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Beyond Traditional Self-Care

When spa baths and oils are not enough.

I will be the first to promote and advocate self-care rituals as the tools to help ease stress, anxiety, and whatever rigors one may be facing. As a parent, a nonprofit contract worker, and the manager of Well&Co, there have been ample times that my mindfulness practices were ineffective. Let’s face it, COVID-19 has been the greatest challenge for everyone everywhere.

Well&Co was curated around mindful living habits, yet my current emotions were contradicting my writing. Therefore less content was filling my blog due to my inability to find the mental balance and stability I traditionally champion to my readers. How could I write and propose one thing if I was struggling myself? Many times I transcribed the following sentence in my daily journal, “take your own advice!”, and often, that was easier said than done.

Guilt has also lingered in my psyche. I would feel shame for the emotions I was experiencing. Who was I to feel stressed when others have greater hardship?  Who was I to even complain? As such, I would try to move forward each day on my work deliverables, family obligations, volunteer commitments, and when possible, embrace me-time. With each mindfulness practice, the transition to a place of calm was arduous.  Slowly I came to recognize my lethargy was not only caused by stress and anxiety, but also burn out.  The hours of traditional self-care methods I rely on lacked the anticipated outcome. 

As time passed I began to reevaluate what mattered to me. Being happy is ideal, but being calm and at peace sounded more rewarding. Therefore my daily planner required reappraisal.  While many tout the idea of busy as glamorous and empowering, busy was rightfully destroying me. My level of busyness was restraining me from helping myself, and therefore, burn out was the end result. Learning to press the pause button is the hardest thing one can do. When we are programmed to be busy as Brene Brown writes in her book, Dearing Greatly, this act becomes the universal numbing strategy to ignore pain or past trauma. 

Learning to establish boundaries in the personal and professional arena was the necessary self-care required to rehabilitate some of my stress and anxiety.  Reevaluating the definition of self-care beyond spa baths and oils were vital, most notably as I entered a continued month in COVID-land.  Redefining mindfulness as it pertains to my health, has been liberating, but not an absolute correction.  This is just one leap towards better health and wellness.

True self-care is determining what you choose to accept and the actions you take to create healthy changes. Building a support system that you can rely on, curating healthy boundaries, and placing pride aside to seek help are major proponents in nourishing our mental health.

If you think you are experiencing burn out, please consider what tasks you can relinquish or seek aid for, while initiating limits that protect your mental wellbeing. No one is judging. This is a pandemic everyone is facing.

I hope this post helps put in perspective that everybody is struggling in some capacity, even me, the one who writes and advocates mindfulness practices. Being able to redefine self-care as it pertains to your health is a start in the right direction.

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