Re-evaluating Self-Care

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, curator of Well&Co. and the numerous other hats I wear, there have been ample times that my mindfulness practices were ineffective. Let’s face it, the pandemic has been the greatest challenge of all challenges for everyone everywhere, even during the aftermath.

I created Well&Co. around mindful living, yet my current emotions were contradicting my writing. Therefore less content was filling this 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.

Feelings of guilt have also lingered. I would feel guilty for feeling the emotions I was experiencing. Who was I to feel stressed when others have greater hardship?  Who was I to even complain when others may have less? As such, I would try to move forward each day and follow through on work deliverables, family obligations, volunteer commitments, and when possible, embrace me-time. With each mindfulness practice, the transition to a place of calm was becoming arduous.  Slowly I came to recognize my lethargy was not only caused by stress, but also burnt  out and grief.  The hours of self-care methods we not aiding my needs no matter the effort I put forth. 

As time passed I began to reevaluate what mattered to me. Being happy was ideal, but being calm and at peace was the optimal reward. Therefore my daily mindfulness planner required reappraisal.  While many tout the idea of  stating “busy” as glamorous or somehow important, busy was rightfully destroying me, and I recognized that in my journal pieces. 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 one the hardest things to do.  Since birth, or so it seems, we are programmed to be “busy” but as I have come to learn, busy is often an excuse to dismiss pain or reality, and “busy” can backfire. As Brene Brown writes in her book, Dearing Greatly, “one of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy” which is not a healthy realistic lifestyle.  

Learning to establish boundaries in the personal and professional arenas was the requisite self-care required to rehabilitate some of my stress.  Reevaluating the definition of self-care was key, most notably as the pandemic continued.  Redefining mindfulness as it pertains to my health has been liberating, but not the end-all-be-all.  This was just one step in the right direction of better health and wellness.

Today, while our world is slowly opening up, many of us still remain busier than ever yet our brains cannot healthily operate if our psyche is juggling numerous tasks. So where do we go from here? For some, and myself included, it is pressing the pause button and allowing the ego to ask for help. Many feel shame in seeking support, but help is ultimately the best gift you can give yourself. The ripple effects will impact  your home-base, relationships, your career and other endeavors.  But most of all, when we are vulnerable enough to ask for help, that is the defining moment of new growth and the first step in healing.  My personal bravery  to ask for support and altering my mindfulness practices beyond journaling, spa baths, and wellness podcasts was an integral reevaluation of my self-care process. While I still  advocate and utilize those preceding practices, I knew I needed to evolve further for myself and family.

As I am far from perfect and learning each day about this thing called life, join me in embracing vulnerability. Know that seeking help and support is a beautiful resource. For some, we  have to hit rock bottom in order to get life back into alignment, and while it may feel like shame, in the end, gratitude will greet you. Be proud of you. Never give up. Keep trying and know you are not alone. I am right here with you.

{Mindfully curated by Debra Gudema for Well&Co.}

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