Three Pillars of Self-Care – No Matter What Life Throws at You

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Part 1 of 3: Boundaries

Self-care can feel overwhelming, like one more thing on your to-do list. Especially when life turns chaotic, such as entering a global pandemic AND the collective trauma of racial injustice.

It can be difficult to see through the fog and realize that we have a choice, no matter what: we can choose to ride the wave the best we can or get hit repeatedly in the face by the ocean. I’d like to offer three pillars of self-care you can cling to no matter what.

self-care boundaries

Think of them as your surfboard. You’ll likely still get thrown off or fall in the water (actually I can guarantee that), but you’ll know how to get back on. As a Self-Care Coach, I talk a lot about self-care as the number one way women change the world and moms show up for our kids.

In this three-part series, I’ll focus on: boundaries, the little consistent things, and grace.

Boundaries

We talk a lot about boundaries and most of us know we need to have healthy ones. But in a world dominated by people always needing something from us and our “react and respond RIGHT now” culture, it can feel nebulous.

But what even ARE boundaries? Simply put, boundaries are what insulate yourself from the chaos of the world. Think of them as the cocoon around which you protect your heart and allow you to sustain your energy.

So how do we have healthy boundaries? First, we need to get clear on ALL the things we need boundaries from. The ones I need to be conscious of are: people, news, social media, sleep, and time.

But really it’s about being honest about what depletes you. They’re different for everyone. Making time to explore what depletes you is crucial.

I know that certain people deplete me so I either cut them out or limit my exposure. News and social media are powerful tools for information, action, and connection. So I create rules around how I consume it, especially designating times of the day when it is healthy for me to engage, and when I need to turn it off. For me, I don’t engage for the first couple of hours of my day or the last couple. This is how I protect my heart for sleep.

Sleep

Speaking of sleep. It is so incredibly important; science shows that we are chronically sleep-deprived, and this affects everything from decision making, emotional processing and regulation (you know, when we yell at the kids), and even illness. Ask yourself, do you prioritize your sleep? Do you know how much sleep you need to feel on top of the world?

For me, sleep is the number one thing I do to create boundaries from the world. I’m a better mom when I sleep; I’m more creative; I respond better to negative encounters; and I’m less reactive.

But let’s be real, we’re all moms. We may KNOW we need more sleep. And I hear you: “But Jenelle, I have TOO much to do. I’m too busy to sleep more.” I get it, it’s hard, and there will be times when you get less than you need.

But I’ll tell you, as a single mom running my own business, my biggest secret is simple: I prioritize it. Above a clean house, above evening activities, and sometimes even above exercisel

Ok, I’ll get off my sleep soapbox. The point is you need to get clear on what YOU need to feel recharged, refueled, and rejuvenated. And create boundaries around them so the things that deplete you don’t drain too much of you.

Because you can’t pour from an empty cup. And it’s hard to ride the waves without a surfboard.

Simple But Not Easy

I’ll end this by saying: I know first-hand that it’s far from easy. I developed radical self-care after years of backburnering myself, and experiencing the consequences of that. As moms in society that conditions us to care for others before ourselves, it’s hard to develop a new paradigm. But I’m not special; it can be done. (Ok, I am special, but so are you.)

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