Happy Leap Day! You may have noticed over the past two months, that my blog posts each week fall into one of four categories: introductions to the monthly theme, music, product suggestions, and stories about clients from my clinical practice. This works out well, as there are generally 4 Mondays in each month. However there are a few months this year, February included, that have 5 Mondays, so I have decided to do something special in these cases. Today, and on the 5th Mondays of May, August, and October, I will be posting interviews highlighting the self care routines of individuals in my life. The idea is to take the concept of self care out of an abstract context and look at what it means to people in real life.
This first interview is with my friend Natalie, with whom I attended graduate school in New York. For as long as I have known her, I have admired Natalie's dedication to self care. Through caring for herself by creative means (poetry, weaving) and in physical ways (dancing, biking), Natalie has developed a diverse list of activities, objects, and exercises that she can rely on to feel well. My interview with her below highlights some of the "go-to" items on her list, as well as her thoughts on the process of tweaking and developing new self care routines in response to our changing lives.
As a social worker, you take care of other people for a living. What challenges, if any, does this pose to your own self care? Have you learned anything about self care from clients?
In taking care of people I'm constantly reminded that 'it's easier said than done.' I often find myself brainstorming with clients and coming up with great suggestions that they should try for anxiety, yet I often don't take my own advice. I find when I notice myself doing this, I try implementing both my suggestions into my daily life as well as ideas the clients come up with. I've learned a lot about limiting self-judgments when choosing what works best for me at any given time, from working to honor client's self-determination.
I'm curious about what kinds of things help you remember to use self care. How do you successfully stay in the mindset that allows you to cherish yourself and regard your needs as important?
It's a work in progress to remember to check in with myself and realize when I'm steering in the direction of "me time." Some things that are red flags for me are short temper with roommates (or others I spend lots of time with), physical aches or unusual fatigue, and isolating myself (as I'm usually pretty social). Reminding my clients about their worth in the world and often reminding them that they need to take time for themselves helps me remember to do the same.
Describe your daily self care routine
I'll preface this with the fact that my self-care routine has experienced a strange change while being in between jobs. Having so much down time allows the mind to wander more, and leads to the pressure of filling up 40 hours of free time I didn't have before. Because of this change my self-care routine consists more of trying to regulate feelings of guilt. I do this daily by making an itinerary for myself, I try to balance fun with chores/job searching. The one component I must always have in my day to remain intact is some sort of movement be it riding my bike, stretching, or the gym.
I know that you're very involved in your community! Where are some of your favorite places to engage in self care around Philly?
Loving where you live is such a privilege. I'm a nerd when it comes to being obsessed with my city. In the warmer seasons I love biking/walking along the Schuylkill River (Pronounced Sku-Kill), or reading in Rittenhouse Square park. In the colder months I enjoy playing board games at coffee houses or beer halls with friends, or exploring some of the amazing museums Philly has to offer (ex. Mütter Museum- spooky!)
Imagine you're having a bad day. What do you do to turn your mood around and help yourself feel better?
I would be remiss to say a good glass of wine at happy hour with friends doesn't help turn my frown upside down. But the main thing that helps me is acknowledging what mood I'm in and what mood I want to be in. Sometimes I want to pout and stomp my feet, and I try to be ok with my decision. If I feel like changing my bad day I usually play some empowering lady music (eh hem Beyonce), maybe vent to a good friend, and try to cook or clean, feeling productive and creating a nice nesting space changes my mood for the better.
Do you have certain objects or environments around your house that you rely on for self care?
My room is a safe-space for me, it's the one place I have complete control of. It's where I craft, and stretch, and snuggle. Lighting affects my mood a lot I am lucky to have nice natural light, and have added soft dim lights for nighttime, it's a nice change after a full day of looking at screens.