I am so excited to welcome a special guest post today from Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW. Julie is a licensed therapist, self-care evangelist, media personality, owner of Wasatch Family Therapy, and author of The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide For Overwhelmed Women. Her brand new book is available on August 6th! 

Julie is here today to take on a HUGE Motherhood Myth: Taking good care of myself is selfish.

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timthumbMyth: Taking good care of myself is selfish
Truth: Taking care of myself is smart and necessary for a selfless life.

About ten years ago I received a letter from a young mom named Kim, who had attended one of my “Preventing Emotional Burnout” workshops earlier that year. As a new mother with two girls—a newborn and an eighteen-month-old—she was in survival mode, feeling physically weak, spiritually lost, and emotionally depleted. She said, “I was taking care of my kids and husband but I wasn’t really taking care of myself.”

During that particular workshop I shared that I’d recently accomplished a personal goal of running a marathon. As I talked about my experience, Kim felt impressed to listen. Feeling inspired to take better care of herself, she decided that she too wanted to train for a marathon, and she felt that this goal was about much more than physical fitness. Kim said, “When I started out, I had no idea what an amazing process it would be for me.” She completed her first marathon and sent me a card. She also wrote about what she had gained from taking responsibility for her happiness:
I feel more confident in my body. I’m healthier. My marriage improved as my husband supported me in my training. When I come back after running, I’m more excited to be with my girls, and I’m more patient with them because I’m taking better care of me. Spiritually, I’ve rediscovered my testimony along the way. I remember running in silence and feeling the Spirit, watching the sunrise. I’m closer to God because I pray while running alone. I invited my sisters to run with me, and through our training we became best friends, sharing our hearts, the ups and downs of family life, sometimes running with tears streaming down our faces.

In addition to taking better care of herself, Kim learned that she could do hard things, even through obstacles like a knee injury! This self-confidence has helped her to continue to prioritize taking good care of herself. She did something about the fact that she was feeling blah about her life. She didn’t wait for her children to grow up to make her feel better. She didn’t wait for her husband to rescue her from her emptiness and dissatisfaction with life. Kim’s experience illustrates how taking responsibility for your own happiness is actually a gift to yourself and your loved ones and can bring you closer to Heavenly Father.

I realize that not everyone wants to, is able to, or will ever run a marathon. For most of us, just living life is marathon enough. The point is not to pick up competitive running as a physical pursuit, but to realize that there are important things each of us can do for ourselves. If the running shoes don’t work for you, adapt the concept to something that does work in your life: hiking shoes, swimming goggles, a yoga pose, or your favorite book if reading it more will help you be healthier and bring greater joy.

If you don’t take good care of yourself, who will? Taking better care of you is actually a gift to your family because there will be more of you to give to them.

What’s one thing you can do to take better care of you? 


(Excerpt from The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide For Overwhelmed Women)