Wouldn’t it be magnificent if there were some things we didn’t have to try hard at? It would probably mean I would be good at a sport. Unfortunately neither of these things are true. There are parts of life that if we want them, want to keep them, want to grow them we have to nurture them in a disciplined way. Self care is one of those things. Yes, self care. THE buzz word of all buzz words for a therapist but with good reason. Sometimes, especially during difficult times, if we want joy to come and stay we need to plant it and water it.
Recently as I was just sitting and reflecting I started to give myself some credit for the healing and growth I’ve somehow been able to accomplish in the last few months. [I say ‘somehow’ because at times it has felt like I am swimming upstream to just be ok]. With phrases such as “time heals all wounds” being so popular, it is easy for us to expect to feel better just by chance but that is false. It takes perseverance and persistence. Somewhere between being humble and confident I began to realize all the things I have been able to do, even when I didn’t want to, that have contributed to my joy. And where it once took so much effort now it is part of my routine. And my joy is starting to feel easy again.
So I’ve decided to share some of the small things that have made the biggest difference in my self-care routine. It’s not one size fits all and I definitely didn’t start doing all these things at once, so find your pace. Push yourself (engage in at least one thing at least once a week even if you ‘don’t feel like it’ )but don’t over-exert yourself (I once skipped a dance class and accepted the $20 late cancellation fee because I just knew I couldn’t put up a front that day).
- Making my room my sanctuary. My days consist of holding emotional space for others so when I come home I need a space for myself that is relaxing and enjoyable.
- Positive words & Scripture. I only recently realized all the art work and signs I have hanging in my room, bathroom, and office. They all have a personal and positive meaning that gives me hope and resilience. Even if I am not consciously reading all of them they contribute to the essence of the space.
- Coffee & Cute Mugs. Need I say more? It appeals to the senses. I’m pretty sure I was feeling crappy one day and went to Target just to get a new mug I could be excited about.
- Poetry. Of all the things on this list, this might be the best. I’ve discovered two writers, Alex Elle and R.M. Drake, whom I love!! Their work is raw and real. All about hope and resilience. Healing and growing. When I don’t have the words to say or the thoughts to process, I ALWAYS discover what I am thinking or feeling through their work.
- Makeup. #girlygirl over here but makeup gives me something to be excited about. I observe my favorite Youtubers (Miami girls Kathleen Lights and GlambyMel are my favs) and try to recreate their masterpieces. If you don’t think makeup is art then just watch what these girls do.
- Exercise. I’ve found the studio my heart adores. Vibe Ride in Atlanta features cycling classes with DJs and they mostly play hip-hop music. I’ve also tried their Hip-Hop Barre class and Pound Pilates (uses drumsticks and drumming as part of the workout). Guys, I love it so much I even go on Friday nights and Saturday mornings! The view I get of midtown as I drive in is a plus.
- Social Media Boundaries. Limiting what I look at on social media has prevented me from having some bad days. It was like breaking an addiction! I even needed accountability from my friends. So hard but so worth it.
Candles. They look good. They smell good. They contribute to ambiance. Bonus points if it’s what I jokingly call a “man candle” aka it smells like how I imagine a GQ model does (heart eye emoji).
Whether you give any of these techniques a shot or try your own, make it a point to put your emotional health first.