By Robyn Sarette
If you know me, you know I love to talk about my therapist. I love going to therapy. In one of my recent sessions, we talked about self care and why it is important. I wanted to share that with you all.
It starts with redefining self care to yourself. For a long time, I thought self care was being indulgent or selfish when in actuality, it's taking care of yourself in a healthy way. And that can be physically or mentally. There are so many ways to practice self care and the best part is that it looks different to everyone.
But starting a self care routine can be tricky. I felt like I was being lazy, letting someone down, or procrastinating (something my virgo brain can't handle). I had to retrain myself to think that I wasn't being lazy, I was putting myself first. It required me to check in with myself and ask "how are you today?" or "what do you need?". This could change everyday - my self care plan didn't have to always be the same routine.
My first step was a gratitude journal, an easy one. It was the same five questions that I would answer every night before bed.
1. What are you grateful for today?
2. Who or what made you smile today?
3. What do you love most about yourself?
4. What do you love about your life?
5. What are you most excited about for tomorrow?
I told myself there were no wrong answers, it's ok to repeat answers, don't lie, and don't skip a question. I dreaded this exercise for the first few weeks but found myself feeling better after a couple months. The questions became easier to answer and I enjoyed it. Plus one for my mental health.
Then it was on to my physical health and I blurted out so loud and fast to my therapist that I DON'T EXERCISE. I hate it, I won't do it, don't even bother bringing it up. My therapist said that physical health doesn't always mean exercise, it can be getting enough sleep, eating a salad once in a while, drinking more water, and personal hygiene. I went for the sleep option. I started giving myself a bedtime routine (which included my gratitude journal) and that had to be done at a specific time no matter the day of the week. This was highly annoying at first and I would roll my eyes when my alarm went off that it was time to start getting ready for bed. Over a few weeks I found that I was ready for bed without setting an alarm and I was more productive during the day because I was getting enough sleep. It was a real game changer. Plus one for physical health.
Now this one I was super skeptical about, spiritual self care. I was raised Catholic (yes Catholic high school with the plaid skirt and all) and I no longer practice nor do I find myself wanting to participate in any type of recognized religion. But of course my therapist had an answer for this too. I could meditate, spend time in nature, volunteer, or incorporate random acts of kindness into my day. I went for random acts of kindness. There is no wrong random act of kindness so I started to get little things for my friends to make them smile, made sure I held the door for others when I was out and about, leaving a tip in the jar at the coffee shop, or complimenting the display at the UPS store. This was for sure one of my favorite things to do. Plus one for spiritual health.
Engaging in self-care regularly helped me put my best foot forward. I found that after time, I trained myself to know when I needed to practice a stress reducing activity, or hear my body when it was screaming for a vegetable. I started to feel better about myself because I knew what I needed. Putting yourself first helps make you the best version of yourself and it feels good!