005 | How to Prioritize Self-Care When You Don’t Want to Slow Down

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Do you remember how you felt 100 years ago when the lock downs were announced? 

That moment was already over 6 months ago and it truly feels like a lifetime at this point.

I’m in Washington State, so we had the experience of the first patient in the United States and conversation was all over the place about what was actually happening. Based on what I’d been hearing, it felt like we were in the most immediate path to a shutdown. 

I tend to stay away from the mainstream news so my information was mostly local and direct from friends and family in other states. Plus, of course, I already knew about what was happening globally.

So that Thursday, March 12th, I emailed my manager in my day job with a “heads up, pretty sure we’re going on lockdown” message. At that point, I had no idea how quickly everything would spiral from coast-to-coast.

The schools in our area shutdown but our daycare was allowed to stay open. It wasn’t until my husband’s job went 100% remote … a job that isn’t one that can truly function on a remote basis … when my eyes opened and I realized how widespread and important this whole thing was. Denial much?

That was Wednesday, March 18th. While the daycare stayed open, we opted to do a 14 day strict quarantine, as most people did in March.

To be honest, I was mildly excited about all the extra fun little projects I’d get to do with the kids. I ordered a couple extra at-home learning tools and geared up to navigate the new schedule with my at-home husband.

This is the kind of thing I was MADE FOR.

Or was I?

Within days of that first day of quarantine, I became exhausted and nauseous with the worst headache. There was no fever or cough, but I can’t say I wasn’t on Google looking up all the other symptoms wondering if I was experiencing an alternative case of you-know-what.

I couldn’t stay awake all day. Naps in the middle of the day were the only thing that kept me even remotely sane.

All of that lasted a full 2.5 weeks in full force, then tapered down to mostly just exhaustion. 

I visited my naturopath for bloodwork and she also recommended a few different supplements and a SIBO test, which basically tests for bacterial overgrowth that causes gut issues.

SIBO tested positive, but it didn’t explain the violence of my 2.5 week sickness. I treated the SIBO regardless and my gut is now much happier!

But something else was also positive.

A brand new, and terribly timed, infection of Epstein-Barr Virus.

Epstein-Barr is the virus that causes mono, in case you didn’t know that.

Yes. I had mono. During a pandemic quarantine.

Contact tracing suggests it was from kissing my slobbery little 1 year old.

So fast forward to the end of summer after treatment with antivirals and other supplements, rest, and low-stress activity … when the fires broke out in the Pacific Northwest alongside a large project at my day job kicking off AND my first big online business promotion for which I didn’t quite prepare for the way I had planned … basically, all the things … and I was exhausted again.

No amount of productivity expertise and systems can account for all of that stress piling on at once behind a virus that absolutely sticks around and pounces like a leopard when the door opens. And I unintentionally let the door open again.

And yes, I retested and confirmed that my resident Epstein-Barr virus is still alive and well. 

Whether the virus was around for the entire 6 months, shrinking with each passing day, or if it came out of hibernation so soon due to the stress, it’s become very clear that I need to be crystal clear about how I’m caring for myself in this unique season of “pandemic with a side of mono.”

What’s absolutely wild is that I know more than 5 friends who have reactivated or a brand new exposure to this virus!

So before I begin to walk you through some ways to clear my mind and take care of myself to beat this crazy virus for the long-haul, if you’re feeling more exhausted than the average expectation for this season, I highly recommend getting tested for Epstein-Barr Virus reactivation. 

Naturopathic doctors are far more likely to volunteer this for you, but it’s a test that any doctor should order if you ask.

There’s no “official” treatment for this virus, but your doctor may be able to recommend some antiviral herbs as mine has.

And even if you know already that you’re not experiencing anything more than general overwhelm and stress, this episode is most definitely for you, too.

We can ALL stand to bump the self-care focus up a notch and bring clarity, peace, and calm to our daily lives.

So let’s dive right into it, my friend.

What is a Self-Care Plan and What is it NOT?

