The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stressSong Inspiration: Cranes in the Sky x Solange
So we’re going through a global pandemic, constant reminders that our nation has a long way to go in achieving true social justice, the severity of climate change, and a resurgence of sexual assault experiences and allegations being shared across almost all social media platforms. YIKES is an understatement. I wanted to do a quick but meaningful check-in on the current status of our mental health because I consider y’all my family and I care about you! The issues that we see unfolding around us are extremely important, and require our attention, but I also think it’s important to know when to step back and take some time to replenish yourself. I just want to take a moment to talk about the importance of self-care, especially through stressful situations.
I started my self-care journey on February 14th, 2019. Prior to that, I was struggling, BAD. I had graduated from an accelerated master’s degree program the summer of 2018 and started working two jobs during that fall. By September of 2018, I was waking up at 6 am to start my full-time job from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm and then picking back up with my part-time job from 4:30 pm until 9:30 pm during the weekday and a few hours on the weekend. I was working a total of 70 hours a week. While balancing my work load, I tried my best to keep up with my relationship, friends and family while struggling to take care of myself. I began to distance myself not only because of my crazy work schedule, but also because of the internal battle I was having with myself about how to utilize my free time when I actually had free time. I wanted to spend time with family and friends but my body was physically tired and my mental state was crumbling slowly but surely. Although I tried my best to mask how I was feeling on the inside when I did choose to spend my free time with my significant other, family or my friends, I felt like I was the furthest thing from a joy to be around. It felt like I was a walking zombie, like I was drowning in broad daylight and nobody could see. At the same time, I was afraid to talk to my friends and family about what I was experiencing because I felt like they had other things going on and didn’t want to add the “burden” of my problems on them.
I went into overdrive and my energy would spiral from being really happy and feeling good about life to really sad and frustrated with what was happening around me. It took a major toll on the relationship with my significant other. It felt like we were walking on eggshells with one another each time we were together and eventually we started seeing less of each other. With unaddressed mental and physical health concerns, daily life struggles with work and school and a stack of other issues that were lost in that black hole, our relationship was torn apart. In that moment I felt like I had lost control of everything. I thought I was doing my best to multi-task and stay balanced within my jobs, and in turn I was neglecting eating and sleeping. I thought I was trying my best to keep up with my family and friends but I would find that I was going weeks, even months without initiating an interaction and if I heard from family and friends, I would cut the conversation short.
After getting to a point of true helplessness, I decided to take the first step of getting my life back on track. I researched personal counseling offices and made my first appointment. It was a brave first step, and after a little over a year, I can honestly say that it was the best decision I could have ever made for my life. Now don’t get me wrong, therapy is not an easy process and it definitely was not fun digging deep into the aspects of my life that I had buried, never to be uncovered again. It changed my outlook on a lot of the experiences I’ve had in in life and it helped me gain a sense of strength and confidence that was missing. I have been able to be at peace with my past and have gained a sense of hope for my future.I have restored relationships with my family and friends and I have changed the way that I approach the work that I do. Therapy opened up a new avenue of my life that encouraged self-care at all costs and I am so thankful. Unfortunately, all good things eventually come to an end. Although my time in therapy was extremely life-changing and I enjoyed the experience, I had my last therapy session at the end of May. I didn’t view it as an ending, but as a beginning of a new, healthy chapter of my life.
As awesome as I believe therapy is, I understand that this isn’t a reality for many people. I would like to share some self-care activities with little to no cost that helped me practice consistency with loving myself and taking care of my needs, even in the midst of trying times.
- Creating a self-care check-list: First and foremost, check-in with yourself!! Make sure you are prioritizing your mental and physical health by checking off some basic boxes like eating, drinking water, sleeping and bathing. Then prioritize your list by what you need in that particular moment
- Sleeping: Finding a good sleeping schedule, especially with my workload has been helpful. there are times when I feel like I am missing out because I need rest, but I remind myself that in order to be my best self, I need to show my body kindness and let it rest
- Keeping up with your meds: If you take medicine routinely, set an alarm to ensure that you’re taking your meds on time and when you’re supposed to. I recently started taking vitamins and it holds me accountable to eating because I have to take the vitamin with a meal
- Setting healthy boundaries with others: As you’re processing your emotions and feelings, take time to set boundaries with others. Don’t waste time arguing with an internet troll, or feel like you have to educate the entire Facebook platform on racial bias. It’s okay to say NO! Be honest about your energy levels when others ask you to participate in activities and be mindful that it you are not obligated to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or crosses your line of security.
- Showers/baths: Showers are one of my favorite ways to practice self-care! You can turn up the music and have a private concert, try a new skin care routine or a new shampoo. I have natural hair so I make shower time on wash days an entire event! Baths are always nice for total relaxation. Dim the lights, put on your favorite movie/show, grab a book to read or listen to some music.
- Talking to God/reading my Bible: Those who know me, know that my faith is a huge part of my life. I have spent each day for the past 8 weeks taking the time to pray, meditate and read. It has given me such a better outlook on my life and a sense of calmness that I just can’t explain.
- Journal/Blog/read: If writing is your thing, try journaling your thoughts/feelings day to day or week to week. In my quiet time, I like to journal my thoughts. If reading is your thing, try finding a virtual book club to connect with people across the country who have a shared love for books. I recently started this blog as a form of self-care and keeping up with it has been the best!
- Cooking: I love to try new recipes! I search Pinterest, Twitter and other food blogging sites to try new foods and dishes. Doing this allows me to take healthy risks and it reminds me that it is okay to make mistakes and to start over.
- Cleaning: This may sound weird but cleaning/organizing is a form of relaxation for me! I get such a satisfying feeling from seeing the before and after images of the cleaning projects that I do
- Painting: I am not so good at it, but that doesn’t stop me from trying! I love doing Painting with a Twist. It is calming to watch it all come together
- Exercising: I love yoga and cycling! Go for a walk! If you can get outside and get active, do it! It’s getting warmer out which makes this experience that much more enjoyable
- Listening to Music: Music has a way of connecting us as a whole and reaching us in more ways than one. I am always down to be put on to new music and to share with others
- Spend time with family/friends: Block out some time for positive human interaction! My friends love me and understand me so it is always nice being around people who love you and have your best interest at heart. You’re then able to drop your shoulders and truly relax!
- Limit your screen time: This one is pretty tricky to do since for the last few months we were on a stay at home order. Although it is important to make sure you’re up to date on current events, make sure to take time away from your social media handles and news outlets.
I know that times are hard. I am here to encourage you to keep your head up. If getting out of the bed each morning is a victory step for you, celebrate that! Take it one day at a time. I’m rooting for you, wherever you are. We’ll get through this together. With that being said, check in with me! How you feelin? What are you doing to address your needs? I’d love to hear your thoughts on self-care during this time and how we can support each other!
Yours in Authenticity,