As a military wife, there will be times you feel like you are always putting others first. You take care of your family, home, and husband—and unfortunately, it often feels like it needs to be at the expense of taking care of yourself. As women, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure everyone around us is okay, happy, and thriving when we’re merely surviving. I’m a 15-year (and counting) military wife and mom, and I’m here to tell you that it’s time to learn how to make yourself a priority. It isn’t just nice; it’s necessary.
It won’t just feel good; it will transform your days. It will improve your relationship with your spouse and kids. It will make your entire life better. If you find that you quickly become overwhelmed and burned out by the daily tasks of being a military wife and mom, keep reading to learn how to make yourself a priority starting now!
How Do You Love and Prioritize Yourself?
Self-care. But not in the typical “take a bubble bath and read a book” kind of way. Those are just actions. True self-care begins in your mind. Learning how to make yourself a priority starts by adjusting your thinking so you can treat yourself well, speak to yourself kindly, and love yourself more.
Is It Selfish to Prioritize Yourself?
Not. At. All. When you prioritize yourself, you aren’t the only one who benefits. Your husband benefits when you feel happy, whole, secure, and confident all on your own. You kids benefit when you feel calm and patient, even when life is hectic. Your friends benefit when you feel like you have something to give to the relationship. Your employer benefits when you feel motivated and empowered. Everyone in your life benefits when you learn how to make yourself a priority, so it’s definitely not selfish. So, how do you do it? Let’s dive right in.
How to Make Yourself a Priority and Practice True Self-Care
When I ask my clients to describe what self-care is, almost all of them say something to the effect of taking a bubble bath, reading a book, or having a cup of tea. And while those are wonderful self-care actions–they’re rewarding, enjoyable, healing, and productive–they don’t get to the core of self-care.
To me, true self-care is…
- Being with yourself and rediscovering who you are.
- Creating a safe atmosphere in your brain.
- Having your own back and being kind to yourself.
It’s easier to learn how to prioritize yourself when you start thinking about self-care as a mindset rather than an action. When self-care becomes a mindset, you feel better in a lasting way. And you still get to do the fun self-care actions you love; they just happen more easily and organically.
Self-Care Actions are Never Enough to Prioritize Yourself Well
Self-care activities are great, but they are never enough. They are simply the frosting on top of the cupcake. And without a cupcake, frosting doesn’t last very long, and it doesn’t even taste that good. So, what’s the cupcake? It’s true self-care.
Most of us typically take an action to feel a certain way. For example, we go on a walk (action) to calm down when we’re frustrated (feeling). We try to use self-care actions to feel better. The problem is it’s typically only temporary relief from the frustration. Once the activity is over, we go back to feeling frustrated…or overwhelmed…or anxious…or unimportant, etc. The relief is only temporary because self-care activities without looking at our mindset are usually just a distraction. When the distraction is over, the negative thinking and the negative feelings come right back.
Instead, we need to learn how to create a feeling by adjusting our thoughts first and THEN taking action to support that feeling. For example, we spend time thinking about how much we matter to our spouse or family. Then our awesome brain will automatically go to work building evidence to prove true what we are spending time thinking–remembering the great conversations we had with our kids during dinner or the random day last week our husband sent us our favorite flowers. We are now feeling important and prioritized. Then, when we take a self-care action from that place, it supports what we’re already feeling, making it more enjoyable and long-lasting.
But Self-Care Thoughts then Actions Make You Unstoppable
It’s amazing how much changes when you realize your thoughts cause most–if not all–of your negative feelings. Your thoughts overwhelm you. Your thoughts make you feel bad about yourself. Your thoughts tell you that you don’t matter and aren’t a priority. When you learn how to manage your thoughts, you start prioritizing and caring for yourself in new ways. When you clean up how you think about your life, your life becomes less exhausting. Then self-care activities become a fun and enjoyable extension of good things rather than a temporary relief from all the bad. Your thoughts are the cupcake; self-care actions are just the frosting on top!
What to Do When Frosting is Out of the Budget
When we believe our actions determine our feelings, we’re kind of screwed if we don’t have time or money for the self-care activities we think are the answer to feeling better. If you can only feel good when you can regularly spend an evening away from home, but your husband is deployed, and babysitters are expensive or unavailable, you’re stuck and can’t feel good that week. Yikes!
I have the best news for you! Learning how to prioritize yourself and practice self-care with your thoughts means you can have an amazing week, even when you don’t have the time or money to do a self-care activity. Your mind is always available to you to help you feel good, no matter your circumstances. Prioritizing yourself means improving your relationship with yourself and cleaning up the environment in your mind (your thoughts), so you can feel good whenever you want.
Because the truth is, we all have seasons where the frosting simply isn’t an easy option. Whether your husband is deployed, and all of your time goes to caring for your house and kids. Or the budget is tight, and you can’t splurge on expensive dinners or spa appointments. Or your best friend is out of town, so wine nights are a no-go. Whatever the case, you won’t always be able to do tons of self-care activities. But when self-care starts in your mind–and actions are just the frosting on top–you can still enjoy a delicious cupcake. You can still prioritize and care for yourself.
Want to dive into this topic more? Listen to Episode 86 – True Self Care on the Simply Resilient Podcast.