“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ~Aldous Huxley
To own and operate my own practice, to provide therapy to those in need for the pure sake of growth and transformation has been a dream of mine since adolescence. I have worked for years, the better part of two decades, to see it come to fruition. I love what I do. Perhaps enjoying what I do for a living is partly responsible for why I feel guilty for stepping outside of my parental role and familial duties to go to my job. It seems like a luxury we sometimes can’t afford. When I leave my home to work on work, it feels like I am expending any time allocated to “me time.” I doubt my husband looks at his job that way. Nor does he view my time spent at work as time for myself. Nevertheless, when I have completed a day’s work, it doesn’t feel right to take time to care for myself when my family has been awaiting my return and requires my attention from the moment I step in the door – to tend to my health needs, physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually often seems selfish and taking away from time owed to my loved ones. But as I was reminded today, with patience worn thin among my wonderful children, it is necessary.
So I’m taking this time to revisit my self-care wheel and share with you some methods for creating your own. It’s a little cheat, I know, combining “me time” with work time. I’ve found, however, that when getting started with a new routine for myself, it often turns out better if I schedule the new as I would any other obligation to another person. So here goes.
You can draw an actual wheel, like the one pictured below, or you can simply list out strategies you’ll put in place to tend to each of the six areas including professional, personal, spiritual, emotional, psychological, and physical.
For me, I’ve let my physical health slide a bit since the birth of my third child. I’ve regained a lot of strength over the past year and lost a lot of the weight, but I haven’t made regular exercise (which happens to affect me a whole lot more emotionally than just physically) a priority the past couple years. It’s no surprise that the back pain I’ve had for years has flared up recently, putting me out of commission for a couple days at a time. Therefore, I’m setting a realistic goal for myself to take an hour and a half outside of the house at least once per week to exercise. I grew up dancing, so I’ll seek out a local ballet or modern dance class. I also practice yoga fairly regularly (though not as often as my ideal), so I will keep my eyes open for a class time that will fit my family and work schedule. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is hike, and Georgia offers several beautiful landscapes to do so.
I’ve signed up for a couple different trainings to advance my professional goals. I’m really looking forward to an upcoming event with Stephanie Cook, LCSW, regarding telemental health, which will prepare me to offer psychotherapy online – be on the look out for new opportunities to work with me through this new convenient avenue!
To address emotional and spiritual areas of care, I’m recommitting myself to a formal mindfulness practice 45 minutes per day. I’ve found what works best for me is splitting that time into two 20-25 minute sessions before my day begins (often before I even swing myself out of bed, I’ll plug in the headphones and listen to a pre-recorded body scan or meditation) and again after I get the kids to sleep at night. Additionally, I try to tune in and focus on my breath for 5-10 minutes throughout the workday between clients. This helps to recalibrate my system and prepare me to be present with each client. It’s amazing the change I see in myself and my relationships when I stick to this practice. I took a short vacation recently, and the disruption in routine threw me off a little. I’m ready to get back on track!
All right – now it’s your turn! What are some methods of care you are excited to try or revisit? I look forward to your comments below. As always, I’m here when you’re ready to explore transformation in your life.