Many people talk about self-care but don’t actually practice the act within their daily lives.
During the last year of my graduate program, my fieldwork professor preached to the high heavens on the importance of self-care within the helping field. She warned us that therapists, counselors, and social workers experience the most burn out in the field because we are constantly giving of ourselves daily. Every week she would ask each student in class to name something that they did for themselves over the weekend. Many of us would say sleep, catch up on shows, watch a movie … you know things that don’t really apply to self-care. Our responses were more of a break from the routine of our hectic schedules.
Self-care is actively setting time out of your busy schedule to cater to you.
That means mind, body, and spirit.
Self-care goes far beyond getting eight hours of sleep. It’s in your thoughts, your actions, how you carry yourself, what you do for others, and your outlook on life.
During my last semester of graduate school, I challenged myself to make that change. Often times I was too busy trying to help others that I neglected the most important person – ME. Prior to entering my final year of grad school, I knew that fieldwork year would be stressful. Little did I know that my first semester of fieldwork, was literally, the semester from hell! The devil was working y’all! Dude legit concocted a plan to try to annihilate my colleagues and I. Come December we were left depleted, drained, fatigued, and questioning whether we made the right career choice. Thankfully, words of encouragement from clinical supervisors and Prof. G assured us that though this job is extremely taxing, it’s rewarding because we are leaders. We save and change lives!
The mind is extremely powerful. It is central in command to the rest of our body. It controls mood, behaviors, and even actions. As a budding Mental Health clinician, I know how important it is to maintain a positive mindset. Now, I’m not even going to begin to act like I’m happy 24/8 and it’s always rainbows and sunshine – because it’s totally not! I have moments of sadness, I get overwhelmed, frustration can creep in, and honestly at times I don’t want to be bothered. This isn’t an all the time thing, but when it happens I allow myself the space to feel the impact of those emotions. After I sit with the emotions, I then attempt to turn the negative into a positive. I try to find the blessing in disguise. Even if clarity isn’t within reach.
Another thing that helps me clear my mind is writing. I love to write and my journal is my saving grace. When I don’t feel like verbalizing my feelings aloud, my pen and paper become my solace. During my time as a trainee counselor, I would encourage my clients to journal their thoughts and feelings and we would discuss them in session. Journal entries don’t have to be long and draw out. You certainly don’t have to write in it every day. You can start off once a month, and work your way you from there. Entries can be short and simple; even one sentence statements can help relieve your mind if you’re frustrated or angry.
Change your perspective and watch things around you change as well!
Exercise is key! To be honest – I’m not a fan of working out, (especially in the gym lol), but lately I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone and have created a schedule to work out throughout the week. I started simple by taking a walk around my neighborhood and apartment complex. As time passed, I eventually went to the gym with a good friend. We both aren’t fans of the gym but it helps to have an accountability partner. We provide motivation and support, which we otherwise wouldn’t do on our own. It’s been about two months and we’ve tackled the Culver City stairs, Sand Dunes, The Hill, and the Bluff trail.
Personally, when I feel like working out I prefer to be in the comfort of my home. My routine consists of a few exercises on my yoga mat. For example, I’ll do a couple of workout videos from YouTube, reps of variations of abs/arms/glutes exercises, and my work is done.
Aside from exercise clean eating is the next solution.
Drink Water: I drink water like a fish lol so my daily intake is accounted for. The daily intake is 8 glasses of water or 4 water bottles a day. You can even jump on the new challenge of drinking a gallon of water a day.
Cooking vs. Take Out: I absolutely love to cook and often prefer a home cooked meal over something quick. I meal prep Sundays (snacks included) to last the whole week. This has been my saving grace due to my hectic schedule. I remember growing up watching my mom cook about 4-5 different meals religiously every Sunday so she wouldn’t have to cook throughout the week. She was definitely superwoman in my eyes – she still is to this day! During the weekends I treat myself and eat out. This too, was something that I grew up doing. Now the tradition has been passed down with my niece and she looks forward to it every week. Like my niece says, “Fast food Fridays” and we literally pig out! It’s okay to indulge every now and then.
Hair, Skin, and Nails: I will reserve this topic for a separate post because I can talk about the natural hair life forEVER. A quick tidbit for skin care: Lately I’ve been reading up on face masks recipes and one that caught my attention was a turmeric mask. It’s very simple all you need is turmeric powder, honey, and lemon. I’ve even heard of people adding in cinnamon to the mixture. This will be up next for me to try within the next month or so!
Just like we need to feed our bodies when we’re hungry. We need to feed our souls/spirits just the same. I grew up in the church, so praying daily and having a relationship with the Lord was crucial!
In efforts to continue feeding my spirit, I’ve been reading my Bible, spending time with God, and writing in my prayer journal. I always said that I wanted to read my Bible in its entirety – and I mean REALLY read it and not just skim through the pages. I was prompted by a friend to begin to delve into it – reading two chapters a day and reflect on what I learned. I started last year around February and finished the New Testament by the end of 2016. Once January hit, I was ready to begin the Old Testament. I’m gon keep it 100, the OT ain’t no joke! There’s so much information, from genealogy to repetitive stories – you name it, it’s there. Anyway, I’m still at it and I’m currently in the book of Judges.
My time with God consists of me sitting in silence or writing in my prayer journal. I want to eventually be able to hear His voice. In order for that to happen, there needs to be no distractions. I turn my phone on silent and meditate. When I write in my prayer journal, I am unapologetically me. I talk to God as if He’s the homie down the street (He is the FOREVER homie!). Candid and straight to the point. If I’m confused, I’m like “Okay Lord, what is going on? Why do you have me in this situation?” If I’m mad or angry, “Okay Lord, I can’t deal today! I’m tired of learning lessons!” When I’m sad and need strength, “Lord, you know that I feel like giving up. Carry me through this storm”. The list can go on, but I find comfort in the fact that I can lay it all out there and I know that God is listening.
I encourage you to set aside time for yourself to indulge in self-care, your mind, body, and spirit will be thankful!