The best and most effective way to take care of YOU.
I keep hearing that I’m supposed to be doing a lot of “self care.” I get it, I mean, I’m a single Mom, with 3 kids, I run a business, and I own a home, by myself. Who else is going to take care of me if I don’t do it? The challenge is that running from one kid’s dance class to another at piano to the orthodontist to cooking dinner and cleaning up, I don’t have any time left!
At the beginning of 2018, without any warning, I experienced a time of absolute crisis in my life, and due to a total lack of self care, I fell apart, and I didn’t handle things well, in fact, I was a total disaster. I learned a big lesson that we HAVE TO take care of ourselves, even when we feel good, even when we’re too busy, so that we can handle the tough times as they come, and they will inevitably come.
Many of us see “self-care” as things like a facial, or a pedicure, those things are nice, they’re a treat, but they’re aren’t a requirement for being “healthy,” and they don’t provide us with mandatory health benefits that we need to stay strong. The words self care really refer to what you do to care for your health, on a regular basis. How do you keep your body functioning optimally, giving you the fuel you need to take on every day?
During my time of crisis, I became desperate for anything that would provide comfort and strength. After trying what I think is nearly every modality of self care, I created a list of ideas for sustainable options, things we can continue on a regular basis to maintain our health and strength.
There are three priorities to consider when choosing which type of care to provide for yourself.
Does it actually make you FEEL BETTER? Does that feeling last beyond the treatment? Do you feel that “better” feeling for the rest of the day, maybe even into the next day? This is key.
Cost, this isn’t a factor for everyone, but it’s really important for me, self care needs to be sustainable long term, not just an expensive gift, one time, but something that you can continue to utilize and provide for yourself.
How much time does it consume? Let’s face it, we’re all super busy, and self care cannot take up hours out of my week, I don’t have hours available, I have minutes, and these things need to be efficient and convenient.
This form of self care deserves a full description because not only do we NEED it, to be strong and healthy, but it feels good too. Well, it feels good after I’m done, not during. To be honest, other than walking, I haven’t been working out for almost a year. I know I need to do weight resistant exercise to keep my bones strong ( yes, my bones, it’s the best way to prevent osteoporosis). Truth is, other than easy yoga and walking, I freakin hate exercising. I tried everything to talk myself into going to the gym, and I just couldn’t get motivated. Then, I found an affordable trainer who only charges $20 for a half hour session, turns out, he has a deal where you spend $200, and get 10 sessions! I FEEL BETTER. I’m feeling stronger for sure, AND people are noticing. Having people ask what I’m doing different, having them say, you look really good, feels really good.Exercise is a form of self care that promises to provide a stronger you, we know how important it is. This one isn’t really optional, it’s mandatory.
Another attempt at regular self care, a massage. I know that massage is great for relaxation, it’s good for promoting circulation, and can provide pain relief. So luxurious, the smell of coconut oil and lavender, soft music, it did feel WONDERFUL. The whole experience was wonderful. However, it was $65, plus I tipped her $10. Whoa, $75. There’s no doubt that it was worth the money, I loved every second of it. If I had an extra $300 per month, I’d get massage every week, for sure! It’s truly a wonderful gift, and that’s exactly what it’s going to have to be for me, a gift, occasionally. I know, I know, those corporate massage chains are cheaper, but honestly, I don’t like supporting giant corporations, I prefer to find a local therapist who’s trying to make a living at a local business. Bottom line is massage feels great and I know it’s healthy but it’s not sustainable for me financially. It’s instead, a special treat now and then.
I apologize in advance to any therapist who is reading this, and especially those who are gifted at their job. I really hope I don’t offend anyone. Unfortunately, for me, paying someone ( upwards of $100 a pop) to listen to me talk, just didn’t feel worth it. I did 6 weeks with two different therapists, and I really felt like I was being made to dwell on the negative things in my life, dredge up old issues from the past, I did a lot of crying, and honestly, I left the therapist’s office feeling worse than I did when I went in. Now, again, I know, I do KNOW that there are gifted therapists out there who really help people but for ME, during this particular difficult time, talk therapy didn’t pull me out of the rut that I was in, or change my thinking, or solve my problems, it didn’t make me feel better. The most recent research is starting to show that even Psychologists are aware of the fact that basic talk therapy doesn’t show much promise long term. Here’s a great write up, from the NY Times, if you’re interested in reading the facts.
Hypnosis and Life Coaching
After struggling with talk therapy for 6 weeks and not feeling better, my dear friend said to me, I think you need a Life Coach and not a therapist. I took my time researching the idea and I found a coach who is a single Mom of 2 kids and a business owner, and I knew that i wanted to work with her. I’ve currently been her client for 6 weeks and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that it is life changing. We don’t talk about the past or dwell on all that is wrong with my life, she gives me work to do, books to read and ideas for improving my life and it works. I needed concrete ideas to move me forward, and that is what she has given me. One of the things that my coach uses is Neuro-Linguistic Programming ( NLP), it’s a form of personal development that works with thought patterns, and helps to redirect the thoughts that can keep us stuck in life. Doing this work was so effective for me that it reminded me of how much I love hypnosis, so, I decided to do that too! Hypnosis is similar to NLP in that it redirects thought patterns, it gets into your subconcious mind, where those limiting thoughts are stored and helps to change them. Hypnosis and Life Coaching are both game changers for me. They aren’t what I would call affordable, but they are worth every penny.
Well, obviously, you know that I’m going to talk about how great acupuncture is but the truth is that I totally forgot about it and didn’t do it for the first two months of this difficult time. I do it for a living every day but somehow, I didn’t think to get it done for me. It wasn’t until a woman came in to my office one day, a new patient and she was just emotionally frazzled. She was really hurting, in the midst of terribly divorce, and she just couldn’t stop crying. I brought her back to the community room (only $20-45 btw), put her in a big comfy recliner chair and diffused some lavender oil in the room. Here’s the thing about acupuncture, it has a chemical reaction in the brain (releasing endorphines and raising dopamine), it does this because we break the surface of the skin with the acupuncture needles, setting off a healing frenzy in the brain that shifts everything in the body. I watched this woman go from crying, despair, and hopelessness to falling asleep, and waking up so relaxed and transformed.
She started coming in every other day for a couple of weeks, (if you pay the minimum, you can afford that pretty easily)and I suddenly realized that community acupuncture is one of the best forms of self care! It’s relaxing, it’s healing, AND it’s affordable. It’s also efficient for me, time wise, i can get in and out in 30 minutes, and that’s important in my busy life.
You know the old saying, ” The cobbler’s children have no shoes?” That was me with acupuncture during my life crisis. I treated everyone else and forgot about me. Since March, I’ve been getting two treatments per week and I can’t believe I waited so long. I’m sleeping better, my headaches are gone and emotionally, I’m so much more relaxed.
If private acupuncture were the only option, there’s no way that I could afford it on a regular basis ( it’s $75-110 each time!) but with community style, it’s affordable and efficient. Here’s more about community acupuncture if you’re interested.
I’ve learned a lot about myself during this very difficult time. One thing that strikes me the most though is the idea that I only focus on myself, and taking care of myself, when there’s a crisis. I can’t imagine how much better I could handle a major life crisis, if I were at my best! Self Care takes effort, it takes the investment of time and money, an investment in yourself.
I really think that continuing to learn, continuing to grow and improve, even as were aging, is the key to a happy and fulfilled life. I’m on a mission to live my best life, and taking care of me has to be a priority in order to achieve that goal.