This post has been on my mind for quite some time now. I’m in the process of learning how to care for myself more effectively; it’s not something that I’m known to be good at. Self-care is fundamental, but is also typically the first casualty of a busy schedule. Life used to be crazy for me, but now I’m trying to slow down. Last year I completed my clinical internship on top of working and attending school. I definitely failed to make self-care a priority, even though my professors emphasized that mental health professionals need to do so. In my line of work, we hear about some awful things that happen to people, the pay is not amazing, no two clients are the same (so it’s hard to measure whether or not you’re doing the right thing for everyone), and we work weird hours a lot of the time. It is so important for me to prioritize self-care. A phrase that has stuck with me is “be good to yourself.” I know that, like many others, I am my own worst critic. I also know that I need to give myself a break. Life is hard enough already without that kind of pressure. My anxiety has always existed, but it got much worse in April 2014 when I was dropped from my first internship before it even started. I began to question myself, my choices, everything. The anxiety wouldn’t go away. I lost many hours of sleep last year, which is (luckily) no longer a problem. I took charge of my anxiety in July 2015, over a year after it started becoming a problem. I know, it took forever, but I did it! How I’ve Been Managing my Anxiety with Self-Care: I started seeing a therapist (again). I’ve been in therapy in the past for grad school, but this time I really needed it. What I’ve learned in therapy has helped me immensely. I learned that my past experiences have been a main contributor to why I feel so anxious about things. I won’t go into detail for privacy reasons, but I finally see that so many feelings I have are due to events that were not my fault at all. Today, I can stop blaming myself for the things that go wrong. I can stop worrying so much about other people judging me. Those things really aren’t that important and often have nothing to do with me as a person. Now THAT is a load off my shoulders! I’m finding new ways to relax. I love coloring, reading, and taking baths! Baths are especially new to me because my previous apartment only had a shower.
I’m practicing self-love. Part of self-care is believing that I deserve it and self-love is about accepting myself. My word of the year is “Acceptance” and I have applied that to myself especially. I’m new to my career and still screw up at times, I’m not always the perfect partner/friend, my desk is super disorganized… But, you know what? That’s ME. I can’t change all of the things I want to change about myself. I can work on the important things, that’s for sure, but I also want to remember that I’m always going to be enough for MYSELF, just as I am. I will always take care of my needs and stop beating myself up about everything. I’m having more fun! Life is short and all work and no play is NO way to live. Unfortunately, that’s what I’m used to. Sometimes, I get anxious because I’m not doing anything productive. Guess what? I’m “allowed” to be unproductive and just watch TV. I can go out after work and not worry about the homework I’m not doing. Now, I look for opportunities to enjoy myself. Andy and I even went to an arcade place last weekend, which was awesome! I’m following my dreams. I’m doing a job I love and am now ALSO spending some of my free time cultivating a side business. Currently, I’m not ready to discuss the details because I need to create more products. I’m still super excited to see where this venture can go because I have a huge passion for it 😀 I’m taking better care of my physical health. Oh my. I have gained some weight since last year. The reality is that I have been eating like crap and exercising less. Since the new year (typical, ha…), I’ve been increasing my visits to the gym and eating one salad every day in January (AKA #SaladJanuary). This is not a calorie counting thing, but more of an eating healthy thing. Now that the month is well over half way complete, I can tell you for certain that I feel WAY better. I’m treating myself! The social worker type of life means a tight budget, but it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Starbucks once or twice a week. It doesn’t mean I can’t buy new running shoes when I need them. It doesn’t mean I can’t have what I want sometimes 🙂 I used to be a stickler about enjoying certain luxuries, but now I let myself indulge every once in a while. Like I said, life is short.
Drinking out of this cat mug makes my mornings WAY more enjoyable!
I’m constantly reminding myself of how far I’ve come (even when I’ve got so far to go). I remember when I saw my first client almost 1.5 years ago (whoa) and doubted myself so much. Now, I have so much more experience and have a lot more tools in my toolbox. It’s not as scary anymore! Sure, I’m not a master clinician yet, but I am so much better than when I started! Apart from my career, I’ve also survived a ton of difficult life stuff and am a way stronger person because of it. I have gone from struggling to run a 5k to running TWO marathons. I still haven’t broken 2 hours on my half marathon, but I know how to get there. I may not be making tons of money now, but I’ve definitely upgraded my living space/lifestyle from what they were only one year ago. I’m striving for progress, not perfection.
I hope this post gives you some good tips for dealing with anxiety. Clearly, I am not perfect because I am 27-years-old and learning how to manage this my anxiety for the first time. I can help my clients with anxiety, but the hardest person to help has always been myself 😛
Remember that growth does not require the pain of anxiety. Remember to BE GOOD TO YOURSELVES. Remember that anxiety may always exist, but it can be managed <3
Oh, and one very important final thought because it’s Martin Luther King, Jr Day:
What is your best self-care strategy?