HOW I REEVALUATED MY SELF-CARE ROUTINE
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more aware of the importance of self-care. Whether you’re married or single, have children or not, stay home or are a member of the working world, taking care of yourself is so super important. Everyone has things going on in their lives that can make self-care difficult (unless you’re a Kardashian).
It wasn’t until I had an actual panic attack that I really understood what self-care meant. Sure, I was aware of the basics, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and personal care like taking a shower. Even though I was aware of what I needed to do to take care of my basic needs, when I thought about it, I realized that my self-care routine was basically nonexistent. I was running around like a crazy lady chasing her cats most days. Forgetting to eat, staying up late at night because it was the only time I had to myself during the day, and some days not even being able to fit in a shower. Which I know is gross, but if you have little humans at your house too, you get it. I also wasn’t looking beyond those basic needs. What was I doing for myself in my spare time? How did I take time to relax during the day? If you asked me that question I wouldn’t have known how to respond, because the answer was absolutely nothing.
Prior to my panic attack, I thought I was powering through my days and kicking life’s ass. I now see that stressors in my life had been building up little by little. Then, a serious health scare with a family member made me crumble into a hysterical, unable to breathe, mess. These anxious feelings didn’t go away and it was difficult to fully feel like myself again for a while. I dealt with the situation at hand as best I knew how. Prior to this incident I did have some anxiety but nothing ever this extreme. I realized that maybe I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I was, and it was time to get a little help.
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I learned a lot about anxiety through this situation. For instance, once you have a panic attack, the toll that it takes on your brain chemistry and the amount of time that it takes to actually feel normal again was surprising to me (weeks?! months?!). That anxiety is a sneaky little bitch. You’re just sitting there, painting your nails one night, then you get a phone call and it’s like the world has crumbled into a million pieces and you’re floating through outer space, completely powerless. You’re catapulted into survival mode and spend your days there until you’re able to crawl out of it.
Sure, I wish I could take weekly spa trips to help me decompress (doesn’t everyone?) but that clearly isn’t a reality for most of us. I am in a much better place than I was then.
Through the process of repairing myself (with a little help) I found some self-care strategies that work for me:
- Breathing Exercises: This may sound pretty basic, but when you’re having a moment when you feel like you literally cannot take a breath, you need to have some strategies to use. And practicing them before you need them is important.
- Mindfulness Exercises: These help me to be more “in the moment” and not focus on stressful things that may or may not happen in the future. Like they say, a majority of the things we worry about are just that, WORRIES. They never actually happen.
- Exercise: As a fat girl trapped in a skinny girl’s body for a good part of my life, I never made exercise a priority. I ate whatever I wanted and didn’t feel the need to exercise unless I was going through a time where I felt “fat”. Now, if I go a few days without exercising, I’m a crazy person! Even 5-10 minutes of yoga before bedtime helps me relax.
- Essential Oils and Reiki: As the daughter of a nurse, I’m all about traditional medicine. Prescription meds? Sure, whatever will cure my cold, aches or allergies, bring it on, and keep it coming! Therefore, I was very skeptical about trying out this essential oil craze everyone is into. But I was pleasantly surprised with the results and am a total believer! I have incorporated them into my personal care routines and into my home. I even purchased an essential oil diffuser that I LOVE ($20, you know me, I couldn’t resist). Read how I make essential oil inhaler sticks here. As far as reiki goes, I have only had a few reiki sessions, and am still deciding how I feel about it, but I do know that I feel fantastic afterwards.
- Schedule “Me Time”: Making time for yourself is difficult, make it a priority. Make time in your week to take a bubble bath, meet up with friends, get a latte. Put it right on your calendar if you have to. One day, I went to an ice cream stand all by myself, ordered a gigantic milkshake and drank it alone in my car while I drove around like a loser. It felt glorious.
- Find Something That Makes Your Soul Happy: Whether it’s a new hobby, a sport, an art class, whatever brings you happiness, do it! I got a very part-time job at a non-profit organization and it was incredibly fulfilling. It may be the only job I’ve ever loved.
- Add a Little Non-Sense: Binge watch a new show on Netflix or read a trashy magazine. I think incorporating a little more non-sense into my life helps. Not to mention, just lightening up and not sweating the small stuff in general. For me, shopping has always been a distraction. I really enjoy it and it’s relaxing to me. I love wandering around stores, by myself, even if I’m not going to buy anything.
As we get older, we have more responsibilities and more people who depend on us. Whether they are little humans, a spouse, or parents/grandparents that we care for. In order to take care of others, we first have to take care of ourselves. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to realize this.
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DISCLAIMER: I am in no way qualified to give any kind of therapeutic advice, I am simply sharing suggestions that work for me based on my own journey.
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