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30-DAY Self-Care Challenge

Updated: Sep 21

How to boost your self-care and fill your emotion/energy bucket in a sustainable way.


Welcome back!

Recently, Stacy Keller, LPA-A, of Ridgeville Counseling graciously provided us a fantastic guest blog post with tips for thriving in the back-to-school season.


It got me thinking about self-care. The suggestions she provided were based on setting boundaries and communicating effectively.


As I reflected on her post, it occurred to me that these are not just nice tips to keep yourself and your family sane as the back-to-school season descends upon us all.


In my humble mama-therapist opinion, this IS self-care.


The sad fact is that we must remind ourselves to slow down enough to take care of our needs and keep our priorities balanced because, as true American culture dictates, we MUST BE BUSY.

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Idle time is wasteful. It’s selfish. Says American culture, anyway. And as many of you parents know, there is no time to waste anyway. Especially in seasons of transition. For many of us parents, the days of lounging on the couch on a weekend or doing something for yourself when you want to simply because you feel like it, disappeared the day our first child was born.


We, as a culture, have swung the opposite direction. What took the place of this time is now, “What do the kids want to do? And “What do the kids need?” Take if from me, I hear this from almost every single parent provide with sessions. Not only them, but the moms and dads I know personally as well.


Yes, of course, kids are priority. But how can you prioritize them if your bucket of love and energy is constantly running on empty?


Do you find yourself feeling resentful of your child(ren) for being… well… childlike? For needing and wanting your undivided attention. For jumping on you to satisfy rough play and sensory input needs. For testing boundaries with you to see if the rules are still the same as they were yesterday so that they know where they stand in the household. To see if you are reliable and trustworthy. And to see if they are ok to be themselves. No matter their age today, these behaviors are incredibly normal, important even, in developmental stages.


You are the center of their world. And that is a HUGE responsibility; one that you had no clue you were signing up to carry when your first child was born.


So, is it possible you believe you do not deserve to prioritize what fills your love and energy bucket so that you can actually enjoy this life as the sands of time slip through the hourglass?


Before you look at yourself in the mirror tomorrow morning, again, thinking “Where did these wrinkles come from?” and “Wow, I look really tired", try something new instead.


Try to prioritize your own well-being equally with that of your family. I promise you that if you are successful, you will achieve three important goals:



#1 Avoid loss of identity


How many couples have you heard of that completely lost their connection, or self-identity when their children left the house? This is called "empty-nesting" and it's a plague that is even considered common in our society. It does NOT have to be this way! I think of so many couples that I provided counseling with who named the culprit of their lack of connection and personal identity as "we focused on the kids and now, we have nothing to do." I challenge: "You have two tasks. One is yourself and one is your relationship." This is nothing profound, but when it's spelled out and priorities are rebalanced, we see near immediate results. It's kind of incredible what perspective can do for a marriage and self-identity.



#2 Improve overall life satisfaction

What would you do with today, next week, next month, and this year if you were the only one you had to think about? Write it down on a piece of paper so that you can reference this later.


Now. what would you do with that time given your current responsibilities? Is there anything that you should cross off the list that is not possible, even with the best problem-solving efforts you can muster?


Is there anything left? If there is, this is your vision for yourself. This is your priority. If you find it is balanced and would benefit your quality of life, go for it! Make small steps to get to the outcome you want.


If there isn't anything left that wasn't crossed out, you can challenge whether your original wants/needs are actually reachable or try again with a list of more attainable wants/needs.


This exercise does two things primarily:


1. Build what us therapists call "self-efficacy." That is, to prove to yourself that you can affect the world around you.

2. Directly relieve stress for having the need(s)/want(s) met.



In the words of Batman, "Everything's impossible until somebody does it."







#3 Regain the joy of being a parent


Sometimes, we need to hear "permission" from someone else that they are allowed to think/feel/do something new or different. I'm offering this to you now if you are one of those people (much like myself).


Let me ask you a question…


When was the last time you were truly in the moment with your little (or not-so-little) person who wants nothing more than to have your support, acceptance, and possibly even approval?


For those of you who are parents of older kiddos, when was the last time you walked at their pace through the day?


When did you have a day that you learned something new about them because you were observing with curiosity rather than moving from task to task with or without them?


This way of life is a luxury for those of us who do not engage in self-care because we have no energy to spare.


My dear friend, it does not have to be this way. It can change. Today. To un-learn not helpful habits and replace them with helpful ones, it takes practice, practice, practice.


So, let's start with a nice round number of 30 days of practice, why don't we?


My pledge to you is that I will do this with you!


I’ll even help you get the ball rolling with some tips below.


To get yourself more acquainted with self-care, try the following:


Self-Care for When you feel….


Angry

Exercise! I’m talking full cardio workout. Get your hands above your head and get your sweat on for at least 30 minutes. Research shows that stress-inducing hormones reduce significantly, and stress-relieving hormones are increased with exercise. You also increase oxygen and blood flow to your heart, gut, and brain, which improves overall health and physical function.


Jealous


Focus on yourself, your qualities and what makes you who you are that is different than others. Reflect on your value regardless of what others think, say and feel about you. What is your opinion?


Anxiety


Be more mindful. Observe yourself and inner thoughts. What are the judgments you are passing on yourself? Are they real, or are they coming from a place of insecurity that does not serve you? Is it a place of worry, or concern for the past or future that you cannot control?




Irritated


Widen your perspective. Less fixating on what is irritating you at hand. Do something

that feeds your soul and spirit. Try prayer. Try drinking a glass of water. Take yourself to the bathroom and relieve yourself or splash some water on your face. Take a break and shift your energy. See if your irritability doesn’t budge.



Tired


Turn the phone off and go to sleep! Seriously. No social media. No shopping. No anything. At most, turn on a white noise machine or listen to a guided meditation. If you are tired, it’s simple. Prioritize not just rest or low-key activities. Let. Yourself. Sleep.




Uninspired


Take a shower, engage all your senses. Ground yourself. Close your eyes and body

scan all of your five senses. Where is there tension? Where is it coming from? What do you feel in your body? How does your heartbeat feel under your hands? How does your breath feel in your stomach, nose, and throat?


Self-doubt


Journal. Allow a stream of thoughts to spill out. Is your doubt founded on “what ifs?” or, are you feeling afraid of past circumstances that might replay in the future. Are you seeking control, and can you express to yourself unapologetically be expressive and curious about why you doubt yourself?


Depressed