Make Self-Care & Setting Boundaries a Priority

In today’s episode of the Inspiration2Grow podcast we are talking about the necessary self-care every woman needs, now in December especially, and how setting healthy boundaries is a huge part of self-care.

The concept of self-care has evolved quite a bit. It’s not just about finding ways to relax and carving out a bit of ‘me time’ in your daily life – it’s much more than that. Yet, many still see self-care as a luxury such as a day at the spa, retail therapy, going on a retreat, etc., but in today’s show, I’d like to impress upon all of you lovely ladies that self-care needs to be a priority in your life and doesn’t have to cost a cent.

So, what is self-care, really?  It can be defined as the active process of making your body and mind a pleasant place to inhabit by filling your own cup first.  This ensures you have enough to give others.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

The problem I see with women is that they view the act of self-care as something kind of selfish – spending time and efforts on themselves.  Some even go as far as calling it narcissistic behaviour.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, then we really have to flip the script on this attitude.

“Self-care is so much more than a beauty regimen or an external thing you do.” 

Self-care is a conscious act to promote physical, mental and emotional health.  And, sometimes you will need more self-care in one area in order to restore your balance and find relief from a stressor in your life.

Just a few benefits of self-care that you might not have ever considered…

It is important to build resilience toward certain stressors in your life.  It leaves you better equipped to deal with overwhelm, stress and anxiety.  It boosts your self-esteem and confidence. It helps protect your mental health.  It can also foster better relationships with people near and dear to you.  It leads to a healthier lifestyle and ultimately you will lead your best life if you are taking good care of your mind and body.

By now, I hope you are beginning to realize how crucial self-care is and you are willing to prioritize it.

It’s Tangible Tuesday, so I would like to address a few areas of self-care and provide some strategies for you…

1.)    The first and undoubtedly, most important pillar of self-care is living a healthy lifestyle.  By now, you know how much I talk about physical fitness.  BECAUSE IT IS SO VITAL for our lives.  As women, we often put our own wants, needs and demands on the back burner.  We look after everyone else but neglect ourselves.  This has to change in order for you to live a long, healthy life.

In a nutshell, living a healthy lifestyle involves:  eating healthy, nutritious foods, getting adequate sleep and exercising regularly.

I’m going to ask you four questions and I want you to be brutally honest with yourself:

-> Are you getting enough sleep each night?
-> Is your diet fuelling your body well?
-> Are you taking charge of your own health?
-> Are you exercising enough and getting out in the fresh air at least once a day?

If the answer to ANY of these questions is NO, then you should assess the situation and become proactive in doing something about it.

Although they seem like stand-alone questions, they are very closely related to each other.  If you’re exercising enough, then you’re likely able to sleep better at night.  If you are consuming nutritious food rather than junk food or a lot of processed things, you are taking charge of your health and probably your sleep will improve as well.  If you are getting out in the fresh air at least once a day for a walk or run, then your self-esteem gets a boost, and you will likely fuel your body in a more conscious, healthy way. 

Personally, my sleep improved immensely when I started my new exercise routine of gym visits, spinning and swimming 6 days a week.  I don’t do all three activities each day, but on most days I do two of them.  There are also dog walks sprinkled into my daily routine, which gets me out in the fresh air and is truly mood boosting.

It’s like a trifecta of healthy living – eating the right foods, exercising regularly and adequate sleep.  Try to prioritize and implement beneficial habits in all three of these areas for a well-rounded healthy lifestyle.
2.)    Connect (reconnect) and surround yourself with people who lift you up.  You know the ones you can laugh with, share goals and dreams with, the ones who support you wholeheartedly, the ones you feel aligned with, the ones you meet after a long while and it’s like you’ve never been separated from each other. 

I am so blessed to have the same three close friends that I had growing up.  And, even though I lived in Austria, Europe for 25 years, we have re-connected and it’s as if time has stood still and we weren’t separated by the Atlantic Ocean for all those years.  We get together, laugh and reminisce about school days, make plans together and support each other unconditionally.  But we have to make a concerted effort to stay in contact.

It takes time and effort to cultivate and maintain better relationships with these special ones, but it is an essential part of your social well-being. 

We often become too wrapped up in our own lives and neglect these relationships.  So, devote some time (how much is very individual, and this is something you will need to figure out in terms of what works best for you) to arranging face-to-face meetings or if that isn’t possible, make a point of calling this person and giving them your undivided attention for a good chat.

Here are some questions to consider:
~ When was the last time you spent with your best friend?

~ Do you and your spouse/significant other have ways of lifting each other up and connecting during those busy, hectic days?  My suggestion would be leaving little love notes…in a lunch box, on the pillow, in his/her vehicle – to find as a surprise.  Or write a nice card to this person outlining all the things you:  love, appreciate, admire about them and your relationship with them.  It needn’t be costly or complicated – often the small, personal gestures have the most impact.

~ Assess and make a list of the people who lift up you and energize you when you meet.  Try to connect with them over the holidays and spend some quality time with them.  It’s up to you to take that first step.

