I was away at Aruba for a week! And it was incredible. Every day I slept in a king-sized bed with my husband, could stand on our porch overlooking the ocean and beautiful scenery, and walk downstairs to one of three pools. It also had incredible weather and I could get food (all-inclusive) 24/7. David and I went snorkeling (which I loved, but David not so much), on a jeep adventure (like the ones from Jurassic Park – if only there were dinosaurs!), and even in a submarine to view the ocean life and a ship wreck.
I used the trip as an opportunity for what I needed most: to check-out from life altogether. One of the nights, while I was relaxing I told David what I’m about to confess to all of you: I wouldn’t trade my career path of advocating for survivors of sexual trauma for anything. I absolutely love speaking and sharing my story, all while helping others overcome their own stories of trauma. It is a gift and a calling. But when I was in Aruba, I didn’t have to be the woman who has PTSD or who survived sexual trauma. I didn’t have to fit the mold of an 8 to 5 job or worry about money or fulfill other obligations. I didn’t even bring my phone and only allowed myself to read for fun. I had no agendas, no checklists, no pressures.
Aruba was my ultimate self-care, exactly what I needed when I needed it.
Self-care must be something you actively plan, not just something that happens. And the why matters just as much as the what. First you have to ask why self-care? What needs are you trying to meet through self-care? Then you have to ask why that specific self-care. Which activities are going to fill you and which will leave you empty? At its core, self-care is about identifying and meeting your needs! Rest and replenish sound relieving to the mind that seeks self-care. Seek activities that meet needs and make you feel a certain way:
Listen to music Listen to birds in nature Listen to the chatter in your favorite café
Go on a walk Go on a mini adventure Go on a big escape
Staycation Stay warm Stay surrounded by people who make you comfortable
Eat healthy Eat something you’ve never tried Eat something that gives you that feeling
Sleep a full 8 hours Sleep with new sheets Sleep in instead of having an agenda
Exercise in the park Exercise for a strong heart Exercise to a song
Talk to a counselor Talk through a journal Talk a poem
Read a book for fun Read the titles to a foreign movie Read your trip itinerary
Visit your doctor Visit the mall Visit a counselor for help
Get a massage Get your hair done Get a tan on the beach
Allow yourself to have fun Allow yourself to cry Allow yourself to check out and relax
Press pause on your schedule Press play on the remote Press stop on inner Eeyore
Remind yourself you matter Remind yourself you’re not alone Remind yourself you’re needed
Self-care can also include the absence of something, such as not checking your emails or Facebook. I realize not everyone heals the same way or can use the same self-care techniques often (such as a trip to Aruba). But self-care is important for everyone and especially for survivors of sexual trauma.
If you’re reading this,thinking I do not deserve self-care, I don’t have time for self-care, I don’t have the resources for self-care, then you may be in a season when you most need self-care.