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Episode 6: Self-Care or Self-Sabotage

This is an edited version of a podcast episode. If you prefer to listen, click Make Me Whole Podcast to find this and all my other episodes.

Welcome back to the Make Me Whole Series! Anyone who’s been on social media, or even the internet in general, knows that the big trend right now is self-care. Self-care, self-care, self-care. Everybody defines it differently, and it doesn’t look the same for every individual. If we take a moment to think about it, there really is a fine line between self-care and self-indulgence. People sometimes think that when it comes to self-care, you do whatever you want to feel better. But, as with everything in life, there have to be some limits on what we do. Self-care is supposed to be nourishing and healing, but people can become truly addicted or take it to an extreme.

Go on TikTok or Instagram. Self-care has become so superficial. I mean, how many of us have a Palm Springs house like Kris Jenner where we can just escape, decompress, and listen to the ocean to feel better about ourselves. Go ahead and google self-care products. The number of items you will see is astounding, and oftentimes they are things that we don’t ever really need. But, they’re marketed as necessary, go-to items that will upgrade our lives, heal our souls, and enhance our attractiveness. Now, be honest. How many of you follow influencers who talk the talk without offering any practical solutions? “Be Kind and Love Yourself! Never Give Up on Your Dreams! Take Time for You! Don’t be afraid!” These sayings are all well and good, but also they are coming from an individual who is talking to the general public. They haven’t met you. They don’t know what you’re going through. How could they possibly give you healthy, effective advice about your own self-care?

Why is it that we look to these people to make decisions we need to make for ourselves? We follow their accounts, we watch their videos, we give them our time, and we get energized for a moment, but don’t follow through with any of it. We don’t actually make positive changes in our life. This can be a big pitfall, because when we inevitably look around and see that our lives don’t look like theirs, we find ourselves feeling less than. Our situation starts to look hopeless.

Self care starts with us honestly evaluating our own needs. It doesn’t need to be something that would get thousands of likes and comments on social media. Sometimes the best options are super boring. So today we’re going to talk about some actionable methods to nourish ourselves, critical points to keep in mind when pinpointing our own specific needs, damaging behaviors to avoid, and constructive tips for how we can continue to be authentic to ourselves. I'm sure you agree that nurturing yourself has to be a priority, especially now. So let’s jump right in!

Let’s start with the common tactic of going on vacation. I think most would say that a vacation is one of the best ways to decompress and renew ourselves. But did you decide to throw both middle fingers up in the air and say, “Screw this, I’m going on vacation!”? Or did you make a plan and arrange the time off? There’s a big difference. There’s nothing sexier on my schedule than planned time off. And it’s even more exciting when I have made the deliberate decision to do something in particular with that planned time off, not to mention having the resources set aside for it. It makes it wonderful because guess what? Eventually you have to come back to reality, and if you left impulsively leaving your coworkers to pick up your slack, lied about where you were, or spent money you didn’t have, you have not engaged in taking care of yourself. You’ve just added to the problem. The stress of the coming consequences will ruin the present moment. Who wants that? What I’m encouraging you to do here is take the time you need, but do it in a way that works for you, not against you. Don’t give into the temptation of fixing only the immediate future. Instead, go to your calendar, open it up, and brainstorm about what will serve you, whatever your particular circumstances are. Plan ahead. Make sure you have enough money for it, and get your vacation on! If you listen very carefully, you can probably already hear the waves.

Next up is unwinding with alcohol. Now, I’m going to preface this by saying that I make no judgment on anyone who decides to have a glass of wine at the end of the day so that they can kick back, relax, and ease into their evening. I myself have been known to enjoy splitting a nice bottle of wine and a great charcuterie board. However, if you consider alcohol the way to magically get rid of your stress for good, you’re going to be disappointed because it really does not work that way. Unfortunately, overindulging in alcohol can lead to a lot of health, career, and relationship issues, so going for that third glass of wine or fourth shot might not be ideal when you’re trying to feel better. And no one here said that you should stop drinking if it’s something you enjoy doing responsibly from time to time. It’s the overindulgence that we have to be mindful of. Because again, that’s not going to fix what you feel is wrong. This is just another way to compound your problems.

Thirdly, unplugging from social media. Yeah, there are a lot of us that say, “Girl, you are so stressed! Just turn off your Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok. This way you’re going to be less distracted and you’ll be able to take time for yourself. The rise of social media has become a very toxic habit for a lot of people, and some will tell you it’s a good idea to stop using it, whether permanently or temporarily. But what about when social media is part of your work, your hobbies, or your friendships? It’s not a black and white scenario, so we have to intentionally seek balance. You really have to set realistic expectations so that you can still enjoy the benefits. If you’re a business owner like I am, you may use social media all the time for work. (If you haven’t seen my TikTok videos, you’re missing out!) As much fun as it is to be involved with the social media world, there are limits that we do have to include in our use of it. I use TIkTok as an example because so many of us are using it and it has become very popular in the last few years. But did you know that there are pauses that are purposefully shown on your For You Page? I swear, if you haven’t seen them, you should keep an eye out for them. This person comes on and says, You’ve been scrolling a lot. Maybe take a break. Take it as a cue. And if you have a business where you use social media often, consider getting an assistant or someone who can help you with your posts or engagement. Really consider having someone who can give you the time you need to focus on other aspects of your business.

