“Self-care” is one of the more cliché phrases floating around these days. I actually try not to use it, because clients tend to either 1) roll their eyes at me , 2) their eyes start to glaze over and they do that “smile and nod” thing that alerts me that I’ve lost all respect, and/or 3) say something like, “I don’t have time or money for a massage.”
I totally get it. Whenever someone asks me if I am practicing self-care my soul cringes and I start to feel a little sassy.
And yet… figuring out some way to stay fresh, connected to our creativity and not have burnout constantly nipping at our heels is vital for a happy work and home life. If you are in a nursing/helping/healing profession, I KNOW you know what I am talking about.
Just for today, let’s call it recharging.
Think about the ways you recharge in terms of nourishing vs. numbing. I mean, I’m all about vegging out with wine and Netflix, don’t get me wrong. However, have you ever noticed whether you actually feel refreshed after that? If I’m honest, I don’t. I end up watching at least an hour (or more) longer than I intended mostly because I can’t peel myself off the couch. And then I go to bed later than I want to and wake up tired the next morning. The vicious cycle continues. TV, indulgent eating, alcohol all feel fun in the moment but ultimately don’t really provide a lot of energy. They sort of numb us out while we are feeling the pleasure, but then once the numbness wears off there is a good chance that we, at best, feel the same as we did before.
When we recharge ourselves in a way that is nourishing, the goal isn’t so much unplugging as it is replenishing the storehouses. I’m gonna be real with you, nourishing yourself does take a little more effort, perhaps planning. But the benefits are feeling connected with your purpose, having energy to do things you want to do, and feeling inspired, just to name a few.
Like I said earlier, I am not completely opposed to numbing out every once in awhile. But if you choose to do that, do it with intention, and possibly couch it between two nourishing activities. As a simple example, before you start to devour that pizza take 2 minutes to take a few deep breaths and let some stress go with long exhales. When you are done eating, take a moment to feel gratitude that you live in a place where you can get pretty much any kind of food you want at any time, and that you have money to pay for it.
Here are a few other examples of ways that are effective for me to recharge in a way that is nourishing: go somewhere else besides my usual home-work-grocery store-home route even if it’s just the next town over (but bonus points if I have to fly to get there or if there is a scenic view!), go to water especially rivers, sit down for 10 minutes and do a meditation with my Calm app, write, go take pictures outside or in an interesting part of town, make a card for someone, get out my dusty guitar and strum a little, create a Pinterest board for my next shindig or how I could freshen up a room in the house, get rid of sh%$ I don’t need that is cluttering up my house.
My list isn’t necessarily your list. What are the things that make you feel like you are an actual human, with dreams and desires beyond just making it through another shift?
So there you go. Say goodbye to using your days off to numb out and brace yourself for your next shift (or the next client, or when the baby wakes up, or whatever), and give yourself some space to recharge in a way that is nourishing for your mind/body/soul.
Jamie White is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Yoga Teacher who helps women in nursing and health care professions to continue to feel inspired and fulfilled in their work while also feeling alive on their days off. Jamie is based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Get in touch with her and find out more information at jamiewhitecounseling.com.