Why I’m Happy I Got a Cavity

Sometimes the strangest things–even news or situations that feel like a setback–can bring good gifts in life.

The other day when our family dentist proclaimed all four of my kids “cavity free,” I thought to myself, “Yay! That’s GREAT news!”

When he then turned to me, frowned, and said I had a cavity (the first one in about 15 years), all that happiness and self-congratulating fizzled away. But just as quickly as it left, it returned.


Because that news showed me two important things:

  1. My daughters are learning how to take care of themselves. Hours of showing, helping and reminding them to brush teeth were paying off. No small feat, considering the developmental special needs in my older two!
  2. I’m not taking good enough care of myself. During this past 6 weeks of transitioning one of our older daughters home from residential treatment, I’d been sleeping less, sometimes skipping meals, and even forgetting to brush my own teeth here and there. The dentist’s news jolted me back to reality: it was time to prioritize my own health again.

We’ve all been there. In a situation that, for a season, throws us off our groove. Times where we let healthy habits slide. Maybe we exercise less, get to bed too late, eat less healthy, indulge in worry, or let ourselves go in some other way. There’s only so much space in our lives for us when a crisis or major transition hits, after all, and so we do the best we can.

As Oprah says, “You can have it all. Just not all at once.” And grieving or managing a season of change is no exception.

The trick is knowing when it’s time to have better–when those temporary coping strategies have lost their usefulness and it’s time to get back in the saddle with self care. It’s not a perfect science–it’s more an art of trial and error than anything else–and so we’ll need to start small and recondition those healthy self care muscles a little bit at a time.

Some first steps to taking better care of you:

  1. Get to bed 30 minutes earlier than you’ve been doing.
  2. Plan 15 minutes of walking or stretching in to a day or two this week.
  3. Plan a little alone time, to listen to God’s heart and reconnect with His dreams for you.
  4. Read a book that inspires you instead of turning on the TV one night.
  5. Listen to music during a time of day that tends to drag. (For me, it’s dinner-prep time when the kids are getting antsy)
  6. Splash a little cool water on your face in the morning to help you wake refreshed.
  7. When stress creeps in, find one thing to be thankful for right then, even if it seems silly.
  8. Brush your teeth at least once a day (I’ll be following this one religiously again!)
  9. Put on a little lipstick. My mom taught me this one and it’s amazing how put-together we can suddenly feel with a bit of color on our faces.
  10. Smile as often as you remember. It relaxes your face and neck muscles, and actually makes you feel happier.

Have you been through a transition or season of challenges that’s left you on the back burner recently? What steps might you take today to start caring better for yourself again?


P.S. If you’d like some more ideas on how to do this, I hope you’re signed up for my monthly coaching letter. It gives some tips each month, along with first peeks at upcoming books and coaching groups. Sign up here today and get the free e-book, Embrace the Crazy: Practical Ideas for When Life Seems Impossible.

Holley Gerth's God-Sized Dream logoLinking up today with Holley Gerth and other God-Sized Dreamers as we think about those times we need to step back, rest, listen to God (or, in my case, let Him remind us of how to take care of ourselves!)

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  1. Holly @ The Belle Mere says

    These are great suggestions on taking care of yourself. During a self-help seminar many years ago, they told us “take care of yourself so you can take care of others”. That sentiment has stayed with me, Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      I think we all need regular reminders to take care of us so we can help others…I know I do! Probably why they say the same thing over and over on airplanes about parents putting their oxygen mask on before they put their kid’s on!