the bathroom. Do you think you might have a hyper-focus sometimes? I can become very focused on projects or work at times. I don’t want to stop what I am doing for anything. I also tend to be very cerebral. I live in my brain. I can disconnect a bit from my body. That can be good and bad at times. I can ignore hunger, pain, thirst for long periods. Not really healthy, but sometimes good for being productive. I suspect that my family has some ADD running through it. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD and so I have done a lot of research about it. I can see similarities in myself and even in my family of origin. I am not suggesting that you have it, but you might look it up and see if it describes you as well. It sounds like you are aware of your self-neglect and that self-awareness is really important. You are taking steps to do something about it too. Having an app to help you drink water? That is pure genius! I’ve taken some workshops on meditation that have helped me get in touch with my body better. To pay more attention to what it needs.

      From what you have written I can tell that the relationship you have with your girlfriend is really important to you. I would suggest having a talk with your doctor about it or making an appointment with a counselor. They will help you tease out the root of your problem and help you formulate a plan of action. I am sure your girlfriend wants you to be healthy and to live a long life. I am sure you want to do that too.

      Good luck! At least we know we are not the only people going through this kind of stuff. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

  16. I think taking care of yourself is one of the hardest things to do, especially once you are a parent. I used to struggle with the eating and sleeping when I was writing and painting so often. I haven’t really found a balance, though, because now that I eat well and get plenty of sleep I am missing my artistic outlet. I hold on so tightly to the housework, food preparation, and being a present parent that I lose myself. Months ago, I put away all my art supplies, justifying myself by declaring our apartment too small and Jehryn too curious. I can’t wait to begin doing art with him and expressing myself in that way again. (When did you introduce finger paint and crayons to Tiny-Small? Jehryn is 18 months and still puts so much in his mouth, but I want to give crayons a shot.) One thing that I have been good about lately is letting myself read books. It is so hard to divide up what little “free time” we are allotted as parents. I completely understand your craving for some quiet alone time. I hope you are able to find some balance.

    1. Sometimes I think balance is impossible when you have young kids. You have to give one thing up for another. When Tiny-Small was first born I read a lot. Sometimes in the middle of the night! It was the only thing I could do that was just for me. You just have to do the best you can and that will change as your kids grow. I used to make really good paintings when Tiny-Small took two naps a day! Now I spend most of my time trying to keep that girl out of trouble. My parenting philosophy has always been to let Tiny-Small do anything that wouldn’t hurt her. I am really into hands on and experiential learning. I think she was drawing on my walls around 18 months. She put stuff in her mouth sometimes. I tried to have non toxic materials. She didn’t put everything in her mouth though, and some kids do so I think you probably will know when to introduce the crayons. If he licks them it won’t kill him…haha! I know people finger paint with food sometimes too so if the kids eat it they will be just fine.

  17. I can so relate. I can take care of everyone else and do a super job but there is nothing left over for me. Another thing is, I can’t seem to get off the computer. Ugh!

    1. The computer does take up a lot of time. I know, for me, that it fills some of my need for a social life. I’ve made a lot of friends online that help keep me sane. Not to mention all of the information at my fingertips! It is hard to take care of your self. I know I rarely get enough sleep, but the only thing to do is to start. Try something, anything and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, try something else. I know I am really great at starting things, but as soon as my routine gets messed up it’s hard to start again. Like my exercise routine for instance. I can do it for a week, but a put kink in my schedule and I don’t get back to it for a month! I used to beat myself up over that, but now I just start again…even if it is a month later. Eventually it will stick, right?

      Thank you for leaving a comment. It makes me feel less alone in my inability to find some balance. I just keep working at it. One day we will get there!

  18. I didn’t remind myself that i needed to take care of myself- the universe did that for me. In an IN YOUR FACE kinda way. *gee tnx, universe*. So, now i have to attune my body to working on *me*… in a *right now* kind of way…. and, it’s not being received very well, and some days- i just don’t know HOW to do it. And, it’s not like there is ANY notion of *HOW LONG* this will take….. but- one day at a time, right?

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