Self Care: Myth & Reality
Written by: Erica Heller, LMSW, LCDC-I
Are you familiar with the term “self-care?” Honestly, I know a lot of people that cringe at this phrase. The first thing that comes to mind might be a night out on 6th Street with friends, happy hour, a massage, or a mani/pedi. Not to say these fun times are not self-care, however, I will say that the list definitely does not end there. As a person in recovery, and a therapist and social worker, I experienced a crash course in discovering solid coping skills that make me feel like a whole person – body, mind, and spirit – without the need for alcohol and other substances. Maybe you can relate.
Back to the basics, it is a good idea to listen to your body first and foremost. Sleep, food, water (especially in the Texas heat) are important. Take a digital break if you think it may be helpful, your friends and family will understand. Connecting with nature is one of my favorite things to do, whether it be an early morning hike, swimming, visiting the peacocks at Mayfield Park, or a sunset walk around the neighborhood. Not only is it beneficial to shake things up by changing your environment, your brain and body will thank you too!
Spending time with loved ones and tending to healthy relationships hones in on one of our most basic human desires to seek connection and be understood. How about a fun movie, concert, or night of board games? As easy as it may be to feel the need to include substances and alcohol in any solo or group activity, I guarantee there is an alternative option available if you need it. As much as we may appreciate affirmations and complements from others, it’s also okay to be your own cheerleader. Over time I have tried to practice more self- compassion toward myself as well as aim to include self-affirmations in my daily routine. I am by no means perfect – but I have found that these small pieces ultimately create a lasting impact on my mental health in the long run. Some days this might mean I enjoy a morning hike, afternoon nap, and have a few friends over for pizza and a game night. Other days I simply try to limit my social media scrolling and tune into any underlying anxiety I may be trying to avoid. Ultimately, I know that I am doing my best to help myself be a whole person so I can continue to help others in my various roles, at home and at work. I welcome you to try something new to help yourself out today and practice a bit of self-care. You’ve got this!