“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation...” - Audre Lorde
As kind, always giving, empathetic humans, we sometimes forget the most important person in this world to give our love and energy to-ourselves. All too often we see our happiest and most generous of people experience burn out; not due to over-giving but to not filling up their own cup before trickling down into others. Just like when a plane is crashing- you can not help the people beside you without putting your oxygen mask on first.
Self-care is hard.
Self-care is not as easy as it sounds sometimes. As givers, we tend to think of others before ourselves and thus don’t even realize when we may not have left anything for ourselves.
Self-care can be hard and foreign for that reason. It’s recognizing your own needs. It’s taking a break. It’s breathing and processing and debriefing and then recycling through that process again. Sure there is an occasional bubble-bath, glass of wine and an unfathomable amount of bad television. But it’s also recognizing, regardless of the struggles of others you are serving, that you are entitled to having your own human reactions to your own human experiences. You got to show yourself some love to ensure the longevity of the fierce, giving person you are.
The need for self-care is even more necessary when working in social services- where we are prone to experience upsets, heartbreak and secondhand trauma. Be ok with the need to self-care, self-improve, and self-love. Also, know you are not in this alone.
Below are some of my personal favorite self-care tips/tricks. I fully recognize every person has different needs so find yourself and what works for you- and don’t hesitate to include others in that journey.
Taking Care of yourself
1. Surround yourself with people who also care about your self-care. Having someone check in on you and keep you accountable for yourself is the most beneficial thing I have found. We all need someone in our circle we can trust, debrief with and can help us recognizing when we aren’t loving ourself like we should.
2. See a counselor. Having a non-judgemental, confidential, listening ear is so helpful in processing through the thoughts or hardships you may be experiencing.
3. Do what you love! For me this is creating art, walking my dog, taking a nap outside in the grass with the wind blowing. Unapologetically do exactly what you love and give yourself that time and space to just experience that happiness.
4. Breathe. Oh, what a necessary cliche. There are several apps and Youtube videos that help with just this. Here are a couple I like.
-Calm (an app) helps you practice your breathing while listening to different elements in Nature
-Headspace (an app) assists in practicing Mindfulness, giving you tasks and videos every day and phone reminder.
-Little Fish (local brewery) has outdoor yoga on Sunday’s that once over gives you super quick access to beer ( this is not a paid advertisement, I’ve just heard a lot of good things)
5. Mix up your routine. We wire our brain to predict what our day will look like so try stepping away from that. Check out Facebook or Athens local library for new events or activities you’ve never done before. We don’t know what we don’t know and you may just find something that brings you more happiness.
6. One of my ALL TIME FAVORITES is busting a move!!! Usually this just looks like me dancing to Al Green in my living room while (sometimes) forcing my dog to dance with me. But this could also be going to a dance-night party (80’s- CASA NUEVA and 90’s-JACKIEOS) and letting loose and meeting new people.
Or, you can join the Athens CASA team every Monday for #moveitmonday where we give ourselves a break, get up and move! Studies show, this enhances moods, creativity and productivity among other things so please join us!
But wait, there’s more! Interested in self-care even more like I am check out the following articles and resources:
(This is a resource specific for working on goals; mine this year just happens to be self-love and creativity)
About the Author: Kalei Edenfield is a Volunteer Coordinator at Athens CASA who enjoys; bad television, videos of babies laughing, her sweet-timid-pitty, her fat-stinky-cat and being an independent, self-loving enthusiast.