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Cultivating Resilience: Self-Care

Cultivating Resilience: Self-Care

As we continue to explore how to develop skills that cultivate a resilient spirit, we turn our attention this month to a popular buzzword you may even be a little weary of- self-care! 

(Just joining us or looking to review previous “Cultivating Resilience” posts? See here, here, here!).

Self-care is a concept that we hear lots about in terms of our mental wellbeing, but how many of us can really cite what effective self-care is, or why it matters in terms of our resilience? It may seem like a trendy reason to “treat yo self”, but where do you draw the line between self-centered behaviors and meaningful work that really sustains and rebuilds you?

Self-Care: Practicing Wellness

Self-care is the act of focusing our thoughts and behaviors onto things that contribute to our own wellbeing. It’s tending to the basic building blocks of mental health. Self-care can be found in a range of different areas of our life- social, physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and so on.  For example, at times we may find ourselves in need of some social self-care- checking in with friends or family, serving others, or attending a meaningful event in spite of your never ending to-do list. Other times, we may need to turn our attention to physical self-care- making effort and time to reboot and get serious about sleep, focusing on adequate hydration and nutrition, or investing time in discovering movement your body enjoys. How can you imagine yourself addressing self-care needs in areas of emotional, spiritual, or intellectual wellbeing? As you can see, self-care can take many forms and look different depending on the individual and the season of life you find yourself in.

Don’t know where to start?

I would recommend downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace, or making a goal to practice mindfulness through activities like journaling, yoga, or other spiritual practices like prayer. Mindfulness practice is something that doesn’t have to be involved or picture perfect, and the benefits are plentiful! Mindfulness has been shown to help slow down our reactions and build feelings of peace and habits of rest into our life.

Myths of Self-Care

Now that we’ve talked about what self-care is, let’s talk about a few things that self-care is not! Self-care is not selfish. It’s not frivolous. It’s not something that has to be expensive or time consuming. Self-care is also not a one-and-done kind of thing! The goal with self-care is to build it into your routine so that you are regularly filling your bucket.

Self-Care and Resilience

The tie between self-care and resilience is that through the regular and effective practice of caring for yourself, you are giving yourself resources to manage stress. We all probably can think of friends or loved ones who deal with stress by numbing out or turning to maladaptive coping (drugs and other risky behaviors). You may even recognize those tendencies in yourself! However, when we are regularly practicing self-care, we go into stress better equipped to handle what comes our way. When we practice effective self-care, we reserve within ourselves personal wellsprings of resilience!

Give Yourself Permission

While you consider your own approach to self-care, remember the fundamental truth that you are worthy of care. Give yourself permission to explore areas of self-care and experiment with what fills you up and leaves you renewed. You are worth the effort to take care of!

 

 

Cultivating a Resilient Spirit

Cultivating a Resilient Spirit

Welcome back for another segment in “Cultivating a Resilient Spirit”. You can catch up on our introduction HERE and part one HERE. This month, we are going to be digging into how we experience distress, why it matters, and how to increase our coping through distress tolerance skills.  (more…)

8 Ways to Thrive in Uncertain Times

8 Ways to Thrive in Uncertain Times

Times are tough! Talk about uncertainty. We are in the middle of a pandemic that has left us scared and scrambling. Our world has been turned upside down almost overnight and there is an eerie stillness on the streets at night. (more…)

Cultivating Resilience

Cultivating Resilience

I’m not going to sugar-coat it: life can suck sometimes.

It can drain us and stretch us and break us in ways we didn’t even know were possible. I’m not here to try to tell you any differently. Life can just really suck at times. (more…)

Sacredness in Tears

Sacredness in Tears

Several months ago I attended a funeral for a bright blue-eyed baby that fought his hardest for his 12 days of life. His incredibly strong parents shared a quote by Washington Irving that has stuck with me since.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.”

Long story short, my husband and I have struggled to start a family. It is no major surprise since it seems to run in the family, but struggled nonetheless. After almost a year of trying, the little stick finally showed two lines – pregnant! My immediate thought was “this is too good to be true” and “it can’t be this easy for me.” I could feel myself becoming over the moon excited for a baby to come this summer.  

I repeated the whole pee on a stick thing six times just to really confirm the first positive test. Six times. Just one day after the positive pregnancy test, I had a crib picked out, four pregnancy books bought, a list of my top five favorite boy and girl names written in sharpie (sharpie is a big deal for me), and my eight-week appointment set. I was ready for this baby.

My husband left to go out of town for a week for a work conference. That very day I started to feel a bit off. Over the weekend I started to have some symptoms that are typical for the first few months of pregnancy but also overlap with some symptoms of miscarrying. This being my first ever pregnancy, I had no idea how to tell the difference. I made it through the weekend and on Monday met with my doctor and learned that I miscarried. Devastation started welling up in my eyes and tears began pouring out of me.  

My husband was 1,800 miles away. My parents were over 2,000 miles away. And, since I parked in the wrong parking lot, I had to walk almost a mile to get back to my car. Balling my eyes out. Washington Irving’s quote came to my mind and this salty water coming out of my eyes started to take on a whole new meaning.

Lessons from my tears

  1. Tears are sacred. The tears that were continuously streaming down my face were in respect and reverence for our little family’s loss. We were overjoyed at the thought that we would be starting our own little family. The tears were not just salty drops coming from my eyes because of my hormones or because the nurse that drew my blood said something insensitive, but in respect for what could have been. We could have had a child together this summer and knowing that it wasn’t going to happen was overbearing. My tears meant something. My tears are sacred.
  2. Tears are powerful. My husband has not actually cried since his grandmother passed away over 5 years ago. He’s been teary while watching a Nicholas Sparks movie or two but has not legitimately cried since 2014. As I listened to him cry over the phone I did not associate his tears with weakness. All I could think about was the power that comes with becoming a parent. Granted, parents are not perfect, they are human and make mistakes, but regardless of those faults, parental power carries some major weight. His tears over someone he had never even met yet showed me the power of love that can come with becoming a parent. Tears are powerful. 
  3. Tears speak. I had a kidney stone a few months ago and I shed many tears as that little sucker was making its world debut. There is something definitively different between cries of physical pain versus cries of emotional pain. Instead of my kidney bursting, my heart ached like it had never ached before. I already loved that 5.5-week, sesame-seed-sized, little human and the thought of never getting the chance to meet him/her was too much that all I could do was cry. I love the segment in Irving’s quote “[the tears] speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.” I didn’t need someone to give me a bunch of advice, nor did I need to explain to everyone how I was feeling, I just needed someone to sit and cry with me.

I used to think that if I was not physically hurt, then crying was not needed – that it was a time that I just needed to “suck it up” and move on. I have learned that tears are not only meant for scraped knees or kidney stones, but for emotional pain too.

Own the Present

Own the Present

I was recently told something that has been on my mind for a bit. I can’t remember the exact quote, but the message was this: you can’t change the past, and you can’t control the future, the only thing you have power over is the present. (more…)

Failed Lately?

Failed Lately?

We had on our hands what the internet calls a “Pinterest fail”.

My family sat in stunned silence. All eyes were on the platter I was placing on the table for dinner of something completely unidentifiable. Siblings nervously glanced sideways at each other. I waited, trying to predict which family member would be brave enough to say something first- and wondering how long the line at the Chick-fil-a drive thru was. (more…)