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Self Neglect was the Root of All My Problems, and It’s Likely Yours Too

Many women neglect themselves because they have big hearts and not enough love for themselves. It’s pretty common for women in general, but there’s a tendency for Generation X and older to do this because that was considered “normal” feminine behavior. The biggest challenge these women face is realizing that they are worthy of self care, and that it’s absolutely necessary if they want to keep on giving to the people they care about most.


Self Care Ideas for Women

I know this well because I’m a Gen-X woman who used to believe that my worth was based on how much I could give to other people and get them to like me.


Recognizing Self Neglect

My mother is a self-professed giver. She’ll give you her last crumb of food even though she’s passing out from starvation herself. People really love my mom for this, as do I, but at some point it gets ridiculous. Like the time my mom spent nearly $300 and stayed up all night to make centerpieces for a church function simply because she was afraid they wouldn’t “like” her anymore if she didn’t make them “perfect,” (and they ended up not using the centerpieces because they were too big). This was my model for being a woman, someone who will give and give until there’s nothing left.


It first manifested for me when I was in my 30s and had a high-stress job. As a trade show marketing manager for a software company, I was responsible for pulling off nearly 40 flawless events a year within an annual $1 million budget (talk about pressure). One time a $60K audio/visual set-up wasn’t working one hour before show time, and my megalomaniac CEO ripped me a new one in front of my co-workers after I had been working for 12 hours straight with little sleep and even less food. Later that night I had the mother of all panic attacks that made me realize I couldn’t do that job any more.


But situations like that kept happening to me as I tried to over-deliver and under-nourish myself at work, as a daughter, as a mother, and as a wife.


When I turned 50, my body began to yell at me from overworking: migraines, digestive issues, severe sciatica, poor sleep, agitation, and weight gain.


It finally took a global pandemic for me to realize that I had to change how I was living my life if I wanted to be around for my family longer than a few years into the future.


Taking Care of Yourself

The first thing I did was quit my job as a marketing content manager in the corporate world. I hadn’t migrated too far from that job I had when I was in my 30s because all my experience and connections were in a productivity, hustle-based industry. While this was a healthy thing for me to do, it was damn scary because I still had to figure out a way to earn a living…at 50+ years old, during a pandemic.


But I felt a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I decided to go back to my yoga (I had practiced on-and-off for nearly 20 years) and become a yoga instructor so I signed up for a 200-hour yoga alliance training. To my surprise, there was an area of study called “Yoga for Healthy Aging,” that was exactly what I needed at the age of 52. This gentler practice focuses on building and maintaining flexibility, strength, agility, and equanimity as you age.


Then I found a holistic nutrition certification program and began to adopt a plant-based diet. I also took a meditation teacher certification training. And it all started to come together. The more I practiced yoga, healthy eating, and meditation, the more at ease I became with whatever was happening…even if people didn’t like me or what I wasn’t doing for them.


Not only did all this learning help me figure who I really am without giving so much, but it also helped me survive and thrive during those crazy times in 2020 and 2021. I began to see that as long as I take care of myself, everything else kind of falls into place. My family started to notice saying things like: “you seem really calm,” or “you didn’t freak out like you usually do.”


Making Self Care a Non-negotiable

There are many definitions for self care activities these days. But I define self-care as taking care of my whole self. This includes nourishing my body and mind, resetting and restoring my body and mind, moving my body every day, and connecting with positive, uplifting people.


I can’t be there fully for people who need me if I don’t do these things because I’ve learned that over-giving, over-doing, and over-committing depletes me. It doesn’t make me a better person, it does the opposite. I get resentful, angry, and not fun to be with.


Graciously saying “no,” to things I can’t fully commit to and setting boundaries based on my strengths and weaknesses has been how I show people that my importance of self care is non-negotiable because I’m worth it. Ironically, I’ve found that most people respect me rather than get mad at me when I’m honest and upfront with them. It took me nearly forty years to figure this out. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, it won’t take you that long to make your own self care a priority.


Dana Leipold is a yoga instructor, wellness coach, holistic nutritionist, wife, and mother. Since 2020, she has helped her clients care for and come back to themselves with simple holistic wellness and nutrition practices. They feel centered, rejuvenated, and strong with a way to sustain self care so they can share their gifts with a world in need. Find out more by visiting:

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