Self-care was a new concept to me when I first started learning about it in my late 30s. After my repressed trauma had surfaced. And it was by practicing self-care that I was able to find my way back to myself post-trauma.
Prior to learning about self-care, I wasn’t doing much throughout the day to take care of myself. I would work and party without much in between. My breaks during the day consisted of staring at screens. I was lethargic and tired. I’d get rundown and sick often. I was in a constant fight-or-flight state with nothing to bring me out of it.
Then through trauma recovery, I learned that there are many small things I can do to make myself feel better each day. Also known as self-care. Self-care can be anything from bathing to walking to journaling. It can be meditating, eating healthy or practicing yoga.
Basically, it’s the small things you do throughout the day that help you take care of yourself. Often with the chaos of the day, it’s easy to lose track of ourselves and self-care brings us back to ourselves.
Self-care is the light in the dark that shows us the way back to ourselves. Back to our Higher Selves. That voice inside that tells us what to do. The voice we all need to listen to.
In order to add more self-care to my day, I started breaking down how I was spending each day and seeing where I could fit in more self-care. For example, I was eating a lot of processed foods and realized I could easily replace them with whole foods. Like I can eat an apple instead of chips when I need something crunchy. I also noticed that I was taking breaks, but I was watching TV every time. Instead, I started going for walks outside, and I noticed I’d feel more energized after.
Some days, especially tough days, I go easy on myself in regard to self-care. Some days my self-care means just getting out of bed, brushing my teeth and eating healthy. Going at my own pace. Meeting myself where I’m at. Doing things that make me feel good without pushing myself too much. I’m learning self-care means whatever you need to do to take care of yourself that day. No matter what that may be.
So if you’d like to assess your current self-care practices, and maybe add more to your day, here are five steps you can take:
- Make a list of all the things you currently do for self-care. Take inventory. Think of everything you do from the moment you get out of bed until you go to sleep. And remember, some days this means simply getting out of bed and bathing.
- After you have your list of the things you do, make a list of all the things you’d love to do. Don’t let time or resources stop you–write down everything you’d do for self-care no matter how extreme it may seem.
- Next, think of a typical day and create a schedule: write down the times of the day and what you do each hour. After you have your schedule, underline how many things in your day involve self-care. If you have a lot of self-care, great! If you don’t, see where you can add some in. Remember, this might be as simple as taking five minutes to meditate in your car before going into work. Or taking a 10-minute walk on your lunch break.
- Lastly, write out a typical week, Monday through Sunday, and see how much self-care you can fit in. Look at what you currently do for your mind, body and soul and add more where you need to. When you’re done, add one or two things from your list of things you’d love to do, but haven’t tried yet. See where you can fit it into your week or month.
- Remember, while self-care should be practiced every day, it is not feasible to do everything every day, so do what you can and build from there. Also, work self-care into your schedule with ease. For example, it took me years to attend a weekly yoga class because the thought of going to something every week was too overwhelming. I did yoga at home until I finally got the courage to try it in person. Now I rarely miss a week.
I wish you all the joys of exploring and practicing self-care. May your journey to yourself be fruitful and fulfilling.
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