let's talk about self-care
Let’s talk about self-care.
2017 has been quite a year for me so far. Here’s a speed recap ::
- Ben moved to DC for training. The girls and I stayed in Atlanta.
- I continued on in my full-time job (actually I even took on an additional project for a couple of months).
- I made sure my two kids were fed, entertained, taken to school, put to sleep, and occasionally bathed.
- Ben informed me that we were going to be moving to Anchorage, Alaska. That was the only night that I justified a late-night grocery run — for wine and ice cream.
- I sold our first home - the home that we brought our sweet babies home from the hospital to, the only home they had ever known.
- I flew to Alaska to house-hunt and looked at 45 homes in three days.
- I bought a new house.
- I packed and shipped all of our belongings plus one car to Alaska.
- We said goodbye to our community (that was more like family).
- Ben graduated and started a new career.
- We moved into our new home.
- We found out we were pregnant the night we moved in.
- Two weeks later I had a miscarriage.
And here we are, over halfway through the year, our lives completely turned upside down, four thousand miles away from all things familiar, and I think - I think - I am just now processing everything.
I say that because I’ve started having severe anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and mood swings. I realized I haven’t had even a combined total of 30 minutes alone since we moved here, and I never gave myself time to grieve any of it. My body is forcing me to focus on everything now. And I know if I don’t show myself self-love or self-care then it will just get worse.
So let’s talk about self-care.
And I don’t just mean the ice-cream eating, Netflix binging type (although, trust me, that’s a part of my self-care regimen… thanks to my husband and my mother-in-law I am never far from dark chocolate).
I have a long ways to go, but here are the things I have started doing to focus on loving myself more and some tips* for you to do yourself ::
*this is not meant to be an exhaustive list by ANY MEANS on how to deal with anxiety. I’ve seen counselors and doctors about my anxiety and I would recommend that to anyone who is suffering from depression or dealing with anxious thoughts.
I read a book. I know - you probably read books every day - but for me reading a whole book, cover to cover, is rare. I have a stack of about 11 books by my bed and each of them is half-read. But this time I read a whole book. The act of reading the book is relaxing, but I also intentionally chose relaxing places (away from my loud kids) like my hammock, under my big wool blanket, etc..
I walked. I have been saying for three years now that I want to consistently walk 3-4 times a week, and I am finally doing it. (Until the snow comes, that is). Exercise is so important especially for anxiety. My original goal was three miles per day, but since that’s completely unrealistic for a mom of littles, I decided to give myself some grace and see what I could do before setting a goal. I found a route near our house that’s 2.3 miles and it works out great when Rayne scooters it and I strap Bradlee in the stroller. Set realistic goals, give yourself grace, and do whatever you can do - even if it’s just walking to the mailbox and back every day. Other forms of exercise, like yoga or swimming or bike riding, are just as good as walking.
I painted. A tiny little picture, that I keep by the front door to remind me to take a deep breath every time I walk by it. There’s something so calming and therapeutic about mixing paints. Don’t tell me you “aren’t an artist” - everyone is an artist and everyone can create. Don’t do it for the end product, do it for the process. If paints aren’t your thing, choose any kind of art!
I cried. A lot.
I started a new project. I finally buckled down and worked on an exciting project that I have said for a few years I wanted to do. And I have a team working on it with me and they are the best and it brings me so much joy. Stay tuned for more about that. Starting something new was therapeutic for me because it felt fresh. Do something you’ve never done before. Maybe it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, maybe it’s something you never thought about until right now. Do something new.
I breathed. I know, we all breathe. But I began to intentionally focus on the process of breathing. This is a MUST-DO if you are fighting anxiety. Find a quiet time/place. Relax your whole body starting with your toes all the way to the top of your head (my Mom taught me this when I was a little girl, and I’ve taught it to my girls now, too!). Take a deep breath in through your nose. Exhale out of your mouth. Say the word “one” on your exhale. Only focus on breathing - if your mind starts to wander, bring it back to that word “one” on every exhale. Spend about 10-20 minutes per day doing this. *Tip, don’t do this within two hours of eating a meal as it has been found to interfere with the digestive process.
I photographed. In the past few years, photography became a business for me and less of a fun hobby. Lately, I’ve been more intentional about photographing things just for fun - flowers, sunsets, our family adventures. Dig up your go-to hobby and let it be fun again.
I oiled. We love essential oils for almost everything in our family - and anxiety is right at the top of the list. There are so many ways you can incorporate them into your life. One simple tip is to put a drop of lavender oil on your left nostril. Apparently it’s really helpful in dealing with anxiety to specifically do it on your left nostril (this way it stimulates your left brain - which is the analytic, thinking side, and if you are suffering from anxiety then it’s probably over-thinking everything and needs that lavender to calm it down!)
I ate. I am re-focusing on healthy eating for our family - we’ve always been a healthy family but I am diving in deeper again after a little hiatus (while I was single-mommying). A balanced, whole-food diet is the most important thing we can do for our bodies and balancing our hormones and emotions. At the same time, I need a little reward to make it through each day - so I like to find fun treats and eat the healthy versions! On the menu today :: paleo donuts (recipe below!).
Paleo Donuts (recipe taken from realhealthyrecipes.com) ::
- 1¼ cup blanched almond flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 eggs, at room temperature, whites and yolks separated
- ½ cup very dark chocolate
- ¼ cup unsweetened chocolate
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 6-mold donut pan with coconut oil.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl combine all of the wet ingredients except egg whites.
- Mix the wet with dry and set aside.
- Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
- Equally distribute the batter between the 6 donut molds. Smooth out the tops of each donut. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden.
- Allow the donuts to cool, remove from pan and then chill in the fridge for half an hour.
- For the Glaze: Fill a medium skillet with a few inches of water and place over medium-low heat. Place the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and put the saucepan inside the skillet. Gently mix the ingredients until fully melted.
- Pour the melted chocolate into a shallow bowl. Dip each chilled donut in the chocolate, then immediately chill for 30 minutes until the glaze hardens.
*We had over-excited kiddos (and mom) so we skipped the one hour of chilling and glaze hardening - they still tasted great!!