Retail therapy. Oh, I love this one so much. I’m going to admit here that if I’m feeling blue, is my jam. Yeah, it can get pretty bad if I don’t shop purposefully. Treating yourself in retail therapy is a great way to make yourself a priority. If you’re feeling down, sometimes buying something just for you can be really nice. Now, I’m all for positive reinforcement, but if you spend too much on something nice, then you might have to stop and check those finances. You can’t buy yourself ALL of your favorite things. If you’re on a budget, even small purchases can cause extra stress. I say that I’m on more than I NEED to be, but you best believe I’m using coupon codes. Do I do this so I can buy more? Maybe, but what I’m getting at is that you don’t want to feel regret every time you use something you bought for yourself. Please do not go there.

Self care doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Let me say that again. Self care does NOT need to take a lot of time. All right, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said you CAN’T drink the wine that you want or buy all the pretty things you want to make yourself feel better. You do you. But let’s talk about the positive, practical things we can do in the spirit of nurturing ourselves.

  • How about taking yourself on a date? Remember we’re talking about being an active participant in our own lives. It doesn't mean we have to wait around to see who's going to invite us out to a romantic dinner date. We need to put energy into our relationship with ourselves, just as we would anyone else we care about.

  • How about saying something kind to yourself when you’re looking in the mirror in the morning? Mary J. Blige, one of my favorite singers, has a new song out entitled “Good Morning Gorgeous”. As she tells it, her inspiration was that she was feeling badly about herself and started looking in the mirror every morning and saying, “Good Morning Gorgeous” just to start her day off right. I mean, it doesn’t get easier than that!

  • Allow yourself to take a nap. When you’re tired, you’re tired. Everyone else can get a break, so can you. Taking a nap from time to time can definitely help restore your body and mind.

  • Or you can try reaching out and connecting with someone. We all know we have that one person that we’ve been meaning to call. We know that every time we talk to them on the phone or see them in person, they bring sunshine, brightness, and light to our lives. Someone who will make you laugh or break you out of the rut you’re stuck in.

  • We talked before about scheduling and making plans for vacation. What about scheduling time on a daily basis for yourself? You can make it the same time every day so everyone around you knows it is specifically dedicated and not to be interrupted.

  • Meditation. If you’ve never done it before, it might seem weird at first. Apps like Headspace offer free five to fifteen minute sessions to get you started. And really, it’s just sitting quietly, listening to the inside, ignoring the outside, and letting yourself have some space and time. There are even sessions specifically made to do while taking a walk so you get the benefits of fresh air at the same time!

  • Another great thing you can do for yourself is buy a bouquet of flowers. This time of year there are so many to choose from, and there’s nothing like having a fresh bouquet of flowers on our table or desk. It just gets you feeling all kinds of happy. I don’t care what anybody says, nobody needs to wait for someone to bring them flowers.

  • Find ways to move your body in ways that feel good for you. Believe it or not, I love listening to and dancing to salsa music. It just gives me this sense of joy inside. It gets my blood flowing, and my mood changes instantly.

  • Try something new. You can expand the skills that you have already started developing or maybe branch out in a completely different direction and do something that you were afraid to do in the past. There's nothing like it. So give yourself that. Do something that you’ve never done before.

  • Journaling. A lot of times I suggest that my clients write a gratitude journal. All it involves is picking up a piece of paper and a pen and saying, “This went right today. My coffee was good. I didn’t run into traffic. I got an extra onion ring in my french fries.” It doesn’t matter what it is. We recognize and acknowledge things that made us feel good today. For bonus points, think about the reasons for your gratitude. “I’m grateful for my sister because…”

  • Another idea: people are all about podcasts right now. There are so many out there! Don’t always limit yourself to your preconceived notions about what you want to hear. Try a new genre or pick one that will challenge you every once in a while.

  • Declutter your space. There’s nothing better than seeing a clear desk, and sometimes we get so caught up in business that our area becomes a catch-all. So decluttering it, getting rid of trash that should have gone weeks ago, clearing papers from the top of places, finally tackling that one bit of paperwork you’ve been meaning to do for so long? Yeah, that makes all the difference in the world.

  • And finally, if your To-Do List gets overwhelming, take a breath and make a Done list. That means write a list of things you’ve done, no matter how small they might seem. When you’ve finished, celebrate! Take some time to notice how much you’re actually achieving, and then let that motivation move you forward.

Look, many times everything and everyone in the outside world gets taken care of first, and what we need takes the back seat. This is why it is so important to be intentional about self-care. I don’t like the word “should”, but I'm going to use it in this instance. Remember, self-care is meant to nurture you and fill you up, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If there’s one thing to take time for in your life, that should be it. No ifs, no ands, no buts.


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