By Casha Doemland
January 18, 2019
For a majority of 2018, and a decent amount of time prior, I struggled to take care of myself mentally and emotionally. Yes, I meditated and gave off the illusion that I had inner peace.. But more times than not, the hectic lifestyle of being a freelancer living in Los Angeles didn’t provide me with much time to slow down. The fact that I may or may not be a workaholic with one too many passion projects doesn’t help much either.
So when my anxiety finally peaked and introduced itself in the form of gastrointestinal issues, I hit the breaks and vowed to start taking care of myself, mind, body and soul. I had to start practicing self-care. While the acts of self-care can vary based on the individual, the most common interpretation of the term is prioritization of one’s mental, physical and/or emotional health.
Read on to learn the ways I practice self-care on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis:
On a daily basis, I go for a 2 to 3-mile walk where I listen to either Oprah's SuperSoul Sunday or The Dirtbag Diaries podcast. If the weather’s a bit rainy, or if time is of the essence, I may shorten the walk or cut it altogether. Either way, I do yoga every morning, varying between 10 - 45-minute practices. This is normally done at home via my own flows or yoga videos I find.
At the end of my practice, I do a 5-minute gratitude exercise where I say all the things I am grateful for. For me, yoga and walking serve as ‘meditations-in-motion’ and allow me the opportunity to start my morning off with a clear mind.
Skincare is self-care. I've started investing in good skincare products to complete my regime like sheet masks, bubbling clay masks and peel masks that I do 3-4 times a week followed by a witch hazel toner and all-natural moisturizer.
Depending on the day, I either do the face mask post-workout as I sit down to write or while reading a book/watching a movie at the end of the day. I pamper myself for about 20-30 minutes to show myself a little bit of love.
Yes, you read that correctly. Budgeting is vital to my mental health. I have several savings accounts, one for my car, one for six to seven months of living expenses, one for a rainy day and one for my taxes. I also have a few apps on my phone (one of which is Quickbooks) to help me visualize my expenses and personal spending in comparison to my income.
While this may seem a little neurotic, it gives me the freedom to treat myself to things I love, like travel or tattoos, when I want to because I know I've already taken care of everything else.
I've always found peace in Mother Earth and all of her beauty. When my schedule permits, I do my best to hike around Los Angeles or spend a day in Malibu gazing out at the Pacific.
When I have a weekend off, I try to take a day trip to Joshua Tree, cruise up the coast or explore a new area. My dream places for 2019 are Yosemite, Sequoia National Park and the Redwoods. No matter the time, it's always wonderful to unplug a little and take deep breaths of fresh air.
Sometimes the best way to decompress and give my mind, body and soul the time to reset is to spend a couple hours alone. I spend this time writing, reading books, going on solo hikes or taking myself on a date. This time gives me the opportunity to self reflect and rest.
In the beginning, it was difficult. But, after many uncomfortable evenings filled with anxiety and tears, I adjusted. It's also thanks to the help of my therapist, which is my next form of self-care.
I began seeing my therapist shortly after a stress-induced gastrointestinal flare-up because I realized I needed to work some things out with a professional that I could not do by myself or with a loved one. So I am so grateful for my weekly sessions.
I realized that seeing a therapist once a week did not mean there was something wrong with me or that I was broken. Instead, it meant that for an hour a week, I could help raise my self-awareness and grow into the person I wanted to be with a little help.
In the short 6 to 7 months that I've been going, I've actually uncovered a lot about myself. It's been an incredible period of growth, as awkward and uncomfortable as it sometimes felt.
The biggest lesson I learned in 2018 was the importance of listening to my body and my mind. If I am tired or feeling overworked, I set aside time to rest, even if it's just for an hour. If I am feeling anxious, I slow down, breathe deeply and create the time to reflect or phone a friend. If my body is aching, I stretch and take a hot shower. If my gut is saying no, I verbally and physically follow suit.
Whatever is going on, instead of pushing past it and allowing myself to feel overextended to the point of consistent anxiety (this has caused me to drop a significant amount of weight in a short period of time), I take a step back to discover what I need to do to reground myself.
Guess what? Your self-worth is not directly related to how hard you work. Additionally, how can you expect to handle your shit, both personally and professionally, if you can barely keep your head above water?
So, do yourself a solid and listen to your body and mind my friends! Don't ignore it until problems make themselves known. Take care of yourself, because it's vital to your well-being.