Self-Care: Where to Start


I can't even tell you how excited I am to co-host The Circle link-up with the one and only Kiki from In Its Time blog. I'm even more excited than excited because this month the topic is self-care, something I am SUPER passionate about.


How many of you have high stress jobs in your lives? I'm guessing most of you said amen to that question. Whether you're a teacher stressing about lesson plans, a financial somebody dealing with multi-million dollar deals, or a mom trying to make it through the day without pulling her own hair out, I think we can all agree that we all are stressed. Sometimes I wonder if "stress" is the American way. When I graduated college in 2013, I was offered a nursing position at a top pediatric hospital in the region. I was (and still am) blessed to land the job, but quickly realized that being at a top hospital meant seeing the sickest of the sick. Within weeks of starting my job, I began to see what kind of patients I would be taking care of including sick kidney and liver transplants, badly burned patients, and kids with seizures so severe we sometimes had trouble stopping them. It was high stress, high intensity, and the steepest learning curve I'd ever had in my entire life. 

Nurses joked that in their first year of nursing on our floor they would go home after work each night and cry... except they weren't actually joking. I explain all of this to say that I was faced with a high stress job and quickly had to figure out how to take care of myself so that I wouldn't crack under all the pressure. I've written numerous posts on this subject already (that you can check out here), but want to address how to take care of yourself during a season of change. 

I recently announced that I am now a full time graduate student pursing my master's degree to become a family nurse practitioner. I still work full time, my husband works two jobs, and we will likely be moving out of state in the next few months as my husband seeks to attend physician assistant school. It's a lot of change, but I've established a good routine of taking care of myself that is making this transition a lot easier. I'm hoping that you'll be able to learn from my mistakes and my experiences so that you can take care of yourself better.  

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. 
If I could only give you one tip for self-care, this would be it- prioritize taking care of yourself. It's not going to happen if you don't plan it, schedule it, and prioritize it. Even if it's just two hours on the weekend where I relax on the couch scrolling through Facebook, I make sure to schedule some "me" time. The first few times you do this, you'll probably feel guilty and/or antsy that you should be doing something more productive. Let me tell you friend, the two hours you take for yourself will help you be more productive in the following two hours, I promise. Just keep telling yourself that over and over (I do!)

I know for you mamas, this scheduling thing can be tough. It's a lot easier for me to shut my computer off than it is for you to shut your kid off. If you can, try to arrange an hour where Dad watches the baby, Grandma babysits, or you exchange kid-free time with a fellow mom. Whether you use your hour to shop at Target kid-free, take a nice long uninterrupted shower, or sit and paint your nails, an hour alone will make you a better mom. I can't speak to this myself challenge myself since I'm not a mom yet, but my own mom modeled this self-care behavior in her own life and I promise it's worth the effort. 

Develop a few core routines.. 
In one of my posts on self care, I shared about a book that has changed my life called "God in My Everything" by Ken Shigematsu. This book talks about a "rule of life" or routines that ground you spiritually. I have developed a couple core routines for myself, that no matter how much change or stress I'm going through, these stay the same. For example, on my days off I get up and make myself a cup of coffee and sit down and spend about 30 minutes reading my Bible and praying. This half an hour of a slower morning rejuvenates me beyond belief. In fact, I really struggle if we are going somewhere super early that causes me to miss out on this precious time. This is a routine that I've kept for over two years now, and it's really worked to keep me grounded. 

Another core routine I follow is allowing myself about half an hour at night to just spend time with my husband. Some nights it's more than half an hour, but it's always at least that much (we don't have kids- I know this is a luxury). Doing this allows me to feel more rested for the day ahead, and helps me continue to nourish my marriage which is a hugely important part of self-care. 

Whether it's a daily quiet time, a weekly walk, or a monthly date with yourself, establish some routines that are consistent and that can be kept no matter the time of life. Sometimes there is enough change that these routines need to be adapted and that is okay (see the next point about being flexible). The important thing is that you adapt the routine instead of just forgetting or dismissing it. 

Be flexible. 
Perhaps the most vital component of self-care is having an attitude of adaptability. Every week I have a different work and school schedule and as much as I would like to say that every Saturday morning from 8AM-10AM is "me" time, that's simply not realistic with my sort of schedule. I try and take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to plan out the next few days including blocking out a couple hours of "me time". Flexibility is the biggest asset to you during times of change. No two weeks are exactly alike, and what worked last week may not work this week. It's making self-care a priority and adapting to each week that will allow you to effectively take care of yourself.

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As I've developed a self-care routine over the past two years of having an intensely stressful job, I've seen the benefits over and over. I'm not feeling burnt out like many of my other coworkers, I usually feel mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to fulfill the demands of my job, and perhaps most importantly, I feel like I've become a better person through all of it. 

Taking care of yourself is hard, and gets harder when there's change- whether it's a new baby, a move, a new job, or any other circumstance that heads your way. The important thing is to make it a priority, establish some routines, and at the end of the day be flexible with your self-care routine. Don't give up on it friend, I promise the time spent taking care of yourself makes you much more effective in the world. 

What is the hardest part of taking care of yourself? The easiest? 

Share your thoughts on self care in the comments below and then add your own post to the linkup! 





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