“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Words from the famous Lucille Ball.
When it comes to “self-love” and “self-care” you may catch yourself rolling your eyes or thinking it’s a bunch of “fluff,” and while we certainly understand that may be some people’s opinions, we know that it’s really a much deeper and more important topic. Self-Care is so important that September has been designated Self-Care Awareness Month.
While self-care is so important every month, we want to help you realize why we as a community need to truly put some time and effort into it this month. Because, it’s in this month of September that the days get shorter, the temperatures start to cool down and people start to go back into hibernation mode. Yet, this year with Covid-19 hitting just as spring was on the horizon and so many restrictions on gatherings and travel, you may feel like you never really came out of your hibernation. Just like a bear that comes out in the spring, he spends the summer and early fallout and about in the world and filling himself up for his long winter nap. While bears may mostly fill themselves with food to survive the long cold winter, you too probably need some filling up too!
How we “fill” ourselves in the spring and summer isn’t exactly like a bear, but it often is a way of filling up our own cup to help us stay quenched through the long, cold and dark winters ahead. What is unique about us all is that our cups require different ingredients to fill them. For most of us our cups are filled with things like connections, experiences, visits, shopping, movement, and more. It’s in these spring and summer activities that we fill our cups, lift our spirits and fulfill our needs to give us the stamina to make it through the winter.
Many people spend the warmer months reuniting with friends and family, with celebrations and gatherings for milestones and to just enjoy time in each other’s company. Then those special moments and memories can carry them through the cold winter when loved ones (or maybe even yourselves) head south or relocate for winter. This year, with graduation parties and weddings being canceled or downsized, you may have lost out on those connections that fulfil you and renew you. Maybe you missed your annual family reunion or yearly visit with college friends. Instead of letting those moments of joy be taken and leaving your cup dry, you can reach out now!
Fill your cup with connections by reaching out to friends and family. Plan family zoon gatherings or get all your girlfriends together for a happy hour video chat. Being distant doesn’t mean being disconnected and chances are the longer you stay disconnected the harder it will be to connect later when those feelings of winter isolation hit. Caring for yourself is also connecting and showing care for others. Reach out and make plans now for calls and virtual visits this fall and winter.
While connecting with others is important to most people to feel loved and fulfilled, caring for yourself and reconnecting with yourself is crucial too! After all, if you aren’t caring for yourself and filling your own cup so to speak, it will be much harder to pour from that empty glass to others. Now is the time to check-in and see how you are feeling. What is missing? What is in the way of your best self-care? Are you feeling lonesome? Are you skipping out on things you enjoy? Are you letting personal hygiene and cleanliness habits fall by the wayside since, “you won’t be seeing anyone away?” Take a good look at where you are right now so you can make a self-care plan.
Make a list of all the things that are obstacles, issues or problems on one side of paper. On the other side list some things that might help knock that obstacle out of the way, resolve the issue or erase the problem. Feeling lonely? Would you like to adopt a pet? Take an online class? Find some virtual groups for connection? Skipping out on things you enjoy? List all the things you enjoy, if you can’t think of anything list things you remember liking in the past. Personal hygiene and cleanliness may seem silly but if you are working from home its easy to skip brushing your teeth or washing those same pajama pants you’ve been wearing for weeks on end. Make a list of things you know you should be doing or need to get done.
Lastly, at the bottom of the page write about how you will feel when you get these things done or start implementing them back into your life. What do you hope to attain from that new online class? What might you name your rescue cat? How will you feel when you get a haircut and put fresh linens on the bed? These are ways of practicing self-care.
Self-care is sometimes thought of as being lazy or just watching movies and eating junk food all weekend. And perhaps in can be in moderation. But true self-care means literally caring for yourself in a loving way for the greater good. When you show love for yourself and put that into action you may find you are slowly filling up that cup with what can help sustain you in the days ahead. Now would also be the time to reach out to a counselor if you know your mental health is struggling or that seasonal affective disorder is something that is a reality for you. Now is also the time to call your doctor if you haven’t been keeping up with your preventative appointments. Do everything you can now to prepare yourself for a successful, healthful winter filled with self-care, self-love and compassion. At the end of the day, you live with you! So take care of yourself! Make it a priority now and always. No matter the season and even when it’s not National Self-Care Awareness Month, remember that you matter, and you can’t pour from an empty glass. So, fill your cup!
Director of The Wellness Center