Ten Ways to Self Care This Weekend

Now, you need not do all 10 but I believe in options. So that’s what I am leaving you with this week. Ten wonderful ways to self care and for the most part I think you can do them on any budget, whether you are single or partnered up, child bearing, free, or have three kiddos, live in the city or a place outside the city, and well you catch my drift. They are pretty friendly and feasible ways for you to give yourself some good lovin’ this weekend. Oh and there are giveaways. So read on, comment below and tweet me @AhyanaJenise using #SelfcateTSLL10 to win a self care kit.  See how committed I am to helping you be good to you. Until Monday! xxoo

Photo courtesy of Matt Stanley

Photo courtesy of Matt Stanley

First Friday

City, town, or hamlet (ok maybe not hamlets) but city and towns alike across the US often have First Friday events that are anywhere from free to low cost and open  to everyone. Do yourself a favor and after you read this post, google to see what is going on in your city/town tonight, cause it’s First Friday.  A lot of these events have two things in common- art and good eats. If you like either or both treat yourself and get out there. My quaint new little town with about four traffic lights, no Starbucks, and all the stores close at 5pm- has First Friday festivities. So yours probably does too! Google it.

Photo courtesy of Corbis Images.com

Unplug

It is easier than you think. I know your eye just twitched at the word unplug but you really will be okay. If you are not on call for your job, have a loved one in critical condition at the hospital, or have to pick someone up from soccer, work, the train station or airport, unplug for a stretch of time. It doesn’t have to be the entire day, but give yourself an hour even. And by unplug, I don’t just mean your phone, but tv, laptop, ipad, and all your blessed social media platforms. Just be with yourself as a way of being good to yourself. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin’, Snapchat, will go on just fine without you.

Photo courtesy of Real Beauty Spot.com

Bathe

Please don’t be insulted. I am not suggesting that you are one who doesn’t but if you are like many folk, you shower as opposed to actually bathing, like getting in the bath tub and soaking in whatever you choose (sometimes I like lavender, sometimes I’m all about oatmeal). Sometimes I play music and sometime I don’t. Sometimes I light candles, and sometimes I don’t. I love an early morning bath but don’t mind indulging in one later in the evening either. Run the water and soak away the cares of the day. For you moms- seriously, just take one before the kids wake up or after you put them to bed. You will thank yourself. The 3 minutes to shower instead or extra time in bed will be tempting but resist.

Photo courtesy of I Am Beyonce.com

Get outside

Unless you live in a place that is in the middle of a serious hail storm or the temperature is set on melt human flesh, get yourself outside. There is something about fresh air that really works wonders for the body. You can do whatever you desire. Garden, sit on the porch and read, take a walk around your neighborhood or development, go downtown and walk around your city’s numerous outdoor sculptures, murals, or dedicated outdoor spaces. Just get out!

Photo courtesy of Forever 21

Photo courtesy of Forever 21

Trip

As in take one. If you can. Even if it is a day trip. That is what I seriously love about the eastern seaboard. In a day, depending where you start, you can easily be in a quaint town or busy city within two hours or sometimes less and just explore that area for the day.  A perk to my new town- in under two hours I can be in DC, Philly, or Baltimore. Sometimes physically getting out of a familiar space just reawakens our sense of self, wonder, our creativity, and helps us tune in to what’s going on with us a little better.

Photo courtesy of Tasty Kitchen.com

Photo courtesy of Tasty Kitchen.com

Eat

Not to sound like your momma or your auntie, but don’t underestimate how eating a good meal can make you feel and fuel you for whatever else lies ahead. Growing up Saturdays were for “big breakfasts,” aka not cereal like we ate during the week. My mom would make home fries, bacon, sausage, homemade biscuits, and eggs. Or there were pancakes or even French toast. All that to say- weekends are perfect times for slowing down your morning routine, foregoing the Starbucks, Dutch Bros., or Dunkin Donuts. They are perfect times to contemplate what you are putting in your body, making the decision to put something good for your body in your body, and then getting  busy in the kitchen…or someone else’s kitchen. There is no shame self caring via eating at a local restaurant.

Photo courtesy of GQ Magazine

Photo courtesy of GQ Magazine

Dance

Sometimes I’m Beyonce. Sometimes I’m Janelle Monae. Sometimes I’m Michael Jackson. I really enjoy dancing, not for exercise. No you will not see me in anyone’s dance aerobics. But I do enjoy dancing around my house, sliding on my hardwood floors, and rocking out by myself. It’s exhilarating and I’ve never felt worse for it.