~ If you think making some new friends is necessary, why not research which local groups you could join that might be a good fit for you and your interests.
Since joining our new gym, I have met some wonderful, like-minded ladies.  One of them invited my husband and I to join her and her husband for a ‘drink’ some months back.  Slowly, but surely it is blossoming into a nice friendship.  Because we have similar interests is staying fit, we decided to plan a triathlon next summer involving: kayaking, hiking and biking.  So, even though you might think it is difficult to meet friends at an advanced age, I’m here to tell you it is totally possible.

One other thing I did to meet new people was start a book club.  We had moved to a new area up north and I was interested in getting to know more local ladies, so I put up some ads and before I knew it, we had formed a small group of women who wanted a social gathering with a focus on reading and discovering new authors’ books each month. New friendships were solidified and the rest is history.  There are so many ways of putting yourself out there to meet new people; just take the plunge and see what works best for you.
3.)    The ultimate act of self-care is to set clear boundaries for yourself and others.  This sounds so easy but is one of the toughest things to do.  I think we are afraid of offending others by setting boundaries.  Done in a diplomatic, respectful way will not leave friends or family feeling hurt. Just a word of advice, they might not understand this new shift or change you’d like to implement.  Be prepared for some push-back but also be prepared to stand your ground on these new boundaries.

Essentially, boundaries are statements of intent put in place by you to protect you from conflicting demands that may arise in daily life.

“Boundaries are like an invisible force field that protect you from the choppy waters of life.”

They can be seen as a set of strategies or intentional decisions YOU make about your life, what you let in and what you keep out.

Have you ever felt forced to do something you really didn’t want to?  I know I have.  This goes back to the days when I used to be an incurable people pleaser and a person who couldn’t say NO.  Because of this, I found myself in many situations I hated being in and my workload got completely out of control.  This led to a serious bout of burnout.  That’s when I started setting more boundaries to protect myself – both physically and mentally.

I’m sure most of you can relate to taking on too much, your plate is too full, no time for yourself and feelings of anger and regret surface.

A remedy for this is setting personal boundaries. They help us stay on track and avoid distraction from things which are not important in your life.  And, they stop you from saying YES when you would rather say no.

For example, you might set a boundary around drinking less or no alcohol at a get-together or work function.  You’ll need a strategy or a ‘line’ to say when offered a drink.  And, in certain situations, there may be pressure to do as the others are doing.  You can have a comeback ready such as, “Thanks for offering but I’m afraid alcohol doesn’t align with my health goals right now.”

Another example we all have to deal with particularly during the festive season or birthday parties is setting boundaries around eating certain foods and sweets.  I know, in the past, it has been difficult for me to decline offers of great food and desserts. I felt like I was letting them down or they would be somehow offended if I didn’t eat their goodies.  But once I politely declined and stuck to my goals of not consuming sugar, nothing happened.  No one was insulted.  The party went on and I felt good about myself.

So, when it comes to protecting your healthy lifestyle, set those boundaries up to be in line with your health goals.  Have a sentence on hand to politely say ‘no thank you’.

If spending money is an issue for you, you might set a boundary around spending money more intentionally and only if you REALLY want to.  A strategy could be to jump right off your favourite internet shopping site the next time you find yourself scrolling through items.

Boundaries set your expectations for yourself as much as what you expect from other people. 

* Who are you going to spend time with that lights you up and supports your life?

Setting boundaries with friends can seem difficult.  So here’s a tip to consider:

Talk and be open with your friend.  Explain why you’re setting boundaries with your friend(s) before making them active.  Show respect and let them know what’s bothering you.  Take the time to articulate why you feel the boundaries are necessary and perhaps even ask their opinion on the matter.

This tactic would also work for any workplace or co-worker boundaries you may feel like setting.  If you approach this with respect and openness for the other person, you will receive a much better response than being harsh or abrupt.

Remember… “Boundaries protect the things that are of value to you.  They keep you in alignment with what you have decided you want in life.  That means the key to good boundaries is knowing what you want.”

So, I encourage you to make a list of some personal boundaries you’d like to implement.  And, include the ideas you’d like to plan into your day regarding the healthy living aspect too.

Here’s my list as an example.

For me, self-care means…

-> Nutrition is a priority; fuelling my body to perform well is a non-negotiable
-> Eliminate all processed food and sugar (95% of the time)
-> Daily movement and workouts
-> Abstaining from alcohol 99% of the time
-> Consuming LOTS of water
-> Getting to bed early
-> Rise and shine at 5:30 am to mentally prepare myself for the day
-> Setting my intentions for the day first thing in the morning
-> Fuelling my brain with books rather than TV
-> Spending quality time with people that are aligned with my goals

Maybe you like the sounds of one or more of these.  Why don’t you adopt your favourite?

So, that’s a wrap on Tangible Tuesday’s necessary self-care talk. 

I truly hope to have inspired you to grow.

In case you haven’t heard this from anyone yet today, let me be the first one to tell you…
You are amazing and full of potential. I encourage you to implement some self-care TODAY, because you are sooooo worth it and deserving.  Now, go out there and show the world what you are truly made of.

Til next time,

Lisa xoxo



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