The other night a coworker posted a picture on my facebook wall and it totally made my night. It made me feel known, and to me feeling known equates to feeling loved.
But there is a reason I’m such an advocate for self-care.
In college I had a migraine for 6 months. After 2 months of pain I was diagnosed with chronic tension migraines by a neurologist. After 4 months of physical therapy and 3 months on a medication I woke up for the first time without a headache. A lot of those 4 months where I was acutely healing involved a lot of self care, and a lot of sleep… more sleep than I knew was humanly possible.
Since that glorious April day in 2013 it has been a continual process of learning to manage my stress well, say not to things, work on being less of a people pleaser and really learning to take care of me so I can do what I’m passionate about and take care of others.
Here are a few of things I’ve learned over the last 5 years:
- Drink water, more water than you thought you needed.
I try to drink 3 liters of water a day, especially on the days that I run or go to hot yoga. I sweat a lot when I do either of those so I need to replenish the fluids I lost. If you’re curious how much water you should be drinking, try this calculator. https://www.hydroxycut.com/tools/daily-water-calculator/
- Eat food to nourish your body.
So often we eat to soothe our emotions. I know I’m guilty of eating a pint of ice cream not because I’m hungry, but because I feel like crying but can’t cry so I’m going to eat instead. Or I’ll run to the cafeteria and get fries at work because I’m stressed and I want french fries. This is definitely one I’m still learning a lot about and working on. One thing I can tell is that in 2017 I ate better than I did through college. I cooked my food more than I ate out or ordered out and I had less headaches in the year of 2017 as a whole since they all started in fall 2012. And the more I learn about food, the more I believe it’s no coincidence that in a year where I was starting to eat better I generally felt better.
Move your body.
Exercise is such a huge stress reliever for me. When I started running on a regular basis I was able to go off of my antidepressant. Actually I had to go off of my medication to be able to function. I had a patient tell me the other week that they were able to get off of all their narcotic pain medications for their chronic back pain when they started going to the gym. I like running and yoga. Some people like spinning, weights, barre, walking. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing is going to be what sticks. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not going to go do it.
- Don’t be afraid to say no.
You can’t be all things to all people, you just can’t, no matter how hard you try. When I got sick with my headaches I was definitely in a place where I was trying desperately hard to be all things to all people. I wanted to please everyone. I wanted to do everything. And it was all at the expense of my own well-being. My recommendation, save one night a week to invest in yourself. My last semester of college Friday night was my “me” night. I would take a bubble bath and drink a glass of wine and watch a movie/show. But it was my night in, all to myself. Now the specific day varies. But I always make a point to have a night where I cook myself a good dinner, enjoy either a cup of hot tea or a glass of wine, take a bath with some epsom salts and lavender oil and read my book. There have also been times when I scheduled to hang out with someone and got really overwhelmed by unforeseen circumstances and knew I would not be able to give this person the time of day and asked to reschedule. Don’t be afraid to express your need.
- Essential oils.
I’ve been consistently incorporating oils into my daily life for approximately a month. I am already such a fan. I’d always loved bath and body works aromatherapy line, but actually using pure oils and making my own products is so fun, and there’s so much more variety this way. I love being able to list the ingredients in some of my daily products. If I start to get a tension headache I’m grabbing my deep blue and some coconut oil and rubbing it all over my neck and shoulders. Unwinding after a long day I’ll be rubbing lavender on the bottoms of feet and diffusing it. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious or over-stimulated I’m grabbing my bottle of balance. If I’m needing a little help waking up I’m mixing some citrus oils and peppermint to diffuse while I get ready formy day. I’ve really loved the effects of oils in my life. And they allow me to embrace some of my creative side while also caring for the needs of my body.
Love thyself, heal thyself. These are just a few of the tidbits I’ve learned or am in the process of learning about. The more I’m a nurse the more I realize I need for actually caring for our bodies, minds, and souls.