Photo courtesy of Dominique Bennett.com

Photo courtesy of Dominique Bennett.com

Write

I like writing. You know this because you read what I write. Thank you. I also keep a journal and sadly my current journal is coming to an end and I must get a new one. I know that seems less tragic tan I am making it but here’s the deal. I like journals without lines. I love the liberty of a lineless journal. Sometimes I write vertically and other times horizontally. Sometime I draw pictures and well the lines just jack all that up. Can I tell you how hard it is to find a decent lineless journal? The last one I got was on sale at Anthropologie in Seattle when I was visiting. But writing I have found to be the place where I find my voice and myself. It is unfiltered, uncensored, raw, vulnerable, passionate, 100% Ahyana. I highly recommend you sit down and write. Not text, tweet, type, but write. I also suggest getting yourself a nice journal to write in. There is power in words, putting them down on paper, and releasing them from our heads and hearts. 

Photo courtesy of Happy Day Out Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Happy Day Out Tumblr.com

Play

I still have a bottle of bubbles my dad gave me a few birthdays ago. The car that came with it reminded me to make time to play. I am 31 years old as of yesterday and I giggle and smile every time I open those bubbles and blow them even if just for a few minutes. Bubbles are super cheap. Go by a bottle and blow them please and thank you. If that doesn’t suite your fancy just do something that awakens and engages your inner kiddo. Do a few cartwheels, jump rope, got to the park and swing on the swing set, get your kid, bff, or partner to play a board game with you.

Photo courtesy of Everyday Trifles Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Everyday Trifles Tumblr.com

Rest

Don’t resist rest. Rest by the way is not necessarily sleeping or sitting and doing nothing but looking at your ceiling. Although it can be either or both of those things. Rest is really releasing the need to have to do any number of things. It is releasing al of the things on your to do list and taking in the moment and who you are in the moment. Okay that may be mindfulness. You catch my drift. Rest for me has been a nap. It’s been watching a movie and allowing myself to fall asleep if I so choose. It’s been drinking tea in my back yard and taking in the beautiful sky that the Pacific North West has trademarked (I really think it has), it’s been writing handwritten notes to friends, or creating corny cards to send to those who have a love/hate relationship with my corniness, it’s been curling up on the couch and reading a book. Our minds, bodies, souls need rest. If you really want to take care of yourself, rest.

Okay, so these are 10 things you could totally do this weekend to self care. And I am pretty sure that some of them, like bathe and eat you were going to do anyway. Why not do them with intention? And about that giveaway- oh I would love to send you a self care kit with goods to help you do a lot of the things on this list. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me which of these ten things you are going to try to do this weekend and send me a tweet @AhyanaJenise using #SelfcareTSLL10. Easy peasy and you are on your way to a lovely self care kit (stuff from my favorite shops to do just about everything on this list)  Just be sure to share by 11:59pm EST Sunday August 9th, 2015. Winners (there will b e two) announced next Friday on the blog!

Me Myself and Drugs

Photo courtesy of Esther Boutique

Photo courtesy of Esther Boutique

I will be 31 in a few days and a I reflect upon this past year I made decisions that I consider the greatest decisions I could have made this year. The first was to take a leave of absence from my old job and the second was to resign from that same job.  I remember my decision to take the leave of absence very clearly. Mostly because my other option was drugs.

It was a Wednesday morning in March and I had just woken up. Literally just smacked my alarm to keep it quiet and barely had both eyes open. As I sat up in bed I mentally rummaged my cabinet for any prescription drugs I still had that would put me in a mental and emotional daze for the day. I didn’t want to die and I didn’t mind physically showing up to work. I did mind having to be mentally and emotionally available. I crawled out of bed and started a variation of my morning routine (I skipped the gym), turned on the tea kettle and hopped in the shower. By the time I was finished the kettle went off. As poured the hot water into the blue mug I stared at the codeine ladened cough syrup bottle. I could mix it with the tea I thought. I reached for the bottle and I stared at it. Then I then put it back. I closed the cabinet door and wept. I cried for about thirty minutes. In fact at this point I had started to get up earlier during the week to leave myself enough time to cry and then pull myself together to head to the office on time.

