Self Care Routine
If you came here hoping for some tips about skin care.... I'm very sorry but this is not that post. What this post IS, is 4 things that I've incorporated into my self care routine that go further than just skin deep. I hope that you will find at least one thing in this post that you can add into your self care routine, and if you don't have a routine I hope that you will begin forming one now.
Define: The term self-care has become unavoidable in the worlds of social media and professional development. On any given day we will all run into a You Tube video, Instagram Post, Buzz Feed Article, or work place training surrounding the topic of "Self Care."
Usually self- care is portrayed as slapping on a face mask and lighting some pretty candles around your bedroom or treating yourself to an afternoon pick me up at the coffee shop. While these can each be components of a self care routine, I would argue, self care encompasses so much more than just those things.
At it's core, the term self care originates in the realm of health care. The Miriam Webster Dictionary definition is:
Definition of self-care : care for oneself
specifically : health care provided by oneself often without the consultation of a medical professional Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are a common route for self-care, and consumers are eagerly using them … —Alison Stein Wellner
Apply: With this definition in mind, it is important to note that we should be approaching self-care much more holistically.
This point became apparent to me when I attended a round table discussion with a number of black female professionals a few months ago. While my skin was glowing from all of those face masks, the rest of me was not well cared for. A few of the older women in the room challenged me to revamp my self-care routine, and since then I've been feeling as great as I was looking. They also reminded me that we should be participating in some form of self-care every day, not just once we've run ourselves ragged.
My self-care routine now includes the following:
1) Unplugging for at least 1 Hour Each Day: As one who uses computer technology in almost every space of their life- I found it absolutely necessary to schedule time out each day where I would not be on/near a computer or my phone.
Since June, I've tried to start each day with journaling , a scripture devotion, and prayer/ meditation. This usually takes me about 15-30 minutes, depending on what's on my heart. I find that this morning time allows me to manually adjust my attitude for the day. We all go to sleep, and wake up in the morning with different things on our minds. By taking time in the morning just to decompress and address whatever thoughts I may have, I prevent those things from festering and having a negative impact on my day.
My newest morning read that I'll be starting in September is the book Poised For Excellence by Karima Mariama-Arthur. This book provides valuable advice on the topics of effective leadership and presence as professionals and various journal prompts to encourage readers to work on improving in their weak areas. I was blessed to meet Karima at a workshop on Executive Presence for my job- and received a free copy. After reading only the first chapter I can confidently say that this book is a must have if you are a young professional.
On my morning commute, I also do my best to either read a book or news publication, if I am looking for something more relevant to my job. Again, this allows me to manage what I am exposed to before I hit the office, rather than going to my social media platforms and being subject to the often negative, or distracting posts on my timeline. Finally, I try to journal or do some form of constructive reading before I go to bed-especially the night before special events- or high stress work days.
2) Bring Snacks: As one who commutes to work on the very reliable Washington Metro Rail system *rolls eyes,* I have learned that walking around after an 8 hour work day, and a 10 minute walk to the metro- not having access to some type of snack is unacceptable. I'll usually keep a bottle of water and some type of granola bar on me at all times. I've found that this keeps me from spending unnecessary money at snack shops or restaurants on the way home, and saving coin is in fact a form of self care.
Supplying your own snacks also gives you control when and how you fuel your body. I used to really struggle because eating, for me, was a social activity. School got me in the habit of eating only when others around me were eating. But, I've realized how imperative it is to break that mindset. Our bodies each have their own clocks which we respond to. It is far healthier to have a small snack earlier in the day, when your body actually needs it, than to try to compensate by overeating later in the day.
3) Go to Sleep Earlier, Wake Up Earlier: I am so tired of this "hustlers don't sleep" mentality that social media perpetuates. It creates unreasonable expectations surrounding our work ethics and will inevitably lead to burnout. As young people we're often told by our relatives and peers that sleepless nights are a mandatory part of being young.
This article by The Atlantic talks about the health implications of sleep loss. While loss of sleep may be unavoidable in some circumstances, many times we force ourselves to lose sleep to continue toe "hustler" persona. Losing sleep is not an indicator of personal success.
4) Set Boundaries : This was the hardest lesson in self care for me to learn. As we grow older, time becomes more precious, however as we grow older our time also becomes more easily spent. Between working, tying to manage a healthy social life, involvement in the church or other activities, time is a luxury that we cannot afford to irresponsibly give. There was a point of time in college where I was getting sick at least once a month, and each time the doctor would tell me that my symptoms were related to stress, and exhaustion. That pattern carried over when I graduated and started working. I was wearing myself entirely too thin, and my appearance showed it. My skin was dull, my energy was always low, and again I was always sick.
I've been in prayer, a lot, recently that God would grant me discernment to know where I need to be and who I should be spending my time with. With this prayer, I also needed God to help me to enforce these boundaries without having to constantly explain myself. Slowly but surely I've been able to establish and enforce boundaries on what I will and will not do, who I will and will not spend time with, etc. Though this is definitely a skill that I am still working to sharpen, I am very proud of my progress thus far.
I want to encourage each of my readers to exercise self-care on a much deeper level. Set goals and track how much time you are spending on things that feed your growth, and health.