In the busyness of life, it’s terribly easy to forget or just plain ignore the concept of “self-care.”

In the swirl of daily responsibilities – cooking meals, keeping kids alive, showing up to your day job, and maybe relaxing for 5 seconds in between – self-care may feel like a mountain you just don’t have enough time to climb.

And it’s not only about taking action to prioritize self-care. It’s about slowing down long enough to even begin to think about it. I can’t even tell you how many days I feel like I’m just running on autopilot.

We all sleep, even if not for the ideal length. 

We all brush our teeth. 

We all do the standard “self-care” activities.

I may not shower until late afternoon most days, but I still shower!

That’s just hygiene though. It really isn’t “self-care” in the sense that I’m talking about here today.

The self-care I’m referring to in this episode is the kind that fills your cup and feels like a treat. A legitimate break from the day-to-day.

It’s the “unnecessary,” but highly effective, stuff that we always seem to deprioritize when life gets crazy. But it’s the really good stuff that when we actually commit to it, we end up showing up as better wives, mamas, and friends. 

So calling it unnecessary is probably not fair. We just treat it that way.

And in this season of 2020, these are the things we simply must prioritize if we have any hope of getting outta here intact.

I’d venture to say that these items are critical under ALL circumstances in motherhood. Pandemic or not. 

“I Don’t Have Time For Self-Care Right Now. I Really Just Need to Be More Productive First.”

I’ve asked my crew here a few times why they want to be more productive. If you have an answer to that, I’d love to hear it in the comments below. 

But one answer I’ve heard, time and time again, is that they want to be more productive so that they can fit more time in for self-care.

When I read that reply, I think, “Mama! You have to invest in yourself first before any level of productivity can be achieved.” This is exactly the episode I’m gonna point these mamas to in the future.

How many times does this thought course through your own inner monologue?

What about these?

“I sure wish I had more time for me.” 

“Dang, if only I had more time for self-care, then I wouldn’t be so frustrated with everything all the time.”

These questions become self-fulfilling prophecies as you literally beat yourself up every single time you think about it. 

Can you see how if your mind isn’t clear from this type of narrative, productivity isn’t truly achievable?

If you’re focused on what you aren’t doing, can you really be focused on the task at hand to get closer to the action you really want to do?

What if you just put yourself first? What if you gave yourself a break to fill your cup so you could fully invest in all the other tasks you need to focus on to accomplish without frustration, delay and overwhelm?

Do you think you’d feel more productive if your mind was clear and focused, knowing you’d invested in yourself already and had another self-care checkpoint scheduled in the future? 

Hopefully you’re nodding your head right now, because the answer should be “absolutely, yes!”

Investing in filling your cup, in your self-care, means freeing yourself of the thoughts and frustrations that otherwise fill your mind and fracture your pursuit of productivity.

Does that make sense?

Here are Some Ideas to Consider in Your Self-Care Plan

At the end of the day, what makes me happy and fulfilled might not do the same for you. There are so many ways to fill our cups on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, so knowing where YOU feel best is the first step towards achieving a sense of calm and clarity.

In Camp Clarity, my free 5-day audio & workbook training, I walk you through 5 important pillars of productivity that WILL get you to a point where you can prioritize your chosen self-care plan. If this feels like something you’d like to dive into, enroll right here!

And in the meantime, here are some ideas to spark your creativity and help you design a self-care plan that’ll truly fill your cup.

Be sure to let me know which one resonates the most with you by leaving a comment below.

The first, and my favorite one, is to Create a Happy, Cozy Home

Since we’re home so much more often these days, you simply must create an environment that brings peace to everyone. 

This may involve decluttering, turning over seasonal decorations, freshening up your linens, or changing color palettes. 

It may also involve shoving a bunch of this stuff into the garage to be dealt with later, just to get it out of your view. That’s a-OK, my friend!

A good friend of mine is currently filling her cup in this way by going all-in, even taking an online course to guide her, and I know it’s really helping to make her feel encouraged this season. 