I drank the cough syrup free tea and headed to campus. I was in a haze for much of the day but not a drug induced one. No it was a “What is happening to me?”  haze. How had I allowed myself to get the point of waking up and immediately wanting to disconnect from my reality? How had I allowed myself to be in a reality that was so painful? How did self medicating instead of self caring become a viable option?

Photo courtesy of Design Taxi.com

Photo courtesy of Design Taxi.com

Within the next week I called HR and shared I needed to take a leave of absence. Nevermind the fact that spring break was upon us and I was out of the office for the entire break. I was gonna need more than a week.  The woman in HR sounded alarmed, concerned, and of course HR- code for had the company’s best interest in mind. It didn’t matter. She walked me through the process which included going to my doctor. I went to my doctor where I blubbered my way through the appointment. All the doctor asked was what bought me in and I just went from human being to human puddle.  I took familiar questionnaires to assess my anxiety and depression. Familiar because as a former counselor I would administer and score them for my own clients.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised when they reflected symptoms high enough to warrant my doctor not only providing the medical documentation needed for HR to grant the leave of absence, but two medications, and her suggestion that I quit. “You are beautiful, bright, and I just think you can do way better than this place. Besides, they have demonstrated they won’t change and you have changed so much, you are sick. Go to the pharmacyand get yourself together, “ she said.

Photo courtesy of Me

Photo courtesy of Me

I took a month away to recuperate and get myself together. It. Was. Hard. The first two weeks were a struggle and I had to push myself. Push myself to eat, bathe, exercise, talk to concerned friends and family members, write, live. It was hard to live. Not exist. I was excelling at existing, but living felt painful.  The third week was still hard but getting easier and I am sure that was because I flew back east.

It was just before I left the east coast to head to LA for a few days that I went to DC and started to feel myself again. I didn’t mind going out and about to explore. I was excited to visit some of my favorite museums, take the train to the Pentagon city mall and shop, sit in Federal Triangle Park, get small eats from a variety of food trucks near my hotel, etc.

When I returned to work on campus I caught up with a dear colleague and friend. As I shared about my time away and even some of my concerns about my return we had the conversation that helped me quit. We had the conversation that echoed the sentiments my doctor spoke the month before.  I hadn’t been back on campus a week and knew that quitting was inevitable. It was inevitable because there was no way I could be the best version of me in that community. There was no way I could be a healthy mediocre version of me in that community. A drugged up counseling twice a week living pay check to paycheck because I spend my money on drugs and traveling version of me is probably what I could have mustered.

Photo courtesy of The Family Photo Journalist

Photo courtesy of The Family Photo Journalist

We live in an American society that measures our worth by how much we self deprecate as opposed to self care. We are constantly being measured by how hard we work, how long we work, how much we do, and how we struggled to do it. We accept anxiety and depression as norms, rites of passage seeking all those weary enough to cross there threshold, while the resort of rest and self awareness struggles to stay open for business. Please note, I am not taking lightly those who struggle with anxiety or depression. I am saying however that sometimes those diagnosis are responses to choices we make for lifestyles we choose to lead that are so unhealthy and feel more necessary than they really are. We look at self care as a luxury for the rich and famous. We declare ourselves neither and thus we don’t self care.

I started by sharing that I think during my 30th year I made two great decisions, a leave of absence and then quitting my job.  I think I really made one- to take care of myself by any means necessary.  Maybe that was God’s birthday gift to me these past 12 months and this month I am sharing that gift with you. Keep reading the blog this month, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for ways to self care, to encourage others in your life to do similarly, let go of the guilt that comes with taking time for yourself, and chances to win some things to help you with your self care journey. Remember, you are not selfish, lazy, or less than for making a commitment to be who you were created and purposed to be. And you aren’t selfish, lazy, or less than for deciding to leave a situation that doesn’t allow you to be such. You are the lead in your life and thus responsible for taking the lead in caring for yourself. You have to take the lead for making choices that allow you to be the person you were born to be and do the work you were gifted to do. Besides, when you model how to care for, love, forgive, be gracious towards you, others can follow suite. They can both learn how to do similarly for themselves but also how to do similarly towards or with you in their relationship with you. Here’s to you, me, us, and self care! xxoo #TSLLSelfcare

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo Tumblr.com