How Self Care Extends Way Beyond Stress Relief

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Are you feeling lost, scattered and overwhelmed?

Do you feel like you don’t belong anywhere and pulled in a million different directions?

Did you know  friend, that becoming diligent in your daily self care is a way back to peace, clarity, focus and most importantly a sense of home from within?

Self Care Opens Up A New World

If you are struggling with being consistent in your self care, or in getting over the initial discomfort of beginning, let me encourage you by saying that, self care does not only result in stress relief, improved mental health or better sleep. Committed self care can be a path to finding home,  hearth and deep reserves of resilience from within ourselves. Dedication to our self care can open up a world of discovery into the most important, fulfilling, rewarding, satisfying and illuminating treasure you’ll ever find, yourself.

Crushed By The Need To Please

To bring home this point,  let me share with you a defining moment that brought this truth into stunning clarity for me over 12 years ago.

I was hanging by a thin thread, felt lost, awkward, overwhelmed and losing hope.

Up until then I had been bent on “doing what I should” to make my parents proud and was miserable.

They had made huge sacrifices to make sure I, as the first college graduate of the family, “made it”. With both my parents only finishing grade school, yet both managing to come to the U.S. as teens and successfully building businesses throughout Chicago, their ambition was intimidating to say the least.  I went to school and obtained a degree they wanted, followed by a job they wanted and there I was at 23 on a beautiful spring day in Lakeview, Chicago, struggling to  get out of bed and just take a shower.

Hopelessness Rearing Its Ugly Head

Prior to this low point, I held a job at a bank for about 6 months that I hated so much, I cried while on commute to, most mornings. I was offered a marketing job with higher pay at a small woman owned marketing firm that sparked my first inkling of inspiration and happily accepted it, only to be fired  within the first month.

A seeming hauntingly familiar cloud of fear, panic and hopelessness came over me.

Hanging By a Thread

Feeling like a total and utter failure, I felt again on the same slippery slope I had been on in high school. I fearfully clung to 3 acts of morning self care that I had practiced in college, consisting of drinking lots of water first thing upon awakening, showering and eating a protein filled breakfast.  For about 2-3 weeks, I struggled with myself to complete those 3 things with the intention of not succumbing to the growing storm of hopeless and self berating thoughts raging in my mind.  

Taking the Teeniest Steps To Care For Myself

Towards the end of those weeks, I managed to add to  my routine, taking walks outside regardless of how I felt or the weather.

When my white knuckled marches outside became strolls and I could make 2 rounds around the block with more ease, and my bank balance became painfully low, I felt capable enough to search for a temporary job as a waitress to support myself until I figured out my next move.

Into The Mouth Of A Lion

Little did I know I was walking my fragile self into an environment that was only going to test my resilience even further. A few days into the job it became clear that the owner was a hot head and would rage at his employees when mistakes were made. I made a friend and we helped each other adapt to the chaotic environment he created. His outbursts were demeaning and humiliating and my coworker and I would often console each other, after bearing the brunt of yet another  one of his explosions. Feeling strapped for cash as the tips were great, I felt stuck without better options.

A Sprout of New Possibilities

To be able to return to that restaurant and pay my bills, I clung ever tighter to my self care routine. A month into the job, I began two new self care acts consisting of writing brain dumps while eating breakfast and filling a little pocket notebook with gratitude lists in times of a lull at the restaurant, or while on public transportation. Two months into the job I enrolled into community college to explore for the first time, options of work I would actually be interested in.

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Turning Point Forever

The moment of stunning clarity that I spoke of came when, about seven months into  the job, I made a mistake on an order and the owner caught it. He began to rage on me as usual, but this time was different. I don’t know exactly what had changed, but I was different.

Standing My Ground

I wasn’t scared, I didn’t feel sheer terror like before, but instead spoke calmly for the first time in the midst of his outrage and took full accountability for the mistake. I apologized and asked him what I could help out with in the kitchen to speed up correcting the order. He responded in a calmer tone and instructed me on what to do. I carried out what he said as efficiently and as calmly  as I had brushed my teeth that morning.  

Self Love Deep Into My Bones

Afterwards, my coworker came up to me and looked into my eyes. She saw there were no tears or recovery jitters from the terror like before and asked me “How did you do that?”. I told her I didn’t exactly know, but deep down, I began to understand from that day forward, that my tiny acts of self care had been empowering me on levels deeper than I could consciously detect.

A New World Revealed

My interactions with that owner changed from that day forward and no more than a month later a classmate let me know of a job opening at a physical therapy clinic he worked for. I interviewed for it, got the job and the trajectory of my life was changed forever.

That clinic was the most professional and respectful job environment I had ever been in. Everyone worked together as a team in earnest and simply being there was therapeutic for me. I began to  consider new possibilities for myself.

The Litmus Test Of Stronger Self Love

Hitting that low point helped me gain first hand experience on the transformation that could be had, when I was diligent with small acts of self care.  Feeling self respect while being yelled at by that restaurant owner was the litmus test I needed to confirm that the small steps of self care I had committed to, were changing me from the inside out.

Previous to that moment, I was top heavy with purely conceptual understanding about self love and self worth from all the self help books I had voraciously read. That moment made it undeniable that taking action helped me embody it

What I Know To Be True :

Every small act of self care taken, is a just little more water and sunlight on the seed of hope, dignity, resilience and possibility we all have within. The stronger that seed grows, the more we shed layers of who we think we are and grow more at home within our own skin

If you are struggling with being consistent in your self care or even starting it, know that the small efforts made, are well worth it and extendfar beyond stress relief.

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The Biggest Takeaway

Regular self care nurtures the blossoming of an anchored sense of self trust, self love and self acceptance.  This precious gift cannot be given by any job, relationship, status or amount of money, but can only be discovered in the recesses of our own heart as we spend time with ourselves

What does self care mean to you?

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Sending you love, a reminder to take care of yourself and a big thank you for stopping by!

2 thoughts on “How Self Care Extends Way Beyond Stress Relief

  1. This was a really good blog. Self care is extremely important to me, however I do find myself really on top of self care for a while then not paying to much mind to it for another while. When I don’t pay attention to my self care, oooh weee I feel it every where, especially my emotions. I think finding that balance is the most important to me right now, balance in what I consume both in my body and mind.
    Yesterday I decided out of the blue to go to the beach and take pictures and I am so glad I did. The goal was to capture awesome images and some how I sat there and just cried. I was feeling an overwhelming amount of joy and sadness all at once. The ocean was so beautiful, the children playing, the seagulls hovering….wow it was soooo breath taking. That was definitely needed. Self care for sure. Some times you just gotta sit with your emotions and your thoughts and just feel.
    Any who…good stuff here nena. XO.

    1. So true how we consume through all our senses and need to give them a rest from time to time. A day at the beach sounds sounds like something that would be a balm to all my senses. I’m completely on board with you about just making space to feel. Life moves so fast these days, but our hearts still process things at their own pace. It’s taken me time to accept that and give my heart what it needs. Thank you for sharing these gems Mimi and glad you found this helpful Mimi, big hearty cyber hug to you!

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