I couldn’t have been more wrong.
- Wake up at 5am
- Go to work
- Teach my butt off all day
- Coach cheerleading after school
- Stay after cheerleading to do extra work OR take girls home from practice
- Order takeout while doing more work at home
- Go to bed whenever (somewhere between 11 and 3)
- Repeat cycle
The worst part was that I didn’t even realize how much of a problem this was until I started getting stomach ulcers in my second year. The pain was unbearable. But my schedule remained the same. I was putting in the work and people around me were starting to notice. My kids were growing, I got summer job opportunities, and even did some work with the district. So, under the guise of “working hard” I continued to power through.
It wasn’t until I moved to Philadelphia after my final year of teaching that I realized just how much stress I had put my body under and just how much I wasn’t taking care of myself. I had gained close to thirty unhealthy pounds, distanced myself from my family and friends, and hadn’t done anything for myself in a very long time. Philadelphia is where I vowed to do life differently.
I’m definitely still no expert at self care, but I have gotten a whole lot better at recognizing its importance in valuing myself and living my best life. So here are just a few things that I’ve started doing to keep me sane:
Make Time for Yourself
There are passions inside you driving who you are; things that put you at peace and allow you the opportunity to re-center yourself. Maybe you’ve forgotten what those things are. Or maybe, like me, you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have time because you’re too busy at work or in school. Please don’t believe the lie. If you don’t have joy you won’t be your best self. So find what it is that brings you peace and joy and do it regularly (or daily if you can make it work).
For me, this includes the following:
- Working out 4-5 times per week – I was an athlete in high school and LOVE intense workouts. They give me time to clear my head and celebrate small victories.
- Reading daily – Every night before I go to bed, I take about 15-30 minutes (or when insomnia kicks in a couple of hours) to read a book I want to read; something that has no connection to school and no follow-up assignment. Reading helps me calm my mind before I go to bed and even gets my creativity flowing.
- Do NOTHING – A friend of mine and I were laughing about this the other day, but it’s so real. There are a few times this semester where I’ve found myself laying in the middle of my living room floor binge watching Luke Cage and eating popcorn while the seemingly never-ending stack of papers I have to write called my name from whatever hell hole they reside in. But you know what…when I got up those papers were still there. And you know what else? Eventually they get done. And no one (including my GPA) was harmed in the watching of Luke Cage (except my heart when I realized he was married…le sigh).
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the value of your village in your life. I really can’t say enough about this. Sometimes your friend might call you just to talk and you’ve got 18 things on your to do list that you think you need to get through in the next hour. Or maybe you turn down invitation after invitation because you just feel like you’ve got so many things going on at work. I know that feeling all too well. And giving into it only leads to a life of loneliness. Yes, sometimes we get busy. But other times we create our business to distance ourselves from the people around us and that’s dangerous. The tasks in your life that need to get done will get done. Make some time to spend quality time with the people around you. Prioritize their presence in your life.
My brain moves at a million miles per hour. #allday #everyday It NEVER stops! And that’s a double-edged sword. It’s great because I’m always thinking about something; trying to solve some problem. But in the same token it can be hard for me to shut it off long enough for me to get a good 6-8 hours of sleep at night. However, writing definitely helps me to sort through some of those thoughts and gives them a place to sit until I feel like picking them up again. If you’re not a writer, try making a practice of bullet pointing things you observed or thought about throughout your day. It can be anything, but give yourself that space.
Listen, before y’all come for me, I know that this tip oozes privilege. I get it. But I promise you I am not Daddy Warbucks and I have yet to meet him (however, sir, if you’re reading this…my number is (610)…jk…but seriously. Email me. Thx).
Traveling. Yes (focus, Autumn).
There are ways to do this on a tight budget. Tiffany is definitely the budget expert of this duo, but my wanderlust has forced me to become thrifty in some areas of my life. My biggest advice for traveling on a budget is to find cheap flights. Just Googling “flight from ________ to _______” is a good place to start. Google pulls up all of the flights and even tells you what days it’s cheapest to fly. Another little tidbit: Tuesdays are the best days to buy flights. Not sure why, but those are the facts. Trust me on this. (P.S. Cyber week is next week…last year during cyber week I bought a $600 round trip flight to South Africa. Do your research, folks).
It’s really easy to get bogged down in the scenery of our humdrum lives. Traveling allows you an opportunity to see the beautiful majesty of God’s creation. There is so much out there to see and so many beautiful people to meet. Try it once and I promise you won’t be sorry.
Say “No” Unapologetically
There are people, places, and things that suck the soul out of me. I used to feel bad about saying no to them, but I don’t anymore; saying yes for the sake of being polite will drive you insane (and maybe to drink)! It’s ok to say no in the name of self-care. In fact, I’m almost positive it’s a mandate. Try it today (you can’t say no here). I bet you’ll feel well rested the second you start.
Autumn is a former middle school literacy educator. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Teaching, Learning, Policy, and Leadership with a concentration in Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry at The University of Maryland - College Park.