I’ve had a tough time writing today’s blog. This week we’re talking about self care and the importance of refueling ourselves, so that we can continue to tend the fires of those we love. Like most people, my fuel tank is incredibly low. There has been a lot happening in the world over the last months and I haven’t been great about keeping myself grounded. My tank ran dry and I’ll tell you, it was not pretty.
Sometimes having your tank run dry is unavoidable. Modern life is stressful and beating myself up for not keeping myself calm seems counterproductive. But now that I’m somewhat on the other side of this particular episode, I’ll reflect on what self care strategies work best for me.
- Exercise – This is my number one stress buster. It took me years to figure out the importance of exercise for my mental health. For most of my life, I saw exercise as a means to change my body and lose weight. Once I let go of that, I was able to embrace the way I feel when I move my body in a way that feels good. My favorite things to do are walk my dog while listening to podcasts and small group exercise classes with friends, where we talk and laugh.
- Time with friends – A walk in the park, a cup of coffee or a funny text exchange can all do wonders for my mood. The research is clear that friends are good for your mental and physical health (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/201710/why-do-we-need-friends-six-benefits-healthy-friendships).
- Solitude – I need a bit of calm and quiet time by myself each day. It doesn’t always happen, but I’m super grateful when it does. When I’m hitting on all cylinders, I’ll use this time to meditate, but honestly, I haven’t been doing that for quite a while.
- Sleep – I’m sure I’m not alone with this one, but I’m a disaster when I don’t get a decent night’s sleep. This one often gets counterbalanced with solitude, I typically get one or the other, but not both.
- Manicure/Pedicure – This one is pretty cliche, but when I’m particularly anxious, I tend to pick at my cuticles and my nails. A nice manicure will trim away all of those tempting hangnails and gives me a pretty color to look at instead.
As caregivers, we’re conditioned to always put the needs of others above our own, but over time, that makes me a pretty shitty caregiver. I’m SO much better at my job when I fill my proverbial tank.
I’m always looking for new ways to tend my own fire. What does self care look like for you?