What if I said that taking care of yourself has a lot in common with Neapolitan ice cream?
You might say “No way!” right?
Right. And especially, if you’re an ice cream lover like me!
Well, think about the three layers of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry goodness when you first open up a container of Neapolitan ice cream. All three flavors are side by side. And each flavor adds its own special mark to what we know as Neapolitan ice cream.
Take out the vanilla, and well, it’s just not Neapolitan ice cream anymore.
It’s the same when it comes to self-care. Mindfulness, self-compassion, and sleep are three essential layers of self-care. And just like our beloved Neapolitan ice cream, you need the trio of layers to savor a heaping scoop of self-care.
Hold Your Experience with Love
Let’s take a look at mindfulness first. Tara Brach, author, psychologist, and meditation teacher says, “mindfulness is learning to recognize what is true in the present moment and embracing whatever we see with an open heart.”
Take a moment to consider what that would mean for you. It’s essentially naming what is true and holding your experience with love.
You’re annoyed when your spouse or partner doesn’t come home on time and you’re feeling overwhelmed with the kiddos and their shenanigans. Not to mention the house is destroyed and you’re hanging on to the last thread of your energy and sanity.
Mindfulness gives you the space to name what’s going on in your experience. Irritated. Exhausted. Frustrated. Lousy.
Rather than trying to talk yourself out of why you shouldn’t have those feelings, or telling yourself “Come on, pull it together;” you give yourself the room to gently hold yourself, your feelings, and your experience.
Can You See the Light?
Believe it or not, the second layer, is about friendship. As mothers, we know how to nurture. And as nurturers, we know all about being a good friend. We offer love and support to our girlfriends like nobody’s business as we lend our shoulder to cry on and accept our dearest friends without judgment, but we’re often hesitant to treat ourselves with the same unconditional care.
By remembering your true goodness and acknowledging the light within, you can be your own best friend.
If you beat yourself up because you raised your voice with your child, take a step back to first name the feelings of disappointment or shame. Then, gently remind yourself that you’re imperfect and that making mistakes is a part of life and being a mom. And in that space maybe you also acknowledge that your frustration with your child stems from your exhaustion and lack of sleep.
Refuse to Run on an Empty Tank
And speaking of sleep, we have our third and final layer of self-care: sweet, beautiful rest.
There’s good reason why getting decent rest each night is vital to our sanity. Chronic sleep deprivation has been known to impact mood, motivation, memory, and countless other bodily functions that moms need to do their best.
We all know what it’s like to drag around all day after a horrible night with a feverish child. Or trying to function after several sleepless nights with a newborn. It’s dreadful!
Sleep restores us so that we can have the optimal energy for the park visits, temper tantrums, tickle fights, food protests, sick kids, and couch-cushion-fort-building.
So often work and our devotion to it takes precedence and rest gets sacrificed and pushed to the back burner. We actually believe that going to bed early or napping is a sign of weakness, a cop out, or just not that important.
Give yourself permission to create the daily habit of being in bed on time to get your 7-9 hours of solid rest.
We all have our own sleep needs. Whether you can get away with seven or need all nine (I need all 8-9 of ’em or it’s a wrap!), it’s important to invest in your rest and put it back on top of your priority list. The laundry or the latest episode of Scandal can actually wait.
Well, there you have it…the self-care trinity. Each one – mindfulness, being your own best friend, and rest – adds its own unique flavor to the mix of caring for yourself. When you remove sleep from the layers, mindfulness and befriending yourself just don’t have the same impact. Likewise when you attempt to remove any of the others.
So, the next time you’re wading through burnout or exhaustion, or your inner critic is in overdrive, remember the three Neapolitan ice cream flavors of self-care and begin to respond with gentle loving care.
If you’re struggling to find joy in your life, or need help moving forward, know that you don’t have to walk the journey alone. Contact me for a private consultation.