Last year I worked with Holocaust survivors, who taught me a lot about life and love and humanity. It was incredibly rewarding – I was acting as a social worker, assisting my clients with obtaining services they needed and providing some basic supportive counseling.
But as you might imagine, the work was heavy. Traumatic stories from the past were the every day. Many clients faced troubles in their old age that weighed on my heart. It was a lot to carry. I did a lot of crying on the subway and holing myself up in my room away from roommates and friends because I was so emotionally exhausted.
Social workers talk a lot about the importance of self care, or the practice of taking time to recharge and reboot. It’s a necessary component of being able to pour out your all for the people around you who count on you to be full. I see it as being a pitcher of water. You can give and give to the cups around you, but if you’re not filling yourself back up, you’re going to run out eventually.
I had to learn how to perform a lot of self care in order to be my best self and continue on with the work I was doing. I got it down to a science. This year, as I work as a therapist in the psychiatric wing of the hospital where the clients wrestle with psychotic disorders, I feel a lot better than I did at my last job. I know it’s because I’m taking care of myself better.
There are a lot of ways to go about self care, but here are my favorite 50 ways to make sure I’m energized and ready to go.
- Take a run or go on a long walk.
- Buy a journal and write it out.
- Take a 15 minute break to do something you enjoy.
- Paint your nails.
- Finally watch that documentary you’ve been thinking about for ages.
- Wander through a bookstore.
- Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Volunteer in a meaningful way.
- Paint a picture, even if you suck.
- Treat yourself to a fun dessert.
- Burn your favorite candle.
- Put on some tunes and dance it off.
- Read for 30 minutes before bed instead of looking at your phone.
- Clean out your closet.
- Make a decorative craft for your living space.
- Write a letter to a friend or family member (perhaps a thank-you note?).
- Try something for the first time, like a restaurant, hobby, or new route home.
- Bake a treat or cook a meal for yourself.
- Perform some yoga in your own living space (you can find them on YouTube!).
- Plan a trip.
- Brew a cup of tea.
- Take a nap, or make sure you get your 8 hours of sleep tonight.
- Make a list of everything you’re thankful for.
- Spend some time in the sun.
- Find a place to people watch.
- Practice breathing deeply and thinking fully.
- Have a chill night in with a few friends.
- Write down all the things you’ve done well this week.
- Remind yourself to do what you can, and that is all.
- Attend a religious service or spiritual gathering of some kind.
- Organize the drawers in your living space.
- Watch your favorite movie, even if you’ve seen it 80 times before.
- Go on a last-minute adventure to unwind and relax.
- Allow yourself 15 minutes to vent to someone you trust.
- Cuddle with an animal or a consenting person.
- Get outside and play a sport you enjoy.
- Buy yourself a new, cheap outfit you’ve been needing.
- Listen to some music on your commute.
- Try a new anti-anxiety technique, like one of these.
- Make a memory box of your cherished ticket stubs, cards, and other mementos.
- Plan a weekend trip away.
- Attend your favorite sporting event or theatrical production.
- Set aside some time to get to know yourself.
- Make a gift for a friend and mail it to them.
- Complete a hardcore workout.
- Take a coffee break.
- Make a bucket list, or add to your old one.
- Lean in to negative feelings and spend time thinking them through.
- Remind yourself that you are enough.
What do you do to practice self care? How does your technique fill you up?
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