I’m taking a more simplified approach and just focusing on turning over our decor into a fall palette of oranges and reds. My number one favorite way to shift seasons is to change our colors. 

Myquillin Smith is my favorite leading lady for all things happy and cozy home. While I haven’t gotten her latest book yet, I have The Nesting Place and Cozy Minimalist Home and they bring me such joy when it comes to my home.

In the past, I’ve enjoyed setting goals to update one thing around the home per week. Hang a shelf and style it, declutter one room, etc. Don’t try to overcommit yourself just to create a happy home! Small changes, big results, my friend!

The next way to increase your self-care time is to Try Something New That Requires Your Hands.

Something that’s 100% not a high-priority demand on your time, but one that you’ll absolutely make time for in your schedule.

Some ideas for this include playing around with watercolors, learning hand-lettering, painting a thrifted piece of furniture, trying a cute cross-stitch project, or anything else your heart desires!

When life gets extra stressful and I feel the need to reset, I often go into a project that requires only my hands. There’s something about creating something tangible, not with my knowledge, writing or speaking voice, but with my creative side, that really rests my mind and fills my cup. 

What about you? What types of activities in this category might you be interested in trying out?

My third favorite self-care plan category is a little more traditional … Indulge in A Spa & Detox Routine.

I actually don’t recommend the kind of spa day that has you spending hundreds of dollars and possibly regretting the overspend. It’s important to treat responsible spending of our hard earned money as self-care too. 

What I do mean in this category is a simple & ongoing spa and detox routine that supports higher levels of confidence, calm and clarity.

My friend Hannah, who writes at Soul Mind Body Selfcare and hosts a podcast called the Selfcare Sessions, is such a great leader on this topic. 

Not only does she always prioritize self-care across her entire life, but she really nails this detoxing topic and is the one who encouraged me first to pursue a naturopathic doctor vs. traditional. She lives as toxin-free as possible, makes thoughtful decisions about her home products and has a great detox routine, among other things.

For me, this is my weakest category. I feel amazing when I put effort into things like dry brushing, reducing EMFs, taking the right supplements, and soaking in an epsom salt detox bath regularly, but I’m way too much of a busy-bee to slow down sometimes.

Knowing my propensity to avoid slowing down, it’s no surprise that my Epstein-Barr virus remains. 

So while I’m planning a little cup filling time in the first 2 categories, this 3rd one is where I really need to focus.

I’ve drawn up a daily sleep, supplement, and detox plan. I’m even trying a few random new things and I’m sure I’ll tell you about them if they change how I feel long term.

I’ve got big goals to accomplish in the next few months – over a year in the making – so kicking this virus and showing up with consistent energy is super important. 

So What’s Next?

Mama, take what you need, leave what you don’t. What will fill your cup the most this week?

At the end of the day, we’re all responsible for our own health. The way we show up in the world is a direct result of our decisions for where we put our time and energy.

If you’re wondering how you’re supposed to do any of this when you already barely have time to sleep, the answer might be to enlist some help. Whether from your husband, a friend, a family member or even a hired babysitter, if you’re struggling, it’s time to find a way to lessen your burden.

And if you feel ready to take action today to step into prioritizing yourself, then it’s a great day to enroll in Camp Clarity: Your Productivity Jump Start Plan to Save You At Least 2 Hours Per Week. 

In this short free training spread over 5-days, you’ll learn how to increase your productivity in a holistic way through my 5 Pillars of Productivity.

Have a cup filling, beautiful day, my friend!

Don’t forget to hit “subscribe” on Apple or Spotify Podcasts.

xo, Jessica

productivity for working moms

welcome!

I'm Jessica!

I used to glorify "busy." If I wasn't busy, I wasn't doing enough. But when I became a mama, my entire outlook shifted.

 

The only way out involved a complete overhaul of my time, money & communication systems.

 

Today, I'm doing LESS and achieving more.

It's a productivity dream!

I'm still learning (and always will be!), but my purpose here is to help YOU achieve this level of space in your life too.

 

So grab your (hot) coffee & read on >>

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