These days are stressful and interesting times. As a massage therapist, I “feel” this daily when I work on the clients on my table. Some of these clients name the stress out loud — stress on the job, other life stress, pandemic stress, or unidentified stress that they prefer not to get specific about.

It would be very very easy for me to internalize what I am sensing, and make my own stress load worse. We all have stress — especially now.

I have to repeatedly, consciously remind myself to take care of myself. If I’m not taking care of myself, how can I be my best and do my best work? The most simple clichés seem to be the truest clichés. This practice is like meditation. Over and over again, throughout my life, my days, my minutes, I remind myself to breathe correctly. And when I am mindful enough, I remind myself to do those self-care things that shore me up.

(If “healer” sounds too pretentious, just call it care-giver, whether you are a caring friend, or a person caring for a loved one, or a professional like a nurse, CNA, LNA, coach, therapist, teacher, whatever…that care for others. There are many care-givers out there. We are all givers in some capacity, usually. And we can all benefit from self care.)

Self care is very individual. What works for me will probably fall totally flat for someone else. My list might inspire some ideas, though:

During work week:

  • Getting outside in the fresh air (even in the winter, I hope, if not TOO cold). Grounding. I need to be outside and I need boundaries between myself and work, at least for a few minutes at a time, to settle down after what can be intense work.
  • Eating good food that doesn’t upset my equilibrium. Limiting coffee and sugar during the work week.
  • Allowing myself all the down time I need, when I can take it, even if it means sitting in the car and staring into space. Not beating myself up for not crashing through an insane and unrealistic to-do list.
  • Moving. Walking, yoga, and more. Very very important for me. The day is not the same if I don’t move, even though my job is fairly physical (in a very slow, intense, isometric way).

 

During weekend:

  • Grounding at home. Getting outside in the woods. Purposefully moving through the day with a very loose, or nonexistent, agenda. I am tired of rushing around for no good reason. I am looking for health and wellness and well being wherever I can find it.
  • Keeping in touch with friends and family, mostly via text, email and phone these days.
  • Consciously spending good time with my human and fur family. Stopping to pet my cats, play with my cats, and tell them I love them. Spending quiet, unrushed time with my SO.

 

The real trick is remembering to do these, AND being OK with when I can only do a little of one thing. Being OK with a 10-minute walk outside around a mall (instead of a lovely 1 hour walk outside in the deep woods) is tough for me. I am stubborn. I am learning, though, that at least taking the more possible option at the moment, the 10-minute walk, is better than nothing. I have learned, amazingly, that even a few simple yoga stretches at work can help the day go better. I focus on that rather than beating myself up that I didn’t get a full yoga practice in at home on a day.

It’s a constant practice!