Working from home is new to me and I’ve had to take a lot of humble pills along the way.
Self care is one of those pills.
Since I’m with myself all day every day, it’s confronting. My flaws are shining through, loud and clear. Might as well take it as an opportunity to learn and grow, right?
I don’t always agree “self care best practices” like face masks and herbal tea to solve your problems (although I am a fan of both and enjoy them regularly). So I wanted to test out actionable ways to ground myself and take care of myself.
Lately, self care for me is getting the basics right.
It’s clear when I’ve been slacking on the basics. I’m irritable, tired, unmotivated, anxious, and I’m not very good to those who rely on me. I play the blame game and it’s just not fun for anyone.
Of course, it’s going to happen now and then, but it shouldn’t be a regular pattern. Yet, I can find myself in a constant cycle of burnout, then reset. Why weren’t my resets actual resetting me? Because I wasn’t getting the basics right.
A better strategy is for me to take responsibility for how I'm doing. In a nutshell, I need to manage myself because no one can or should do it for me.
In other words:
"If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else? Can I get an amen?!" Thanks RuPaul.
PS - I'm really into drag queens at the moment. More on that later.
So, here’s what I’ve been focusing on in the last month or two to get myself back to basics and create reliable habits that I can turn to when I start feeling burned out or anxious or grumpy.
At the moment, I use a 1.5L water bottle and my goal is to drink two of them a day. It doesn’t always happen and I don’t think there’s a magic number when it comes to how much water we should be drinking.
Every day, depending on how physically active you were, how hot it was outside, or how much coffee you’ve had is going to affect the amount of water you’ll need. So yes, my goal is two bottles-worth but I really just aim for clear pee.
Eat three nutritious meals.
For a while there, I sucked at eating. So weird because I love food. And I work from home so it really isn’t that hard to make sure I’m nourishing myself. The kitchen is right there!
Sometimes, I’d put this pressure on myself to make something nutritious and healthy. So, when I didn’t have the “right” ingredients or I didn’t know what to make, I’d just snack throughout the day without having anything proper until dinner comes around.
No wonder I was grumpy with a headache…
The point is to just eat something filling. It doesn’t have to be the healthiest thing in the world or the most well-prepared. It just has to have substance.
It’s still a work in progress but if I can get three good meals a day then I’m already have a much better chance of feeling good.
This has been a newer challenge for me.
Since I was three years old, I was in dance class after school and from there, it was easy to stay active. I was either dancing in college or dancing for my job. I did go to the gym a lot while I was working on ships but for the most part, I didn’t have to try too hard to make sure I was moving my body.
In the last few months since I my job as a fitness instructor with Dance Barre, I've barely broken a sweat. Moving my body is an area I’ve been neglecting hardcore and it's become blatantly obvious that staying still is not an option.
I feel pretty out of shape so I’m conscious about taking it slow. This whole thing is in an effort to avoid burning out, so if I take on too much, it defeats the purpose. I love yoga and have started to be more consistent with doing it every day.
Yoga with Adriene on YouTube has been great for me so far and I’ve used the Yoga Studio app by Gaiam in the past, which I’d also recommend. Even just 20 minutes of yoga each day does a lot for my mindset and my body.
Ok - this one is the hardest one. Yet, the most important.
It takes conscious effort to check in with myself and with those who rely on me. After all, noticing how I’m feeling and recognizing what I need is the only way I can decide how to act on it. And it’s a skill that I put on the back burner in terms of practicing.
I’ll let the little things slide and keep everything to myself before my subconscious explodes and I can’t even explain why. Constantly checking in about the small things within myself helps me identify what I'm feeling and why. Then, it's up to me to decide what I can do to solve the issues before they become overwhelming.
Feeling tired? Take a nap. Have a headache? Drink some water. Feeling grumpy? Take a walk. Feeling overwhelmed? Ask for help.
I watched this TED Talk that helped me with some communication tips. Using the whole idea of “I feel… I want…” has helped both internally and for when I communicate with others. Check it out if you have some time.
Complete a task.
Every day I make a to-do list and every day I try to tick everything off. I try to be flexible with myself because I’m just as much of procrastinator as the best of ‘em. All I know is I feel like a badass when I get everything done that I wanted to get done, so that’s the aim.
At the same time, I’m also guilty of being incredibly hard on myself. I can slip into comparing myself to others who I assume work so much harder than I am or I tell myself I’m lazy or that I don’t know what I’m doing. It really takes me out sometimes and that’s no fun either.
So, while I’m always aiming to complete my entire to-do list and feel like a badass, I also aim to be honest with myself when I need to take a break. We’re only human after all and it's beneficial to get off my high horse and remember that.
Whether it’s doing the dishes or writing an article or practicing yoga, if I just do one productive thing each day, it makes me feel more like a winner.
It really doesn’t get much more basic than that.
Water, food, movement, communication, and purpose.
I certainly haven’t nailed any of these but it’s nice to work on them. Knowing that all of these things help me avoid burnouts and explosions in order to be the best version of myself is pretty empowering, too.
It’s the best kind of self care I’ve found so far but I’ll also probably do a face mask and drink some tea later. Can’t hurt.
What helps you bring back the basics? Please share some of your favorite ways to stay grounded in the comments!