While many of us think of “love” simply as a feeling—and one that happens involuntarily, without our having to do much—I have a different take. To me, love is not just an emotion, but also a practice: the act of showing up regularly for the most important people in my life.

If you’re like most of us you probably think first of your spouse, kids, and maybe extended family and friends when considering those important people to whom you show love.

But in all the chaos of family life, it’s crucial that we make sure our own needs—and yes, some of our wants!—are met, too.  So when it comes to increasing love in our lives, we’re going to work from the inside-out, starting with loving ourselves.

Loving yourself well means building a foundation of health, happiness and wholeness that benefits every single person in your family. And no matter where you are on your journey, you can start finding ways to care for yourself today.

Let’s start by naming three distinct areas where you can start to invest in yourself this month, and then brainstorm simple, doable ways to add more love in your inner life.

Love Your Body

One of the most common disconnects I see among fellow moms is the tendency to bend over backward to feed our families wholesome, organic diets while fueling our own bodies with caffeine or sugar. We put a ton of effort into making sure our children get enough sleep or exercise, but often skimp on it ourselves.

Sound familiar? This month, I’d like you to focus on showing your body the same kind of care as you give your kids.

Love Your Brain

One thing that amazed me when I became a mother 17 years ago was the way my brain quickly made room for seemingly endless amounts of information on everything from feeding, babywearing, and diapering to the best car seat brands and parenting books.

That said, things that had once meant a lot to me, like books, music, and world events took a serious backseat to baby-related knowledge, and pretty soon I felt like a walking parenting encyclopedia rather than a well-rounded human being.

Hey, it’s normal! But at some point we’re all ready to emerge from the baby fog and challenge our brains again.

Love Your Soul

We are all more than just flesh, blood, and brain synapses, and taking some time to focus on our emotional and spiritual health is a really important way to love ourselves well.

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This month, I’d like you to identify three ways that you can show your self some love:

  • A small, daily change. This should be something very manageable and doable that you can slowly build on over time. For example, if you wake up groggy every morning, try going to bed five minutes earlier. If you’ve been feeling stressed, maybe five minutes for daily devotions or a meditation practice would help calm and center you. After this small change starts to feel like second nature, you can add on—but keep make changes in tiny increments so you don’t overwhelm yourself from the get-go.
  • A bigger, once-weekly activity. This could be anything from a Saturday morning power walk or an epic veggie-prepping session on Sunday afternoon to stock the fridge with healthy snacks for the week, to a weekly book club, Bible study, or music lesson. The point is to set aside 1-2 hours each week in a routine, scheduled way to focus on your body, your brain, or your soul.
  • A one-time event. When was the last time you saw your dentist or gynecologist? Does your lack of life insurance or a will keep you up at night? Maybe you’ve just been yearning to go see a concert or take an overnight trip with your spouse but haven’t been able to pull the details together. This month, just focus on ONE event, whether it’s related to your physical, mental, or spiritual health. Make the appointment or buy the tickets, get it on the calendar, and commit!

“Sounds great, but…”

If this is your reaction to my challenge above, I totally hear you. We all wear a lot of hats, and sometimes adding even one more thing can feel exhausting, not to mention logistically impossible.

So if my advice sounds like a great idea in theory but you can’t imagine how to make it work in practice, take a big, deep breath, and let’s work through obstacles.

  • Are limited time or money making “extracurriculars” difficult? Consider free ways to invest in yourself if you can’t sign up for a course or join a gym right now. Remember that just because something isn’t ideal, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count!
  • Do you lack the child care or family support you need to pursue activities outside of the home? First, I would like to gently encourage you to discuss your needs with your spouse, or if you’re not partnered, work on setting up a support system that allows you some much-needed time to focus on yourself, like a child-care swap with a friend. In the meantime, explore options that don’t take you outside of your home, like taking an online course or workshop.
  • Are you generally overwhelmed by life? We’ve all been there! If you can only manage one of the above right now, start with the small daily change and see how it goes. In a month or so, when you’re feeling more confident, you can consider adding on a weekly activity.

Above all: remember that you are worthy of love, and one of the best ways to both know and show that is by first loving yourself well.

And best yet? Everyone around you will benefit from having a healthier, happier, more energetic mother, wife, or friend. So if you’re having a hard time doing it for yourself, do it for the other important people in your life!

ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS

  1. How do you feel about your body? Has this changed with time? What is one thing you like about your body?
  2. When was the last time you learned something new just because you were interested in it? {We’ll talk about this one more in September!} What is something you’d love to learn to do or learn more about?
  3. How do you care for your soul? Do you consider your emotional and spiritual needs on a regular basis?
  4. What small daily change will you make this month?
  5. What activity will you make time for each week?
  6. What one-time event can you start making plans for today?

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