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Caretaker- Care for Thyself: Ummmmm... What?

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Self-care is a buzzword. Right? Everyone is talking about it and saying how they need to do it. But what does that look like? Feel like? How do I know if I am doing self-care? I know how to care for others; we all do. But do we know how to care for ourselves in a manner that makes a difference in our daily lives?


I sit with clients, students, and other providers daily and think to ask them if they’re tending to themselves when I really should be asking myself:


Are you….

  • Eating well?

  • Taking a break when you need it?

  • Going for a walk?

  • Enjoying hobbies, pets, or family?

  • Enjoying your work?

Learning how to take care of oneself can be confusing at first. Especially as life gets busy, you can suddenly realize you’re tired or burned out. CRISPY. Frayed around the edges.


I argue with the belief that I am superhuman in my actions every day. I take on too many clients; I offer to help when I need time for myself or my family, I try to juggle school, work, and other businesses, as well as deal with the day-to-day speed bumps I encounter along the way. Those who know me well could develop a more descriptive and exhaustive list than I can. Then, I get tired, cranky, hungry, or feel like screaming.


For me, this is what that looks like when I am on the road to being “crispy”:

  • I may not be eating on a regular schedule

  • Instead of sleeping, I am watching the hamster wheel of ideas and worries in my brain all night

  • I get home from work and sit on the couch only to stare at the tube

  • I find that I’m not making sure I have food at the office or making a lunch

  • The car gets cluttered with things I’ve neglected to either take into the office or home

  • Laundry is everywhere- need I say more?

Sound familiar? Even those of us that “know better” mess up self-care.


So, how do you figure out what self-care looks like for yourself? I’ve learned a few things about this. I have had to come up with some guidelines for myself, as well as explore to find what fits within them.


Whatever it is I choose to do must:

  • Feed my soul- it must be something I’m passionate about that leaves me feeling good about having done it and who I am

  • Not add to my workload, my schedule, or my “should do” list- EVER

  • Not cause me to dread following through because I’m too tired. If so, I need to figure out a smaller self-care win.

Early on, trying to figure out what these things may be, I added many things to my schedule and my “should do” list and searched for things that could feed my soul and keep it full for a while. That looked like going to concerts, baseball games, getting my nails done on a regular basis, or massages.


All good self-care! But I figured out that I needed more frequent and smaller doses of caring for myself. I found that getting my nails done was not self-care for me. Having to stick to a regular schedule was adding to and complicating my life. I had to break it down for myself. I had to find small things that reminded me that I am human. Smaller things that feed my soul and cause me to slow down and get out of my head.


A few of these things:

  • Playing catch or wrestling with my dogs

  • Talking to my husband

  • Having my office full of colleagues laughing and poking fun at each other

  • Drinking enough water each day

  • Stretching or meditation

  • Reading a good book

  • Getting in my garden and digging in the dirt

  • Taking the time to stop and buy a bouquet of flowers to bring to the office

If I am not enjoying these things, I'm probably pretty "Crispy".

With these, I hope those larger self-care activities are even more enjoyable because I will be filling my soul bit by bit in between and not be so tired when I get to go to a concert, a baseball game, or on vacation.


What is it that feeds your soul, helps remind you that you’re human, and, in turn, helps you be the most amazing caretaker you can be in a healthy way? Things that do not add to or complicate your schedule but make you feel good you did it and feel good about yourself?


~Niki


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