Practicing Self-Care

In this chaotic life, we are bombarded with things we are expected to do. We have financial obligations, which usually means we have a job. We have a home we have to take care of. We have family members who need us. There are societal expectations about how we should look, what we should eat, and how we should act. Add in the component of having a child in Treatment, and it is easy to be very overwhelmed. We spend so much time taking care of everyone else that we forget to take care of ourselves.

I recently returned from a family vacation. It was while I was on the beach with my family that I realized how much I had been focusing on everything, and everyone else, rather than focusing on my needs. As I watched my kids playing in the ocean and watched my husband joking and playing with them, I realized just how long it had been since I had taken care of myself. I am usually so focused taking care of everyone else’s needs, that my needs are brushed aside: I have a migraine- I’ll just take some medication and push on, after all, these papers won’t grade themselves. I’m ready for bed, but there is another load of laundry to switch, so I’ll wait until it’s done before I go to bed. Little things that, after a while, start to take a toll.

Once I returned from my vacation, I was more relaxed. I was able to concentrate more on the tasks at hand and was able to be more productive in all of my responsibilities. I was a better teacher to my students. I was more patient and kind. I had a better attitude. However, practicing self-care while on vacation is one thing, but I need to be better at incorporating it into every day. It’s hard to think of ways to incorporate self-care if I am already feeling overwhelmed. So I found a huge list of ideas on Goodtherapy.org. Here are a few of my favorites that may help you:

  1. Pick one thing that you need to do and get it done so it’s off your mental “to do” list.
  2. Get a manicure or pedicure.
  3. Get a massage.
  4. Use a planner or a calendar to intentionally schedule “me time.”
  5. In the morning, listen to music that inspires and motivates you.
  6. Write a list of things you’re grateful to have in your life and post it somewhere you can see it often. We have a tendency to focus on the negative, so remind yourself of the good stuff.
  7. Intentionally reestablish contact with someone you’ve lost touch with or have unresolved conflict with. If there is conflict, resolve it and let go of the unnecessary baggage.
  8. Learn how to make a budget and keep track of your money coming in, going out, and know how much money you have right now. If you live paycheck to paycheck, this can be incredibly empowering.
  9. Take a moment at the end of each day and consciously list a few good things in your life. This can help refocus your emotions on all the positive things that happen each day, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
  10. Turn off your phone and step away from the computer for a whole day.
  11. Cut some fresh flowers and display them prominently to lift your spirit.
  12. Go to a comedy club. Laughter really is the best medicine.
  13. Drink more water. The benefits are endless.
  14. Finish this sentence: “I love myself because I ______________.” Do this once per day, with a new ending each time.
  15. Watch a couple episodes of a feel-good sitcom for a few giggles. Have an exit strategy so you don’t get sucked into an all-day marathon and feel guilty for it.
  16. Do something you used to like to do, whether or not you were or are “good at it.” Remind yourself that you can do something just because you enjoy it, and the only way most people get better at something is practice.
  17. Read a book that’s easy and fun. You can give it away to a younger person in your life after if you feel like giving it up.

Eleanor Brown states, “Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” How can I expect to take care of anyone else if I am not taking care of myself? When flying, we are told in the event of an emergency to put on our own oxygen mask before that of someone who depends on us. I, as much as anyone, need to remind myself that it is good to take some time for myself; I am a better person when I am practicing self-care. It is when I forget to practice self-care when I am most likely to become overwhelmed.