As the class portion of grad school wrapped up and I knew I was heading into the real work portion of the program, I made a vow to really focus on taking care of myself.
I didn’t do that very well when I was working full time for the first two and a half years of grad school, and it showed in my waistline, my skin and the blue circles permanently under my eyes.
It also showed in my irritation with my kids and my often sad moods. Everything was a chore. Even fun events were just one more task to be checked off. There was no joy. I was fat, tired and grouchy. My life was out of control and I was no good to anyone.
I promised myself this time would be different. In the weeks after the kids went back to school but before I started my internship I tried really hard to establish a routine that kept my wellness out front. Because a broken therapist, much like a broken wife and mother, is useless to everyone, mostly herself and the hadn’t worked so hard to finally get to my dream career and hate it.
So, I found exercise classes that worked with my future work schedule. I went back to yoga. Mind you, I hate exercise, so this doesn’t feel much like care on most days, but intellectually I know it makes me feel better. So, I drag myself to the track or onto a bike at least 4 days a week and hit the yoga mat the other days so I am moving in some way nearly every day and it works. I feel better and getting dressed is no longer a chore because I no longer hate the way I look in clothes.
At night, I have much less reading and writing for school, so I’ve been like a chain-smoker with Susan Mallery serial romance novels. I got one in a gift bag at a Momtrends event, started it on the train home and have been hooked on all the couples of Fools Gold ever since. Their tidy little lives full of charm and witty romantic banter are just the medicine my tired mind needs.
Throw in the last few weeks of endless Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies and it’s a miracle my mind hasn’t totally turned to mush.
Mostly though, I’m trying to really be mindful and present in my daily life. When I have a few quiet moments in front of the tree, rather than focus on only having a few quiet moments I cherish having them at all.
When I’m with my kids, rather than worry about being late or chores that aren’t done, I focus on how funny they are or how their growing up and independent isn’t bitter, but rather sweet evidence of a job well done.
Self care is a concept often thrown around in counselor world with very little explanation of exactly what it should be. So far, based on the way I’m loving this new job and still enjoying life outside of it, I think maybe I’ve figured out what self care means to me. Being mindful of the small moments. Focusing on all that is good as often as I can. And of course, a little fitness, a little family and a little fluff all make up the magic combination for a fully well me.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.