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NewPath Therapy Blog | There is No “Right” Time for Self-Care

There is No "Right" Time for Self-Care

By Kierra Bridgewater, LPC

There is No "Right" Time for Self-Care

By Kierra Bridgewater, LPC

Picture this: I’m at Lamar University, and one of my professors has tasked my classmates and me with implementing self-care as our homework assignment. I remember my initial thought being, “Great! I don’t have any homework.” The following week I returned to class, and my professor then asked each of us what method of self-care we implemented. As I listened to some of my professor’s responses to my classmates, I remember feeling as if I misunderstood the assignment. I had spent my days running errands, working, catching up on homework assignments, and doing other tasks in my planner; however, after discussing what self-care was with my professor and classmates, I realized that for me, there was a difference between self-care and self-maintenance. 

Self-Care vs. Self-Maintenance

You may leave this blog momentarily to look up the definitions; however, allow me to paint the picture further. Fast forward to today, I wake up today and make a to-do list, and as I go through my day, I check off all the boxes. I define self-maintenance as the tasks that we do on autopilot to meet societal norms and that have been learned through experience and ingrained in you. For example, when I wake up in the morning, I brush my teeth, I get dressed, and at night I take a shower just like my parents taught me; however, it is now like second nature. It’s also vital to ensure that I acknowledge autopilot looks different for everybody. For some, it may look like showering in the morning or asking yourself if you locked your front door or turned off your stove after leaving the house. 

Self-care, on the other hand, is about overall wellness, which promotes physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health. When intentional about doing things for ourselves, we may benefit from an increase in energy and functionality. In addition, self-care is doing something that encourages you to relax, exert energy, be creative, and help you get out of your head. It is also picking up a hobby that you’ve always wanted to try but never got the chance to or considering a leisure activity that you enjoy that once worked for you. 

Woman in a bathtub

Self-Care Strategies

The first strategy that I will share with you is a technique that I learned from my mentor called an “ABC Coping Skill List.” The first thing that you would do is grab a piece of paper and write the letters A through Z on the left side. After writing the alphabet, you will write a coping skill for each letter. For example, movies or mowing your yard for the letter M, working out for the letter W, reading for R, listening to music for the letter L, or gardening for G. After you have completed this list, you want to select one coping skills to dedicate at least thirty minutes of your time to for at least three days a week, which brings me to the title of this blog. 

For someone who wears many hats, such as wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, employee, friend, and more, I’ve learned that there is no “right” time to implement self-care; however, I also realize that this may be universal amongst us as human beings, so the next strategy that I will share with you is time blocking. With time-blocking, you would set a 30-minute timer while you complete your self-care activity and coping skills. The technique encourages you to block off the 30 minutes on your calendar and take it seriously by not rescheduling or canceling. In addition, I would like to add that it’s essential to have already picked out a coping skill and have whatever you need easily accessible before starting your enjoyable activity. 

Obstacles for Self-Care

After living in chaos, running on fumes, and simply being in survival mode, it becomes our new normal. Also, just because it feels normal doesn’t mean it’s healthy or should be done; however, that doesn’t mean that it will be easy to change your habits but that it will be an act of trying and doing your best. Lastly, I encourage you to consider what’s stopping you from being a healthier version of yourself and implement self-care.