When I agreed to write this, I thought, “oh what a simple thing to do! I am all about self-care!”
And then as I sat down to actually complete this blog post that thought quickly changed to… “actually maybe now isn’t the best time for me to be giving advice on that…”
See, if you had asked me to write this a few months ago, I would have been able to tell you about my several different forms of self-care. How I go for long runs regularly and take time to meditate and stretch almost every day. How I make fresh green juice and meal prep every Sunday, go for walks to get coffee with my friend at least once a week for the necessary “girl talks”, and journal every night before I go to bed. And as Pinterest-boardy as all of that sounds, I would have meant every word.
But that’s not how life is right now. And lately, I literally haven’t been doing any of that.
These days, I am so busy that I barely have the energy to wash my face when I get home. Most nights, I have to convince myself to get up and walk the 22 steps to my bedroom (yes, I have actually counted) so that I don’t give myself another day of back pain because I passed out on the couch again from sheer exhaustion. I can’t remember the last time I made myself a healthy meal and I have been living off of take out and frozen food from Trader Joe’s. I am lucky if I can squeeze in a few workouts a week; and when I do make it to the gym, I usually am studying slides or a pdf while walking on the treadmill. I have become super inconsistent about maintaining any type of habit or routine, and I regularly forget to return the calls of even my closest friends and family.
What happened, you ask?
A little background — I am currently in the midst of an accelerated graduate level nursing program at the University of Cincinnati (UC). I am working towards my Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and beginning the process of applying for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. The program I am in now is fast paced, carries a strenuous course load, and requires hours upon hours of lab and/or clinicals every week. It barely allows me the time to do anything other than going to the hospital or the library. Essentially, this has consumed my entire life.
I began this whole journey at the (not so ripe) age of 27 and will be turning 31 this upcoming summer; and let me tell you, do I feel it! Prior to this I was a licensed esthetician and skincare specialist, a professional self-care aficionado. At least in the way we see it portrayed on TikTok and self-care blogs across the internet.
So, while anyone in my life will tell you that this is the most intense and stressful thing, I could have ever chosen to pursue… and sometimes I catch my loved ones looking at me as though I am bound to explode at any given moment… I can promise that this is the calmest I have felt in a very long time. I just have this overwhelming sense of peace that I have never really had before, and I keep trying to figure it out…
How can THIS be the best I have ever felt? When it is basically the worst that I have ever taken care of myself?!
I think the answer to that question has a lot to do with how we choose to define self-care. I think that sometimes a long walk or a bubble bath can be the stress relief needed after a hard day, and I will always preach that making time for yourself in small ways is incredibly important. But I also think we need to remember that self-care means other things, too. It means doing the work to get yourself to the place where you know you were always meant to be, even if that work is challenging.
The things most worth it, in my experience, tend to be the scariest or the most difficult. And while I am still on the journey, and not 100% certain of what is on the other side of all this; I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing. They always tell you that you can start over whenever you want, but actually doing that is way more complicated than anyone could ever explain or imagine.
Believing in yourself enough to follow your intuition and change your life is overwhelming, but also incredibly empowering. I believe we all hold the potential for greatness and it’s innately within each of us… and I believe you’ll know it when you find it. Until then, don’t settle.
Always listen to your gut, follow your heart, and don’t ever give up. That’s the kind of self-care they don’t really tell you about. And take it from me… it beats a bubble bath any day of the week.