Reflecting on a year of gratitude and self care

Posted on January 1, 2018

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At the beginning of 2017, I had not made any resolutions. In fact, a resolution kind of followed me and made me adhere to it! I began to maintain a daily gratitude journal simply because my soul was begging me to. I’d say I wrote regularly for almost 7-8 months. You can read about it here – “800 Positive Things in My Life”.

Another idea took root at the same time. I wanted to take care of me. So began my year of self-care. The year saw me go to physiotherapy, osteopath, massage therapy, women’s support group and a therapist. I also was regular with my yoga and daily walks after meals. My body had never looked and felt better! However, as the year passed, I began to go through a lot of stress in my professional life. I won’t go into the details, but in the end, I decided to quit my job and start my own consulting business and private practice in 2018. It was the hardest decision I have made professionally, considering I loved my job!

Both these experiences – of maintaining a daily gratitude practice and stepping out of my comfort zone to care for myself – taught me a great deal about self-care and myself.

Here’s my two-penny bit on what self-care means to me today:

  1. Self-care

    Source: Pinterest

    Self-care is setting boundaries and saying no. I learned that I have limited resources and I have to use them wisely. I began to set limits on how involved I got in the lives of others. It’s not that I turned people away – I was honest when I did not have the bandwidth or the resources to help someone.

  2. Self-care is doing less. My therapist told me that I treat myself as a project. I set goals and I achieve them. In the process, I tire myself out. In 2017, I learned that less is more. I chose to limit my participation in extra activities at work and took a break from my volunteering as well.
  3. Self-care is taking a break / giving up what you love. Even though my volunteering stint at the Survivor Support Program (providing supportive counselling to family and friends of those who have died by homicide / suicide) brings me immense satisfaction, I had to take a break, because I was really burnt out.
  4. Self-care is showing up when you don’t want to. In the months when I was writing my gratitude journal, there were days I was too tired to write, but I still did. I never regretted maintaining the habit, but I did when I didn’t write!
  5. Self-care does not always feel good in the short term. Giving up my job that paid reasonably well, and brought me immense satisfaction and helped solidify my self-confidence, was hard. But, to give an agriculture analogy – it’s time to rotate the crop and yield new fruits.
  6. Self-care requires discipline. Being in the helping profession, I put myself last constantly. It isn’t hard work per se to sit down for 10 minutes every day to reflect, but it’s easier to give in to inertia and not do it.
  7. Self-care requires solitude. Taking breaks from social media was crucial in 2017. I find that shutting the world out helps in opening myself up to myself. I have time to listen to my inner voice and needs. If I am constantly comparing myself to others, how will I do what I need? How will I know what I need if I am trying to keep up with others.
  8. Self-care requires self-awareness and honesty. I found that I had to admit that I needed help. The daily gratitude journal was a fabulous way of generating self-awareness. On days when I found it hard to find things to write, I’d ask myself, is your life empty, or is it empty because it doesn’t have what others have? 
  9. Self-care requires keeping one’s ego in check. I have a great life and I had become a bit smug and a trifle complacent and a tad over confident. Keeping sight of my vision for my life enabled me to reset my goals and realign my plan to something that I wanted rather than what was expected of me or felt like a natural progression.
  10. Self-care doesn’t always requires money. Yes, money for massages is great. However, there are so many things one can do that do not require a lot of money. In 2017, I began moisturizing my body daily with coconut oil. It made me feel like I was doing a good job of caring for myself and my body felt loved and nourished. If you haven’t had issues with body image, you might find it hard to understand. But my body and soul got connected in those few quick moments every morning.

And here’s a quick look at how being grateful has helped me:

A. I chase the little things in life.

What are you planting?

What are you planting for 2018?

B. I am kinder and gentler with myself and the world.

C. I am more mindful as I go about my day.

D. I feel lucky.

E. I am more positive.

F. I am less envious of others.

G. I can recover from failure more easily.

H. I have more energy.

I. I believe in myself.

J. I believe in the goodness of the world.

As a therapist, I believe in walking the walk! I would love to hear more from you about your goals and learnings from 2017. Happy new year! Cheers.

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