Hi Everyone! Welcome! Last week, we briefly touched on self care, in terms of normalizing, validating and affirming our feelings and today we will go into more detail. But first, I want to strip it back a little bit. When you think of self-care, you may think of hobbies, baths, meditation, etc. Today I want to consider the little things that we can do for ourselves that keep us from becoming emotionally, physically or spiritually drained. I am sure I am not the only one who in the past few weeks hasn’t felt motivated to get off the couch, to change out of my pajamas or to take a shower. This inability to not take care of ourselves stems from the waves of hopelessness and depression we may be experiencing; and that is ok. We may continue to get hit with those waves but let’s figure out how to avoid getting pulled into that negative current and how to avoid getting sucked into the undertow of our own despair. I believe the answer lies in making a choice. The choice being: I am going to get off the couch and I am going to change my clothes. I am going to get off the couch and take a shower. I am going to be intentional about making myself a cup of coffee in the morning and no longer make excuses that I do not deserve a delicious cup of coffee.
Those steps may seem like little choices and little things throughout the day that should be easy but in times of stress and hardship, those little steps can be the hardest to do for ourselves. When we are pushing through and trying to help others, we tend to forget to do the simplest of things for ourselves.You may go to bed and think “ Did I eat today?”. “Did I brush my teeth today?”. Your answer might be “ I don’t know” because you did not have the ability to make yourself a priority. You may have felt like you couldn’t or shouldn’t make yourself a priority. Let’s normalize that experience and validate that we are ALL going to have those days but the purpose of this blog is to encourage you to do those small things. To make the decision to take care of yourself even if it is as simple as choosing to get out of bed, change your clothes or make yourself a cup of coffee.
In addition to those steps, I know that many of us are struggling to get a good night sleep due to being flooded with our own thoughts and worries. I want to encourage you to develop a night time routine that will help you wind down. Some things that I suggest are ideally, using a journal to get your worrisome thoughts out on to paper. By doing so, you have acknowledged your worrisome thoughts and addressed them. You are no longer giving the thoughts the power to creep into your mind when your body should be relaxing. Be intentional about creating a relaxing environment around you. Pour yourself a cup of tea, put on relaxation music or maybe settle into a good book. By doing this we can give our bodies permission to relax and to recover from the stressors of our day. I would suggest that you allow yourself a specific amount of time before bed to wind down (i.e. 30 minutes to an hour). Do not engage in activities/interests which may stimulate your body and mind too much. Be intentional.
If you are struggling to identify areas of interest, motivating factors or just inspiration to take steps towards making yourself a priority, vision boards can be extremely useful. The purpose of a vision board is to place images, quotes or lyrics which represent your hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations. The vision board is to serve as a visual reminder, to ensure you do not lose sight of your vision for yourself/life. For me specifically, my vision board was made to remind me to stay motivated and pursue a healthy lifestyle as well as my hobbies. It acts as a reminder when I become too consumed by my negative emotions to encourage myself to do the things I love. Some ideas for self care beyond a vision board include: creating your own mandalas, using an adult coloring book, sudoku, word searches, playing a game on your phone or picking up a new hobby. Self care can also come in the form of doing nothing. Give yourself permission to sit in the darkness and sit in the quiet. Ground yourself. Just “let it go”. Let go of it to the point where you can just be at peace with yourself. You may want to try a form of meditation: walking meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery are extremely useful tools in grounding our mind, body and spirit. Give this quick guided imagery a try.
Close your eyes. Picture your happy place. A place that soothes you, grounds you and connects you to a sense of peace. Is it the ocean or a campfire? When you can picture your happy place in your mind ask yourself the following questions. What can you see? What can you smell? What can you hear? What can you taste? What can you touch? Allow all of your senses to transport you to the place you have chosen. Allow yourself to be in this place with all of your being. Sit in the calm which this place represents. Stay there as long as you need to ground yourself just enough to feel your body, soul and mind at ease.
I hope that you will find these tools and recommendations helpful in your journey to self-care. I would also recommend checking out the Weekend Wind Down series by my colleague, Tracy Funke. The series incorporates meditation, light stretching, movement and breathing exercises. I encourage you all to take the next week to be intentional about incorporating self-care into your daily routines. Self-care as you now know, can come in the smallest of forms. Do not put pressure on yourself to complete it daily. My hope is that you will make a concerted effort to make yourself a priority in any form which you can.
Thanks for reading. I will see you next time where I’ll be discussing connecting with our children.
Have a great week!
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Megan Turner LCSW, has been providing therapeutic services to children and families for over 7 years. She specializes in the treating depression, mood disorders, anxiety, personality disorders, parenting skills and family dynamics.