I started reflecting on self-care a few days ago as I was laying on the exam table at a physical therapy office. My PT pushed on extremely tender trigger points on my back. While some may not categorize medical appointments as self-care, I do. As I see it, I am taking a positive step in my health. Even though I was grimacing in pain, I knew it was self-care.
Strange as it may sound, good self-care is often less like a bubble bath and more like someone firmly pressing down on our life and heart for the purpose of healing.
This is the kind of self-care that I sometimes avoid, and know that I am not alone. I love time to myself – naps, pedicures, all the “fun” self-care activities. Don’t get me wrong, these definitely have a place in a life of balance and add joy to our weeks. However, I have noticed that it is the less comfortable self-care activities from which I tend to see long-term fruit. I believe that counseling easily falls into this category. The work I do with clients, although providing relief, can also be emotionally painful. It takes a lot of energy to face your shame, secrets, and struggles, let alone to bare them to another person.
With that in mind, I’d like to offer some next steps:
- I would encourage reflection and vision-casting for hard self-care. How far have you come in your healing journey? Where would you like to be in several months? Questions like these can increase your motivation to persevere.
- I would also suggest incorporating activities, hobbies, or other self-care that do feel fun. We all need to blow off steam, laugh, and take a deep breath. Community can be very encouraging for these situations. Our friends and family can be our cheerleaders to continue exercise, physical therapy, counseling, etc.
- Finally, if you are walking through a season when your self-care feels more difficult than fun, I want to encourage you to keep pressing on.
The work you are doing is healing, and healing is hard.
Written by: Melanie Ross