Beyond Traditional Self-Care

Debra Gudema

January 16, 2023


When spa baths and oils are not enough

I will be the first to promote and advocate self-care rituals as the tools to help ease stress, anxiety, and whatever rigors one may face. At the onset of the pandemic, I was also a new mother to my second child….and any compassionate mother and human knows postpartum is around and real. From work to managing Well&Co, and the various other hats I wear, there have been ample times when my mindfulness practices were ineffective. Let’s face it, the pandemic took a toll and was the most significant challenge for everyone.

Well&Co was curated around mindful living habits, yet my current emotions during the pandemic, and post, contradicted some of my writings. Less content was filling my blog due to my inability to find the balance and stability I traditionally champion to my readers. How could I write and propose one thing if I was feeling gloomy? I often transcribed the following sentence in my daily journal, “take your advice!” That was often easier said than done.

Guilt has also lingered in my psyche. I would feel shame for the emotions I was experiencing. Who was I to feel stressed when others have more significant hardship?  Who was I to even complain? As such, I would try to move forward each day on my work deliverables, family obligations, and various commitments, and when possible, embrace me-time. With each mindfulness practice, the transition to a calm place was arduous.  Slowly I came to recognize my lethargy was not only caused by stress and being a mom with a new baby but also burnout.  The hours of traditional self-care methods I relied on lacked the anticipated outcome. 

As time passed, I began to reevaluate what mattered to me. Being happy is ideal, but calm and peace sounded more rewarding. Therefore my daily planner required reappraisal.  While many tout the idea of “busy” as glamorous and empowering, busy was rightfully destroying me. My level of busyness was restraining me from helping myself, and therefore, burnout was the result. Learning to press the pause button is the hardest thing one can do. When we are programmed to be busy, as Brene Brown writes in her book Dearing Greatly, this act becomes the universal numbing strategy to ignore pain. 

Establishing boundaries in the personal and professional arena was the necessary self-care required to rehabilitate some of my stress.  Reevaluating the definition of self-care beyond spa baths was vital, most notably as I entered the continued months in the pandemic.  Redefining mindfulness as it pertains to my health has been liberating but not an absolute correction.  That was just one leap towards better health and wellness.

True self-care determines what you accept and your actions to create healthy changes. Building a support system that you can rely on, curating healthy boundaries, and placing pride aside to seek support are significant proponents of nourishing our mental wellness. 

If you are experiencing burnout or need the motivation to press the pause button, please consider what tasks you can relinquish and seek support while surrounding yourself with those who genuinely love and care about you. An empathetic and compassionate person won’t judge you as the pandemic impacted everyone, even those who deny it. 

I hope this post helps put in perspective that everybody is struggling in some capacity, and we must end the taboo of talking about needing extra support, love, and care. Being able to redefine self-care as it pertains to your health is a start in the right direction. 

Photo Credit: TreCharmantes