Updated: Sep 21, 2022
You might have read my recent post on the 30-day self-care enhancement challenge. Whether you've decided to take the challenge with me, or haven't started yet, I feel that an important part of succeeding with any change is accountability.
I know, when you hear that "A" word, you might cringe a bit. I get it. Accountability isn't comfortable. But neither is change. So, here we are. I'm going to check in with you, including as much honesty as I can muster! So, here goes!
Week #1: Honestly? I think I made about two cups of chamomile tea for myself, reduced my alcohol intake and that was it. Did I feel less stressed and more in tune with myself by drinking that cup of tea and avoiding the numbing effects of alcohol?
The honest answer is, as you might have guessed, is a big fat NO.
I realized after my pitiful half-attempt of week one that my plan for self-care was far too general. I just wanted to be more compassionate towards myself.
In my head, wanting this would be enough to kickstart the behaviors I needed to reach that goal. It was not.
Luckily, I did reflect and troubleshoot at the end of week 1 and started to get serious about my goal. Afterall, I do have accountability. To myself, my family, my community partners, my clients, and to my blog readers. If I really believe that self-care is a drop in still waters that create a ripple effect of positive influence, it was time to start adjusting my behavior to reflect this belief. Time to get invested, right? So, here we go again. Evaluate and readjust.
Week #2: I made an appointment with a new therapist in my area. Yes, all good therapists have their own therapist. Perhaps we don’t see our therapists regularly, but self-awareness requires that “A” word. I realized that I needed more accountability. I needed support. If I was going to improve self-care, I needed it from someone that does not have an emotional attachment to me. This is because when you have a personal relationship with the person holding you responsible, things inevitably get messy. Someone gets their feelings hurt. The progress stalls or stops entirely. Believe me. Not the best way.
Even in the rawness of my emotions from the time I walked into my session to the substantially increase rawness at time I walked out, I had taken care of myself. I didn’t cancel my appointment because I had “too much to do” or because my brain was just too bogged down with life stuff. I held myself accountable and about 24 hours after this session (which included a fair amount of EMDR), I was more at peace. I had gained traction. Now I just had to sustain it. For me, this looked like listening to podcasts that were brand new to me. Tara Brach runs a free podcast on Spotify. I’ve already run through about three of them. I'm listening to them while cleaning the house, cooking, driving, etc. Pretty much anytime I’m doing (nearly) mindless tasks.
The ripple effect had begun to take effect! My thoughts were softening towards myself and other people (bonus!). Normal irritations were tempered, and self-care was becoming more automatic because my thoughts supported that I deserved it. (Keep in mind, your results may vary. I've worked for years on building these muscles of self-awareness.) I began taking note of how comfortable my clothes were, whether I needed to eat or drink more regularly, further reducing alcohol intake (because I didn’t want or need that relaxation effect I had before).
This is really just the cliff notes version of my experience thus far and yours might be different. In fact, it should be. Because it should be your journey. As unique as you are.
I’d like to be able to say that after two weeks, everything is sunshine and rainbows. That I’ve got this whole thing figured out. However, we all know that life is going to change. Quickly. Slowly. A lot. A little. It doesn’t really matter how. Today might be more difficult than all of last week. And I encourage you to be okay with that as much as you can. Attach yourself to the significance of those things that have gone "wrong" as little as possible. Because the more practice there is at finding balance and readjusting, the more natural it becomes. The more sustainable this change is. That is true self care.
Now, my last two weeks did not end with more tea, podcasts, and a therapy session alone. I've committed to this self-care thing and that means going back to yoga classes in studio regularly, spending more time cooking and baking things I enjoy (by the way the food turns out SO MUCH better when you pay attention to whether you're grabbing baking soda vs. baking powder or salt vs. sugar, etc.). Giving time to the things that feed us both literally and figuratively in turn contributes to this ripple effect we're all looking to build. This might include cooking with someone you love or someone who can teach you how to do it better. The point is: enjoy the process of caring for yourself and avoid making it yet another task that you have to do but do not actually value. Be curious. See what happens.
I wound up this past weekend at the Immersive Van Gogh Experience, which was another stab at this self-care thing. It's incredible how much art can speak to such a variety of different people. There were young, seasoned, curious, serious, and playful all there the night I was. People watching was nearly as entertaining as the immersive experience itself.
I found so many of his quotes posted in a life-size moving monument to this man were focused on what humanity is. What connection, success, and aloneness feels like. This one stuck with me among others... "Success is sometimes the outcome of a whole string of failures," Van Gogh wrote while in Den Haag.
Think on this...
Self-care also looked like using a smudge stick and incense about 3-4x's/week in my home for cleansing and purification to help lift away negative energy.
More than anything so far, I've found that what's most important in sustainable self-care is prioritizing what you need to build a life that you love. Coming over the rest of the next 30 days will be meditation, and more to share soon! Good luck and know that the light in me sees and honors the light in you!
Until next time... here are some suggestions you might find helpful.
This is the kind I used, but you can also find some additional options here if you are more sensitive to smoke or other smells:
(These are affiliate links. I may receive a commission if these links are used to purchase items, but do not receive earnings from sharing them and may or may not have been tested by myself.)