For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in a continuous cycle of taking on too much, without slowing down. Most of us have something that is a vice, and often times it transfers from one habit to another. I’ve found that above indulging in food, alcohol, or shopping, work is truly my drug of choice. In some ways, it helps to be a little too intense about work when you’re a small business owner, but throw “mother” on top of it and the words “day off” are completely removed from your vocabulary. And right now, “vacations” are truly just another day at the office, only in a different setting. Bad, I know. But, I’m working on it.
Dedicating self-care and energy to myself became a top priority for me after I started therapy back in 2012. As I felt better and worked through learning how to better take care of myself, my life started to get more complicated. Right now, it feels like I’m in the process of relearning all the lessons in boundary making and “down time” all over again. I realized the majority of my time is spent on others, with my staff, the business, and now, most importantly, August. I’ve been putting my needs on the back burner for a while. When your child needs you while there’s a mountain of e-mails to tackle, it’s not surprising how quickly you push your needs aside. It’s not ideal, and it certainly hasn’t done me any favors personally or professionally.
As someone who lives and dies by calendar appointments (or at least, the hour before, with reminders of appointments to know where I’m supposed to be at any given time), I needed to implement a designated self-care routine into my schedule. And I needed to start slow and simple. Too often, plans to overhaul my daily rituals result in too big of hurdles, and I end up failing after day 2 and go back to the bad habit of burning the candle at both ends. (I’m currently typing this from the Amsterdam Airport and it’s 2:16 am back in MSP.)
Anyway– my plan was simple – live more intentionally. Ok, great. Now what? How could I hold myself accountable to commit to self-care?
The journey of self-care isn’t a road that should be traveled alone. And, it’s not necessarily a destination. It’s more about continuing to check-in with yourself. To become more diligent and commit to this introspective growth, I needed to hold myself accountable, and have others hold me accountable. Noteworthy, an online space created to help support people on their individual paths towards natural wellness, has a 21-day journey that challenges you to live a vibrant, healthy life. It connects you with other participants, providing a network of support and motivation throughout the shared journey experience.
“The journey of self-care isn’t a road that should be traveled alone.”
Would I be able to commit to 21-days of self-care? Or would I give up on day 4, like the Whole30?
It’s safe to say I didn’t get through 21-days without a late night or crazy work trip thrown into the mix, but I did try my best, which is a great motto for any recovering perfectionist. Some days were harder than others, so I’ve recapped my three favorite tasks and what I learned from the experience.
Care, is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Care for others. Care for yourself. Sometimes the concepts we hear the most are the ones we take for granted. This initial task was memorable for me because it helped me realize how important my bath ritual is for my mental health. It marks the end of my (often long) day and allows time and space for my head to process. It’s quiet, peaceful, and a place that’s truly my own little safe haven. I’ve come to appreciate this little moment of care so much, that I’ve recently stepped up my baths to the next level with essential oils and other natural ingredients.
I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF in my life. As I’m not exactly sentimental, I took the opportunity to apply this challenge to my decluttering process. Surprisingly, I found it easier to donate clothing items by asking myself, “Do I really need this?” versus the “someday” mentality I’ve been utilizing.
Cleaning out my closet, also cleaned out my frame of mind. By reducing the items in my house, it helped me to let go of the past and clear my mind of unrealistic expectations and more importantly the outstanding to-dos that never get done. To keep myself motivated, and to make my new streamlined wardrobe feel special, I purchased matching black velvet hangers. To further elevate my new boutique closet, I also added drops of peppermint essential oil to the hangers themselves, to help keep everything smelling fresh and more importantly, to energize me in the mornings.
I’m constantly torn between getting to work early to get ahead of the day or waking up slowly and taking my time in the morning. For this acceptance self-care, I challenged myself not to feel guilty about making time for breakfast and some morning R&R. If I’m going to be at the office all day, why not start it off slowly, and spend time with the people (and dog) that mean the most to me. What made the morning even more relaxing, was using a small diffuser that plugged directly into my laptop. I added Aura Cacia’s eucalyptus essential oil. This exhilarating scent was the perfect way to jump start the morning while checking e-mail over toast and jam.
Each of the 21 days was unique; with tasks that stirred up feelings of fear, connection, joy, self-worth, giving back, regret, and truth to name a few. I felt challenged and inspired to continue the self-care past the initial 21 days. I concluded this experience with a better realization and a deeper respect for me. Which in turn, I think makes me a better version of myself for everyone around me.
I challenge you to try it. Give yourself the gift of intentional care. The daily tasks, though small, will be the biggest reward.
Ed. note: This post was sponsored by Aura Cacia. The compensation received in exchange for placement on Wit & Delight is used to purchase props, hire a photographer, write/edit the blog post and support the larger team behind Wit & Delight.
While compensation was received in exchange for coverage, all thoughts and opinions are always my own. Sponsored posts like these allow for the development of additional dynamic content to be produced, unsponsored. Thank you for supporting our partners!
BY Kate Arends - May 25, 2017
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.