She shows incredible self-restraint to things that normally she wouldn’t think twice about doing, even if they were not the best for her physical or mental health. She takes more cautions on the spiritual realm as well. The music she listens to, what she sees, where she goes, what she hears.
She’s forced to listen to her body and respect those limits more. The exhaustion signals her to lie down and she does. The back not to carry and she puts that weight down.
Well, there is something about being pregnant and the responsibility of that baby. She’s not sure where she ends and where the baby’s body begins. They are two entities, but fused together. She tells herself, “I’m doing this for my baby.”
She is and that is beautiful, but why does that taking care of oneself seem to end there?
Ironically self-care isn’t only about one self. It’s certainly not about putting everyone on hold so that I can pamper myself. It has nothing to do with a spa or a vacation or disconnecting from the world and that only you exist. Self-care is yes, the literal act of caring for one’s self because this is an essential component, it’s the basis, the prerequisite for taking care of anyone else. First you must have a sense of “self” and then you can care for others.
As women we have this tendency, and I must say that it’s beautiful, the desire, to want to nurture and take care. HaKadosh Baruchu created us for such a purpose. The womb has the potential to nurture and care for another human being. In Hebrew the word for womb, רחם is related to the word רחמים, mercy. With mercy the woman literally houses another soul for the duration of the pregnancy. The breasts, the potential to produce the perfect food for an infant, a baby. But again, if a woman doesn’t take care of herself, nurture herself, mother herself, feed herself, then the power to do what she was created to do will be drained from her.
Here we are and it’s that busy time of the year. The calendar days fly, the what to do list is long and the pressure surmounts. The first thing to go is “me.” It’s the time when eating healthy is put to the side. When there is no time to exercise or listen to a shiur. When you say, “After the holidays I will get back into…” Or “After the holidays I will start to…” But this is actually the time when self-care is most needed.
It’s of course being realistic. You try to juggle to many balls and you end up dropping them all. What can you do? First, readjust your mindset. As Hillel the great sage taught, "He [also] used to say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? But if I am for my own self [only], what am I? And if not now, when (Pirke Avot 1:14)?” Tell yourself that I need to take care of myself so that I can take care of those around me.
Technically set yourself up and make obtainable goals. It’s not the time to start your dream project or take on tasks that will be too great to bear. Our sages say, “If you grasped many, you did not grasp anything; if you grasped few, you grasped something (Talmud Chagigah 17a).” While taking an hour aerobics class might not be realistic, going for a quick 10- or 15-minute walk is something that you can fit in at some point in your day and do. Turning off the phone at night and not answering texts or calls after 10pm is also something that you can do. The majority of things can wait until the morning. Eating a yogurt, an egg, a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts is a healthy snack and something that you can do. Putting on a class to inspire and feed your soul as you clean or cook is something that you can do. Taking a few moments to close your eyes and roll your shoulders and just breathe the breath of life is also something that you can.
Again, it’s not all or nothing. It’s creating a space for yourself to exist so that you can recharge, expand and have more energy and strength to do what it is that you want and have to do. It’s entering the holidays with joy and vigor and it’s possible for all of us to do.