I started this blog because as a social worker, I wanted a platform to share nuggets that I have learned and am continuing to learn about self-care and managing my life. Writing is a form of self-care for me because it allows me to express, reflect and evaluate my thoughts. Not to mention, I enjoy it and have always dreamed of being a writer when I was younger. I loved reading books and losing myself in the stories. I thought about how amazing it would be to relate to people and evoke feelings from reading the words on a page.
Here, I’m bridging my love of helping people with my love of writing and the good news is that I don’t have to make anything up because this blog is about my thoughts and experiences. In my professional life, I’ve had many successes such as seeing clients and projects succeed, maintaining great relationships, and receiving promotions. I have also experienced some failures and have been burned out at different agencies. It was the experience of attending graduate school in 2009, while working full time and managing a household with 2 small children and a husband, that I realized that I wasn’t going to survive without implementing some serious self-care strategies. Even though it was my decision to put myself (and my family) through that grueling schedule, I did take a firm stance that I would take care of myself through the process.
In my social work internship contract, some of my commitment to self-care included scheduling a monthly massage (stress relief), attending church (spiritual renewal), exercising regularly (reduces anxiety, releases endorphins), practicing yoga (relaxation), and meditation (mindfulness). I even did counseling the last 6 months of graduate school because I was under so much stress at my job (eventually led to burn out) and I needed to talk about what I was going through. The counseling helped me tremendously. Oddly enough (for me), I even started jogging for the first time in my life in my second year and managed to go hiking at least 3 times a week. I lost 15 pounds that year. Most everything worked in helping manage stress except I had a hard time keeping up with the massages. Alas, by the time I completed graduate school, I was again burned out and it was not because I missed a few massage appointments. I went through a lot in those 2.5 years.
There’s so much to self-care and I’m still learning what it all means. It can even change as your needs change. I haven’t gotten a massage in years and I no longer jog. As I was taking care of my husband before, during and after his surgery (see my first blog post), I realized that self-care meant that I needed to ease up on myself for not being able to do my self-care “activities” at that moment. I also allowed others to take care of me because I needed it. Self-care is making all of my doctor appointments, exercising regularly, reading a magazine, breathing, drinking a cup of tea, learning to say “no”, getting a pedicure, slowing down, smelling the flowers, and attending to my spiritual and emotional health, which is a constant work in progress. I’m more conscious of my thoughts and have let go of the perfectionism (mostly…a lot). I’m now exploring areas of my life that are not in congruence with my values, beliefs, goals and DREAMS and I eventually plan to change that.
What I do know is that what works for me may not work for you. My hope is that you take the time to find out what does work, and make it a habit in your every day life.