A couple of years ago, I was that mom so many of us know.
Always running, never resting—operating on empty.
I was serving in my church, volunteering at school, attending PTO meetings, running a business, driving my kids to practice after practice, and more.
I said yes to almost everything that was asked of me, and on top of that, I asked plenty of myself. Now, when I look back on pictures from that time, I can see it in my eyes; I can see how depleted I was—how hopeless I felt. I thought this level of performance was the only way to be. I was tired of it, but I couldn’t see an alternative at the time.
As women and mothers, every day we’re bombarded with outside voices telling us where our attention should be focused. Charity organizations, social media, work commitments, school fundraisers… The directions in which we’re pulled are endless.
You Don’t Have to Keep Up
I’ve seen a lot of women online lately talking about pushing through the exhaustion to get all the things done and how full-coverage under-eye concealer is a girl’s best friend.
Sometimes I look at these women and wonder how they do all the things they do. I can’t keep up the pace anymore. Migraines, body aches, exhaustion—and eventually, the diagnosis of an autoimmune disease—taught me that I’m not meant to live that way any longer. (I don’t think I ever was.)
If I could, I’d put an arm around any woman who’s running faster than she has strength and say, “I know your mental to-do list is a mile long but please, PLEASE make sure you are at the top of it.”
Why We Don’t Prioritize Self-Care
As moms, we’re notorious for not valuing our own rest. My question today is—Why? Why don’t we keep ourselves on the priority list?
- Do we feel pressure to keep up with the achievements of women we follow on Instagram or watch in real life?
- Do we think that our value—our worth—is tied to how much we can get done in a day?
- Do we believe that we’re somehow not as deserving of rest as our children, our spouse, and everyone around us?
I think it’s a combination of all of these, and I’m here to tell you—It’s hurting us, and no one can operate on empty forever.
Whether it’s our physical health, our mental health, our relationships, or something else altogether, eventually something will slide.
How to Put Yourself Back the List
In the months since my health first took a turn, I’ve begun practicing the difficult but essential art of silencing the outer noise and tuning in to what I know in my heart is right for me. Through yoga, journaling, and prayer, I’m finding pockets of peace throughout my days instead of pushing through, like I used to. And I’m giving myself permission to sleep instead of telling myself I can do without.
It’s when I’m really listening to the voice inside of me that I find the peace and inner conviction I crave.
I love these words from Iain Thomas:
“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, ‘This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No, this is what’s important.'”
It isn’t easy to silence the voices that make me think I should do more and chase more. In fact, most days it feels like a constant tug of war.
But the moments when I trust my instincts, ignore what the world outside tells me I SHOULD be doing, and instead follow what I know is right for me and my family (even if it means going against the grain), these are the times when I’ve felt most at peace.
So friend, if the voices around you are so much louder than the voice inside of you, let me be the one today to encourage you to pull back your hand and insist that THIS is what’s important.
Commit right now to learning to hear your deepest voice and to waking up tomorrow and the next day and the day after that prepared to hold to that conviction.
You matter, friend. You deserve the same rest and care that you offer to everyone around you.
Now that I’ve shared some of my story, I’d love to hear yours! What keeps YOU from prioritizing your own physical and emotional needs? How are you making small steps toward physical and emotional wellness?