nurturenur-ture • noun : the care and attention given to someone or something that is growing or developing

The Dangers of Forgetting to Nurture Yourself

During my first caregiving journey, I learned the hard way what happens if a caregiver doesn’t take care of herself (or himself). For ten months, I lived in a whirlwind of what-ifs and ‘your-husband-might-not-make-its.’ During that time, I thought I had everything under control (with God’s help, of course). My kids ate, I knew where they were (most of the time), my students somehow understood what my chemo-brain-by-proxy mind wanted to impart, and no debt collectors came knocking on our door.

When everything seemed out of control and I craved a minute to myself (and I couldn’t find any chocolate in the house), I would retreat to the bathroom as a place of refuge.

Those nine months felt a lot like the toddler years—back when life consisted of an endless pile of laundry, sticky hands, interminable questions, and enough diapers to lay tracks to the moon and back. I used the bathroom as a place of refuge back then, too.

In fact, self-care and self-nurturing consisted of chocolate and the locked bathroom door—not necessarily at the same time. Only occasionally…if I didn’t want to set a bad example for our girls by overindulging in chocolate in their presence (ok, in all honesty, if I didn’t want to share my chocolate).

But nurturing one’s self should consist of more than a bathroom refuge and a bar of dark chocolate. Because when that’s the extent of self-care we give ourselves, well, problems arise. Like the numbers on the scales. Or the ugly lie of inadequacy. Like the feeling that one has turned into a drudge.

And those feelings stunt our growth. They cut us off at the emotional kneecaps and prevent us from developing and growing.

Ain’t Got Time for That!

Between the toddler years and the cancer year, life smoothed out and I found time to take up old hobbies like sewing and photography. I started running again, and lost my baby fat (well, you know what I mean, the fat I put on when I had babies).

The cancer year tilted our world. I didn’t take care of myself (evidently, I don’t learn fast), and so it took me longer to recover from Pedro’s cancer than it took him to go into remission. I struggled with my weight. Depression threatened to overwhelm me. It got hard to do life. I thought I didn’t have time to nurture myself because we didn’t have extra money and I didn’t have extra time.

I learned the hard way that it costs more to fix a broken situation than it does to maintain growth through nurturing one’s self along the way.

#Nurturing one's self should consist of more than a bar of chocolate and a bathroom refuge. #write31days Click To Tweet

What’s MAPS Got to Do with It?

nurture
If you’re like me, you’ve heard the experts tell you to take time for self-care (synonymous with nurturing oneself). But what does that really mean? How does a gal take time from her work, her family, her church commitments, and her busyness to actually nurture herself?

From my experiences as a nurturer, caregiver, teacher, wife, and overall busy person, I’ve divided the concept of nurturing one’s self into four categories. I try to maintain balance in four key areas of my life by nurturing them each on a daily or weekly basis. By doing so, I hope to achieve:

Mental Wholeness
Academic/Artistic Wholeness
Physical Wholeness
Spiritual Wholeness

For the next 30 days, we’ll explore low-cost ways to nurture ourselves in each of these key areas. Join me on the journey towards growth and better health through MAPS! This page will serve as a landing page for the series. I’ll add links to the daily topics as our journey progresses.

Nurture Yourself Takeaway #1: It’s ok to take care of yourself. In fact, it’s necessary. 

When we don't #nurture ourselves, we cut ourselves off at the emotional kneecaps. Click To Tweet

The Series

You can find live links to each post in the series by clicking on the link each day.

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16 Comments

  1. In the waiting time of the sale of our home and moving to a new state, I have definitely been a bit neglectful on the taking care of myself. I suppose a new job with lots of new responsibilities didn’t quite help. I am looking forward to caring for me and not feeling selfish about it. Great post Anita. Thank you.
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  2. I’ve been looking forward to your series and now I know it’s going to benefit me greatly. I need to learn these lessons especially now. 😊

  3. Dear Anita, some lessons are just hard to learn, aren’t they? Thank you for your candor and willingness to share this month so we can all be more proactive w b end it comes to self preservation.

  4. Anita, I wish someone had told me about the importance of self care when my children were young. I was so busy I didn’t think I had time for myself. What I didn’t realize then was that by caring for myself I would have been a better caregiver for my children.

    Blessings to you! Love this series you are doing!

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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