I’ve been sick three times in the last two months. Having kids means that you get all the disgusting, body destroying, spirit-crushing germs the world has to offer. Under normal circumstances, adult bodies are equipped well enough to handle these little Petri dishes. However, when we are not rested, stressed, eating improperly or just generally not caring for ourselves we are susceptible to illness. If this past October and November have taught me anything it is that I need to take better care of myself during December. So, this month I will be giving myself the gift an entire month of self-care.
During her Learn. Shift. Grow Women’s Wellness Symposium, Martine Foreman (a true shero of mine!) shared that a couple of years ago, she managed to contract hand, foot, and mouth disease. Her doctor made it clear that this is an illness that plagues children and adults really should not contract it. Her doctor also made it very clear that this was a result of Martine not caring for herself. Well, fast forward a few weeks and the message that Martine shared is hitting close to home.
This latest illness, the one I that is plaguing me as I write this blog post, comes after a brief generic cold and an ear infection that left the hearing in my right ear somewhat diminished. The doctor said the infection itself was going away, but the fluid that was causing the hearing loss would take weeks to clear. Well, fast forward a few weeks ahead and my body hadn’t fully eliminated the fluid that has been causing the ear loss before this cold took over and made it remarkably worse. It was so bad that I missed Thanksgiving with my family, needing to stay home solo and sleep. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday.
My body’s ability to protect, defend and care for itself has diminished. I thought I had been doing a good job caring for myself and setting boundaries to help protect my mental and physical health. When it comes to after-work obligations such as meetings, networking, and events I have made a conscious effort not to schedule any more than two evenings per week. I made a self-care plan that includes rest, exercise and much needed time alone. I even managed to get through Halloween without eating a lot of my son’s candy.
Here’s the thing, I haven’t followed my own plan too much. I have found myself forgoing exercise too because my bed is warm or it’s too late and I’m tired. I have squeezed in one more meeting because ‘I really needed to.’ I haven’t done a great job tracking my daily water intake. More often than I would like to admit, I’ve decided to save the few minutes that it takes to pack my lunch and had to buy something unhealthy. The best-laid plans mean nothing if you do not follow them.
So, what do I do with this knowledge?
I have decided to take December off. There are some very big things happening at work this month so I cannot change how stressful it will be, but I can adjust the rest of my life. Outside of what is already on my calendar, I will not schedule any after work or weekend events for myself. I opt to use that time to adhere strictly to my self-care plan, which includes exercise, introvert-required solo time or quality time with my family. I know this is going to require a lot of self-discipline and getting comfortable saying ‘No.’ I also know that I can either take this small ‘L’ now and choose to take a time-out or take a big ‘L’ later and be forced to take a time-out because of my diminished health. Being the control freak that I am, I decided to make the choice for myself. Honestly, I am looking forward to giving this gift to myself.
Yolanda Jenkins is a wife, mother of 2, and an introverted leader. She can sometimes be found sharing the good, the bad and the ugly on IG @thislibralife.
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