Whenever those around me are experiencing hard times or are hurting, I am the first to ask them what they are doing to practice self care. However, when it comes to actually practicing self care, I am pretty terrible. I don’t exactly practice what I preach.
Well, in the last week or two, I have been struggling. Between the loneliness of being in a new city, a bunch of online blogger drama, tragedies in the lives of those I love, tragedies nationally and internationally, and struggles with my own personal demons, I should be doing more to take care of myself. But, in true Jamie fashion, I just smile and push on.
In college, one of my mentors and close friends committed suicide. I was devastated, and I struggled with depression for many months. The funny thing, though, is that almost no one knew. I was a public figure on campus (student government, lots of clubs, all that silly jazz), so I just sighed heavily and put on a fake smile before leaving my room every day. Then I came home and cried myself to sleep. If it weren’t for a few close friends and one professor, all of whom forced me to focus on taking care of myself, I don’t think I would have survived that time in my life.
Though I am not quite THAT bad about self care these days, I haven’t improved much. About two months ago, I let a close friend know that I was struggling with some intense feelings of loss and sadness. She helped me check in with myself about why, and she encouraged me to practice some self care. And I did. For about a day.
Last night I was talking to her on the phone, and she asked how I was doing with the heaviness I shared a few months back. My response, “I honestly haven’t been dealing. I am just so busy. It’s there in the background, and I should probably do more about it, but right now, I am just trying to get settled into my new city and trying to invest in my partnership.” Her response: “Jamie, take care of yourself.”
Then this morning I saw this piece at Everyday Feminism, an amazing blogging community that you should definitely be following. In it, Melissa Fabello reminds us who work for justice that it can be really heavy work that drains our bodies and our souls, and she offers a few suggestions for self care.
Between these two reminders and my partners’ almost daily reminders to practice a little bit of the self love, I think it’s time I do so. As I sat down to blog today, my busy-minded self shouted, “You need to get on that piece about how only using the Lisak & Miller study to talk about perpetrators of sexual violence is dangerous!” And from another corner, I heard a shout of, “That promo video for your corporate consulting is not done yet.” And, “Don’t you need to work on the content for that upcoming keynote?” Endless. That voice is powerful, the voice inside of me that says, “Self care is unimportant. Stay busy. Then it won’t hurt.”
But today, if not for me then for my partner, my dog, my friends and family members that rely on me and love me, I am taking a few minutes to focus on self care.
When I entered a comprehensive training to become an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, I showed up on the first day with a box of tissues. I had heard about the program, and I knew there would be a lot of crying. On the first day, though, there were no tears. Instead, we were given an amazing assignment. We were to create a “Self Care Plan.” We had to create some sort of list of things we would do to practice self care as we went through the advocacy training program. We were told that some items should be small, easily accomplished in a moment or with a few minutes time. ”Think deep breaths,” we were told. Other items in the plan should be longer-lasting, along the lines of taking 15 minutes, half an hour, or a whole evening to ourselves.
After completing the assignment, I had a self care plan hanging in my bedroom and in my office for a few years. For the last two or three, though, I haven’t had one. Today that changes.
Below is my Self Care Plan, excluding a few of the more personal items, to give you a few ideas as you create your own Self Care Plan.
Quick Action Self Care
1. Close my eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on clearing my mind.
2. Look through a few of the photos of those I love.
3. Cuddle with Chloe (my dog) for a few minutes.
4. Do a few Yoga back stretches
5. Put on any of the following songs:
6. Scream. Loud.
7. Dance. Preferably to Robyn.
8. Rub Chloe’s velvet ears.
9. Hug Chickadee Longbottom (the stuffed animal I’ve had since I was little)
10. Think clearly about at least one of those wonderful people that love you very much.
Self Care That Takes a Little Longer
1. Meditate for 15 minutes.
2. Go for a run with Chloe.
3. Ride your bike hard.
4. Listen to a whole bunch of the songs from ^^THAT^^ list.
5. Turn the music up REALLY loud and allow yourself to cry for a while.
Shaun Tan’s “The Red Tree”
7. Read “The Red Tree” by Shaun Tan
8. Read some of “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White.
9. Spend some time throwing on your wheel.
10. Read a few items from the “Self Care Box” (a box of letters from people who love me).
11. Call S, N, B, J, E, K, or S. Or call all of them.
12. Work in your garden.
13. Make an elaborate meal for someone you love.
These are just a few of the things I need to be doing more often in my life. What suggestions do you have for self care? What songs do you listen to? What movies do you watch?
Whatever they are, please take some time this week for self care. You need it. We all do.