When I embarked on this #28DaysOfSelfCareChallenge at the beginning of February, I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate my birthday month on social media, and I hoped I would have some people following along.
Well, it quickly became about something much more personal than that. And, I have spent the month reflecting on my entire self-care journey that goes back much longer than just these past 28 days… In fact, it goes back just about 7 years… My father-in-law suddenly passed away on my 28th birthday on on February 28, 2012, and I feel like that day is the day that my whole world started spinning around me faster than I could keep up. Trust me, I tried. Oh my goodness, I tried, but it just seemed like things kept piling on.
I’ll spare you all the gory details, but to sum it up, me and my life completely fell apart. My relationship imploded, I had 2 friendships come to an abrupt end, and then I promptly hit multiple major roadblocks in my professional life. I felt like I was losing everything, but I still tried to hobble along this journey of life…
I had lost my centering force. I had never considered what it would be like if I didn’t have my marriage, my career, and my idealized life. The idea of starting over completely terrified me, and the reality of life became almost too hard to handle. I would do the bare minimum to get through my days, but I wasn’t really tending to my own mindset and my emotional self the way I should have been.
I started to “numb-out” and check out from my life both personally and professionally. I had previously thought that I couldn’t be shaken, but then suddenly, I began to feel so shaky that it was hard to breathe sometimes. I was holding on to the idea of what my “perfect life” was going to look like, and I could not deal with the realities that were smacking me in the face. Major changes had to occur…
Depression was taking over, and there was no self-care happening in my days… I don’t remember really understanding what self-care was or what it actually meant or even how to start. However, as I was feeling like things were at their worst, I decided to start giving this self-care thing a try. I started slow…VERY slow. At first, just making myself wash my face and brush my teeth every day was what I considered a success. It used to make me so sad to think about how much of struggle these basic tasks were to complete and that it was hard to do such basic things to take care of myself. Now, I see it as me relearning (possibly learning for the first time) that I was worth taking care of…
Yes, I was struggling, but I was mostly doing it silently. I didn’t really broadcast what I was going through, and I think that made it harder at times. I was definitely one of those people who looked like I had it all together, but I was far from together. I know that people who interacted with me during some of these struggles would had to have seen that I wasn’t at my best, but I am afraid to imagine how much worse that spiral could have looked… I now know that isolating myself and keeping everything inside was not the answer. I have no doubt that I over-complicated things by trying to do it all by myself and struggling alone. I never want anyone to feel alone.
These past 7 years have been full of ups and downs, and although I may have lost some friendships at my lowest points, I have also been lucky enough to meet some of the best friends I could have imagined. Had it not been for 2 of them stepping in to help me take care of me when I had completely stopped taking care of myself, I’m not sure what my life would look like now. I guess sometimes we do need someone who really loves us and cares about us to tell us to get our shit together! At least, I know that’s what I needed.
I try not to dwell on the darker times, but in those dark times, I definitely discovered my truest self, and I’m so grateful for my life today. I’m living proof it’s possible to put your life back together, and I know I’m so much stronger for having hit my own rock bottom and then learning how to take care of me. This, in turn, allows me to better care for others to help the cycle of healing continue.
The more I began to consistently take care of me again, the better I felt. However, sometimes, I need to be pushed through my stubbornness, so I decided to hire my own life coach. And let me tell you, this took things to the next level. Each week, I was being taught more ways to take care of my own mindset, and I was able to apply the things I was learning to my life. I was feeling more and more free and less at odds with myself, and I could see a dramatic improvement in my overall relationship with myself. I absolutely believe that our relationship with ourselves will set the tone for every other relationship in our lives, and I started to notice how my consistent self-care was helping me improve things in all my relationships.
I was getting better and so were all my relationships! That’s a win-win in my book for sure!
I feel like self-care is the underlying secret to living a healthy, happy, well-adjusted life. It is necessary for us to be healthily selfish in order to fill ourselves back up from all the ways this world can deplete our emotional reserves. We can then give more to those in our lives, because we are not empty and emotionally bankrupt. Self-care is the best way I know to start replenishing our emotional bank account.
That is really why I created this #28DaysOfSelfCareChallenge in the first place. I want to share this secret magic that is self-care with the world. Minding our mindset is so incredibly important, yet it’s often the thing given the least amount of attention. What would it be like to spend just 5 minutes a day taking intentional care of yourself? You are worth it!