Tag Archives: self-care

Reclaiming My Health

I talked about the various ways that I manage stress in my last post, Stressed: the New Normal. I’ve allowed stress to take over my life in the past, to the point where my health noticeably began failing. Two years ago I decided to take my life back and made some drastic changes.

I kept telling myself that being a workaholic is necessary to getting ahead in your career. That people commute long distances to work all the time, it’s no big deal. I just needed to believe in myself and things would fall into place.

I love this card and have had it posted up at every home I’ve lived in for years. But a while back, I started thinking more about my limitations. No matter what I’d like to believe, I’m not super woman, and I cannot handle everything. I do have a breaking point.

I had taken on too much at work, spending close to 70 hours each week attempting to complete everything that had been put on my plate. My health started to decline and my relationships suffered. At first, I thought I was a failure. I thought that I should be able to handle anything, and more, that it was necessary to be successful in life.

Finally, I broke down and went to see my doctor. She calmly explained that the high level of stress I was enduring was causing my migraines, rashes, digestive issues, and erratic mood swings. My body was screaming at me to “STOP! SLOW DOWN!” but I wasn’t listening.

I needed to prioritize my health.

I quit my job and found a company that would allow me to find some kind of balance in my life. During my interviews I was open about my need to cut back. I let them know that I was not willing to be a workaholic, and that – honestly – I didn’t really have the ambition anymore to work my way up the ladder. I wanted a career that I enjoyed, at a company that allowed for lateral movement if I so desired.

With a renewed focus on being my best self I started working on a lifestyle focused on feeling good – every day. I don’t think about calories or weight loss. I’m not in it for a short-term fix. These are the three things I prioritize:

  • Start moving more. I walk and take the stairs when practical. I found workouts that I actually enjoyed, rather than ones I felt that I “should do”.
  • Focus on REAL FOOD. I’m not perfect, but I strive for 75/25 – 75% of the time I stay away from processed foods and refined sugar. 25% of the time I allow myself to relax. And whenever possible, I add more veggies – you can never have enough veggies.
  • Invest in your health. Going to the chiropractor on a weekly basis, buying high quality foods, and memberships to workout facilities are expensive. But they’re worth it. I’M WORTH IT.

Stressed: the New Normal

 

When did stress become an acceptable constant state of being? Oh, you’re a student/mother/father/employee/human being? Of course you’re stressed out. Of course you have high anxiety. What do you expect?

What do I expect? I expect to be able to breathe. I expect to be able to live a life that allows for more calm than chaotic. So I fight for it. I fight to give myself the permission to take a moment, an hour, a day – to find my calm. To remind myself that I need to take care of my mental health.

I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.

~Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was not talking about taking a bubble bath or getting a massage (not to say that either of those is a bad thing), she was talking about self-care as an act of political warfare, as a MUST for activists fighting against racism in our society. Now I could go on and on about the complex issues that minorities in this country face, and why Black women are stressed at a level that the rest of us will likely never experience. But I’ll let you go down that rabbit hole on your own. This is a good article to get started:
https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/audre-lorde-thought-self-care-act-political-warfare

I’m going to take a step back. Inhale deeply. And exhale.

Ok. Let’s talk about managing stress instead. As a full-time student, with a full-time career (plus a husband and dogs), finding a way to relax is difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. I struggled for years to balance school, work, and a personal life (there’s a reason I’ve been in college off and on for 16 years). I wouldn’t say that I’ve figured it all out, but I’ve found a recipe that works for me today. So what do I do to decrease my stress levels?

  • I meditate
  • I let go
  • I embrace
  • I take care of my health

Meditation for me was an easy addition, I sort of cheated in this category. As a fortune baby (a child born into a family that practices Buddhism) I already knew one form of meditation. But meditation is not strictly religious. There are tons of tips , videos and apps out there to help you get started on your meditation practice.

Letting go. Easier said than done.

I had to start allowing myself to let go of my stress and to relax. I’m not saying to ignore your responsibilities or to pretend that nothing in the world is going wrong. Instead, I allow myself to take a break from things. Even when there’s another paper to write, another load of laundry that needs to be washed, another client project to do – I give myself the permission to put it away for a while. Sometimes I can let go completely. Does it seem like an indulgence to pay someone to shovel my sidewalk or buy those veggies pre-cut? Maybe, but it takes something off my plate so it’s worth it to me. If I can’t remove the stress completely, I take step away for a bit. I allow myself to watch a tv show, sit on my deck with a glass of wine, play with my dogs. Which leads me to…

Embracing the moment.

My brain is constantly going a mile a minute (which you can probably tell from this rambling post). That’s great at work when I’m trying to juggle a dozen different tasks at one time. But when my head is filled with everything that stresses me out, it’s important that I find a way to “stay out of my mind” from time to time. If I can focus on the present moment, and actually enjoy it, I’m calmer when I need to face my anxiety again. I take a walk with my dogs. If I’m thinking about everything that causes me anxiety I’m likely to grow frustrated when they stop to sniff for 5 min at the same spot. When I embrace the moment, I can laugh and share their enjoyment of our journey.

Finally, I take care of my health. Since this is a large topic all together I’ll share it in another post.

What do you do to cope with stress?

Being Your Best You

My next piece of advice for the upcoming generations is to accept failure. I grew up being so discouraged about not succeeding in everything I do and let it get me down. I have quit sports that I loved because I was embarrassed about not being as good as those around me. As I get older I realize you need to fail in order to learn and get stronger at something. It isn’t something to be ashamed of but proud to practice and overcome.

I strongly urge those who come across this to let your curiosity take over and explore new things. Try to think differently and don’t stick to a basic routine. It takes more effort and you may find out you hate some of them but it opens so many doors which you may have never had the change if not willing to be a beginner. I came across this viral video that as really hit home on how to be your best you…through failure! If you haven’t seen it already here is Will Smith’s opinion on the topic:

There are a few different reasons I believe this video has grabbed the attention of so many people. As Mendelson said in “How to Really Make it on the Web”, having a legitimate celebrity alone can capture the audience of fans who already like them and care about what they have to say. Mendelson also stated that what you need to make it on the web is to have the media more than just the audience. I found this video on Facebook as it keeps popping up consistently. Media can help connect the message you want to get out and spread as fast as a disease. Mendelson recommends Twitter more than other social media sites but currently they all can help you keep intact with your audience if that is the platforms you use. The people you want to reach will dictate everything you do.

Lets Talk: Self Care

self care

Everyone in our class is or has been a college student, the majority if not all juggle jobs, home life, social time and of course school. Yet rarely do we stop to give ourselves the much needed TLC that we so desperately need. My anthropology professor at NDSU told us the first day of class “You all have a little bot of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, that’s why your here in college. I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.” He had heard it from another colleague. It was a helpful reminder to take care of myself once in a while.

Self-care can come in a number of forms but the point is to take some time wether it’s 5 minutes or several hours to focus on something you love that brings you joy. This Ted talk discuss the importance of self-care.  I like to take a bath with bath bomb and a cold glass of mascato while listening to a podcast of “The Splendid Table”.  But truthfully it only happens once a month if I am lucky. However there are tons of little things you or I could do for self-care.

  • Listen to a song you love
  • Play with a furry friend
  • Take 3 deep meaningful breaths
  • Watch a funny movie
  • Write down 3 things your grateful for
  • Eat a something you enjoy
  • Read a magazine
  • Play a video game
  • Visit a coffee shop
  • Have a social media free day
  • Put on fresh comfy clothes

Remember you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself…