Me, Myself, and I: Making Self-Care a Priority in 2020
By Marsha F. Warren, Ed.S. LPC, CPCS
I would like to begin by thanking Dr. Jackson for the opportunity to share some of my many experiences with such a group of valued followers and subscribers. To set the foundation for today’s post, it is important to note that I have worked in the area of clinical mental health for more than twenty years. I am also a Licensed Professional Counselor and currently work as a school counselor; in addition to operating a small private practice in downtown Statesboro.
It is fitting to discuss self-care as we find ourselves recovering from the hustle and bustle of this past holiday season. Each year, we find ourselves succumbing to the demands we place on ourselves when it comes to our personal, family and professional lives. And to think, when we throw social media into the mix, there is added pressure to share, upload, follow, like, and/or post various aspects of who we are for the world to see. In this process, we often find ourselves disclosing representations of ourselves that tend to be in conflict with who we genuinely are as well as how we cope with life’s circumstances from day to day. We often times lose sight of what’s important and become more focused on keeping up images and appearances; while neglecting our self-care.
True Story, I can remember working and becoming a new mom and the difficulties I experienced trying to balance my role as a wife with that of being a professional. It was no walk in the park to say the least! I found myself hiding my pain and the fact that I was overwhelmed in my role as a mom. How could such a significant blessing come with so much fear and self-doubt? How could such a blessing bring about such isolation and loneliness? I even took it upon myself to return to work early as a remedy to further mask my problems and insecurities as a mother. Long story short, I suffered from postpartum depression, but initially refused to get help because I thought that I would let people down.
Everything came to a head during a routine visit to my doctor, I found myself sobbing as I tried to explain how miserable I felt on the inside. This was the first time I was clearly asked to talk about myself as opposed to discussing the joys of having a brand new baby girl. Fighting back tears, I had to be honest with myself. I explained to my doctor that I was not doing a great job caring for my baby. When asked to explain, I stated that I was not able to get out of bed most days, I would cry myself to sleep at night, I was afraid to touch the baby, and there were days when my husband would have to rush home from work when I called him in a panic, demanding that he come home right away. If I am gong to be completely honest, I was afraid of being alone with my baby girl and found myself constantly verbalizing the inadequacies I felt as a new mother. At the time, I was not able to see past the hurt and pain I felt on the inside. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea of being a professional counselor who was suffering with depression. Would clients trust me if they knew that I had my own fair share of problems? To be completely honest, I viewed myself as weak and somewhat of a disgrace to the long line of strong matriarchs within my family system. By faith, and with a strong support system, a good therapist, and medication I was able to pull it together and learned to make self-care a top priority.
Here are a few points to consider when preparing to embark on your own self-care journey:
1. Make room for yourself. Introspection and self-evaluation are key if you are truly committed to becoming a better version of yourself. Ask yourself deep, open-ended questions that examine your own thoughts, ideas and feelings without judgement. Be honest with yourself. Let’s face it, you cannot heal or recover from what you do not reveal.
2. Time is valuable. Generally speaking, people make time for what they value. Your self-care is imperative and therefore requires your investment! As an introvert, I can only spend so much “together time” with family, friends, and loved ones. We all need alone time like we need air to breathe. This is not the time to feel guilty.
3. Take responsibility for your spiritual, physical, and mental wellbeing. Be in tune with your own symptoms of stress, fatigue, or other unusual symptoms and take action to address them. Also, check in with how you think and what thoughts you allow to consume you. Challenge or reframe those negative automatic thoughts as they have the potential to make or break efforts to improve self-care.
4. Last but not least, build a solid support system to include connecting with a good therapist, if needed. Talk therapy or the idea of processing emotions can help clarify feelings and place them in proper perspective.
Questions to Consider
1. What is your definition of self-care? What kinds of self-care do you practice on a regular basis?
2. What needs more or less of your attention as you work to make self-care a priority?
3. In what ways can you boost your overall well being?
Ready, Set, Let Your Self-Care Journey Begin!!!