Self-Care: What a Difference a Year Makes

May 13, 2013

One day shy of a year ago, I wrote my first self-care article. It was about journaling as self-care. And it was well received and I was happy to have written it. I’ve written just shy of a dozen more articles on self-care. 466210_10151581674014158_2033811684_o

Time for a dose of honesty. Even though I know the best things that bereaved parents can do for themselves, I don’t always do them for myself!

Yep, that’s right. When I wrote about exercise, I was doing a little bit of exercise, but I didn’t sustain it for very long. Winter came, yada yada. Excuses, excuses. I’m not always the best at finding “me time”, with the understanding that “me time” is quality time alone with myself and little to no items on my mental to-do list. Kind of high standards, right? And I don’t always find time to meditate every day.

So, what’s the difference the year has made? I really am starting to take good care of myself. In January, an awesome friend invited me to a women’s boot camp. At 5:45 every morning. Yes, really. At the time, I considered myself to be a night owl. I have always had a hard time getting to bed before midnight and getting up before 8. Even when I had the boys, I would figure out ways to try to keep my schedule to some degree. So, when she told me that this boot camp was at the crack of dawn, I was less than enthusiastic. But I went for it. And I’ve been going there 4-6 days a week since January. Totally hooked! I’ve lost over 15 lbs and 5 in off of my waist! Also, I’m getting crazy strong! Following my own self-care advice paid off. Huh.

In another self-care moment–an attempt to reconnect with my significant other, my husband and I started taking a running class, “Train for Your First 5K.” I was the type person who made the joke about “I only run if someone is chasing me.” But there we were, every Saturday morning, running for 30 minutes. We had to run during the week, too. And we couldn’t slack, because it would show during the next class when we increased the duration of our run and decreased the walking duration. Did I stick with it? We ran our first race in March and I’ve run 3 more 5Ks since then, and plan to run at least one per month from now on. I feel stronger than ever.

Next on my list is to write morning pages every day and meditate every day. I know I can do it. If I get myself up 15 minutes earlier, I can get the writing done and if I put the laptop down 15 min earlier at night, I can take that time to revive my meditation practice.

So, what’s the difference the year made? I finally decided to start taking my own advice to heart, fully. And I finally figured out that once I established one healthy routine, the others would follow. My sister-in-law died suddenly at age 39 back in March–which is why I published no April article–and it would have been very easy to let my routines go. But even during the week of all of the events surrounding her death, I took the time to attend to my needs. That’s something I couldn’t and wouldn’t do when Colin died. But I’ve learned the value of being kind to oneself, especially in the face of tragedy.

The takeaway? I think the articles I wrote over the course of the last year are worthwhile, and while I wasn’t always practicing what I was “preaching” (though I hope I didn’t come off as preaching), I’ve begun to. And you know what? Self-care works. Learn from my lessons. Don’t wait. Start today.

  • Rachel Kain works in IT to make ends meet, but her real passions are writing, music, food, and yoga. She blogs about motherhood, CHD, child loss, and anything else that interests her at Writers Write. Follow her on Twitter: @rjkain

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