So I pride myself on being a sort of Guru on all things Self-Care.
As a Social Worker, my main areas of practice, research, and training are on the topic of Self-Care. Self-Care for clients and Self-Care for fellow professionals. As a Mom and survivor of Post-Partum Depression, I am uber-aware of the benefits of caring for myself to better care for my daughter. I also embrace Self-Care strategies in a variety of other settings and areas of my life. I have dozens of Post-It Notes full of specific Self-Care reminders. I have endless journals and work logs full of strategies and research. I’m always asking others what they do for Self-Care, not only for them to be thinking in those terms, but also so I can add to my endless list of ideas.
My friends, family, and colleagues know they can come to me for a nice needed dose of Self-Care. I will breathe with you, I will remind you to take care of yourself. I will even give you a nice, big hug, since sometimes that is my favorite Self-Care strategy. And I’m known for my hugs as I have perfected them over the years.
Yet, even those of us who live and breathe Self-Care can sometimes forget all those many strategies we have on Post It Notes cluttered around every corner of our home and office. Seriously, when I’m in a funk or a crisis happens, for some reason, those Post It Notes vanish before my eyes. Hard for me to admit this, but it’s true.
The gradual shift from being in Self-Care-mode to a state of not-quite-caring-for-self-mode can be subtle and insidious. My most recent “slip” materialized in the form of me seemingly forgetting just how important intense exercise is. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but it did. I was still walking, doing yoga, and some other forms of low-intensity exercise, so maybe part of me figured it was enough. For me, this is just a piece of my overall exercise needs. In order for me to feel less anxious, less depressed, more in control, energized, and happy, I need to incorporate several high-intensity workout sessions a few times a week. Weights, running, kick boxing, playing drums … anything that will allow my lungs to hurt and my aggression to be released. I can literally feel the toxins (both physical and emotional) melt from my body as my heart rate increases and I’m panting.
So, for whatever reason, I let those sessions become less and less frequent. My mood became more and more irritable, my sleep was off, my energy was off, I felt lethargic and cranky. I was able to snap back to reality when I finally did a hard-core workout again, felt amazing, and was all, “Oh yeah, now I remember why this is so important to my overall well being. Duh.”
It all happened this easily. I got in the funk slowly, but easily, yet I was able to come out quickly and easily. I swear, I can make things so much more complicated than they need to be.
The key, for me anyway, is to remember that I am human and may forget from time to time. So long as I remember, re-embrace my skills, hold onto what it feels like to *not* take care of myself and vow to minimize my going back there, then I am okay. After all, part of Self-Care is forgiving myself and allowing myself to experience all levels of this amazing journey.
Filed under: Compassion Fatigue, Health, Hope Notes, Just for Laughs, Mental Illness, Motherhood, One and Done, Parenting, PerinatalMoodDisorders, Self-Care, Social Media, Strengths Perspective, Stress Reduction, Working Mom