Self-Care Series pt. 1: The Importance Of Rest

Rest is important.

Boom, bang, done. If there’s anything I want you to glean from this post, it is the importance of rest and taking the time you need to re-energize and re-fuel yourself.

For someone who is a rest advocate, I will confess I am not great at prioritizing time to rest myself. It is easy for my calendar to fill up quickly, to find myself running from here to there, and to realize I’m drained after it’s too late.

Take it from me — don’t be like me! Carve out time to rest. Whether it’s physically sleeping, or just sitting in silence, your body needs to rest.

Some ways I rest include:

  • Power naps (20 minutes or less, or else I feel groggy)
  • Putting away social media for a dedicated period of time
  • Cuddling with my pup Jack on the couch while listening to music

Maybe some of these resonate with you, maybe some of them don’t. I would encourage you to find what works best for you, find what makes you feel rested and what helps you reset mentally, physically, and emotionally.

It is easy for us to get caught up in the whirlwind of life — to get sucked into obligations and commitments and occasions. But let’s remember that in order to help and serve others, we also have to help and serve ourselves. And part of helping and serving ourselves includes giving our bodies the time they need and crave.

Let’s do it! Let’s do nothing. Let’s rest.

How To Love Yourself: On Self-Care

My friend Rachel and I have a saying:

“Help me help you help me.” This phrase among us started as a joke, but in reality, it’s not the worst advice. Yes, it sounds selfish and manipulative.

But hey, let’s look further than that and get to the point: Self-care is important, and we should all partake in it often.

I am often preoccupied keeping up with every little person and thing but myself: my job, community, involvement, church, chores and house maintenance. It’s like the whole world completely absorbs me and I’m sucked in to-doing my life away.

But then I become over-exhausted and overwhelmed and fully aware I need Jesus and rest. I must get a grip on self-care before I take on the world.

Here are my top 10 self-care activities:

  1. Reading the Bible — spiritual rest is as important to me as physical rest. When I feel rundown and drained, I sit at the kitchen table with my Bible, pen in hand, expecting good things to come and peace to wash over me.
  2. Climbing — exercise can be a great stress-reliever for me. Whether I climb alone or with friends, it harnesses all of my energy and focus into one place, one sport, one mindset for a good hour or more.
  3. Phoning a friend — I’m a quality time and words of affirmation person, which can wither long-distance friendships. It’s always nice to phone a friend, someone I care about, and be fueled by their encouragement and verbal presence.
  4. Baking — similar to climbing, baking distracts me from my worries. It’s hands-on and demands attention, so I’m sucked into the world of measuring, mixing and making something tasty.
  5. Finding a dog — as hilarious as this trick seems, petting animals really soothes me. Cats give me anxiety, so the closest domestic animal is a dog. Sometimes I’ll go to my parents’ to give my brother’s dog Champ some well-deserved attention.
  6. Resting — even if I’m not asleep, it’s helpful for me to lie down or just sit still for a few moments, to clear my mind of my worries and tasks.
  7. Playing or listening to music — music has a way of letting me escape reality, it calms me and requires my presence.
  8. Walking — I’m not a runner, never have been and likely never will be. But walking slows me down and lets me engage in self-reflection. I’m typically down for a walk-and-talk quality time with dear friends to disengage from the real world for a bit.
  9. Taking a bath — sometimes I just feel dirty, so I grab my bubble bath, light a candle and start that hot water to rejuvenate my evening. It’s always nice to feel clean.
  10. Turning off my phone — I often need a break from the world: from Instagram photos and Facebook statuses, texts and calls. Time away from my phone renews my mind and lets me focus on what matters: the present.

I encourage you to care for yourself.

I don’t think we can fully help others until we help ourselves. We do not have the capacity to 110% love and give and go and do unless we ourselves are loved and have received. I don’t think it’s selfish to think this way, I call it self-preservation.

If we help ourselves, we can help others. If we give to ourselves, we can give to others. If we care for ourselves, we can care for others. So help me, help you, help me.

Anxiety 101: How I Combat High-Functioning Anxiety

Anxiety affects different people differently.

For the longest time, it was hard to recognize anxiety in my life.

thought waking at 2 a.m. with a racing heart was just a normal college thing, a side effect of a busy lifestyle. I thought thinking and believing and dwelling on failure was just a normal woman thing, a side effect of striving for perfection.

But neither of these are “normal,” neither of these experiences should happen often, yet I had them on a weekly basis for the longest time.

I struggle with high-functioning anxiety.

Instead of hiding in my room or bursting into tears or even self-harm, I thrive when anxious. In an attempt to look good, feel good and be good, I work work work hard at maintaining a perfect image.

I do my best to look normal on the outside, when I feel anything but on the inside.

My anxiety births itself when I am busy, when I have plenty to do and plenty more on my mind. It comes to life in the form of insomnia. It breeds negative and false thoughts.

So how do I cope with anxiety?

As said, anxiety affects different people differently, so different people cope differently. In the past year, since discovering my anxious habits and self-destructive thoughts, I have worked hard at abolishing my fears and doubts.

Here are my go-to’s:

  1. Prayer- I lift up my anxieties (Am I able to pay next month’s rent? Am I able to fall in love?) to the One Above who hears my cries.
  2. Meditation- Sometimes through yoga, but often simply laying in my bed, I sit in peace and quiet. I breathe in and out.
  3. Exercise- Climbing often takes my mind off worries and doubts and fears. I zone out from the demands of this world and zone into breathing, reaching, stretching.
  4. Rest- Physical, and more importantly, spiritual rest help me thrive. I nap and I read my Bible and I focus on my hopes and dreams and all good things currently happening in my life.
  5. Rejuvenation- This usually comes in the form of spending quality time with a quality person. I’m thankful for wonderful friends who speak Truths and encourage me when I am wary.

I hope you don’t struggle with anxiety, but if you do, I hope you know you are fully able to combat it with the right practices, prayer and people.

I hope you know you are an extraordinary person and you are strong for fighting this silent killer.

I hope you know you are not alone and never will be, that anxiety takes a toll on many of us, you just can’t see it.

I hope you know you are capable of living a full and happy and wonderful life. Because you, yourself are wonderful. Because you are loved. Because you are more than anxiety.

My 6-Step Wellness Check: What’s Really Going On?

Can I get a wellness check, 1-2?

Just like a mic check, sometimes I need to self-assess to ensure all of me works according to the best of its ability.

Sometimes I forget to eat. I become caught up with my to do’s and checks and social engagements. I become caught up in getting here on time, there before that, sending this before getting there. And by the end of the day, my grumbling stomach is like, “Yo, crazy lady! I need food.”

Oops.

Sometimes I can’t sleep. It’s usually due to anxiety — thank God for insomnia meds, am I right? Without those guys, I would legit run on a handful of hours of sleep each night. When I monitor my sleep and realize it’s wonky, I pop a Trazodone, sleep like a baby and feel much, much better.

So how do I assess my wellness? Like so:

  1. Food— am I getting enough calories, proteins, fruits and veggies?
  2. Sleep— am I clocking enough physical rest hours in? Do I need to take some pills to ease the edge of laying awake in bed?
  3. Energy— am I exhausted or energetic, or in-between? Am I jumping off the walls or nodding off during work (YIKES)?
  4. Mood–as a woman with BP, it’s essential to monitor moods. Am I cranky, sad, happy, angry, or all of the above? Where do those emotions come from? Have I processed them or stuffed them deep down in the crevices of my heart?
  5. Spiritual–perhaps the most important, I must must must maintain spiritual rest. Daily. Not optional. Absolutely necessary. Am I getting enough of it? What takes up my time instead of prioritizing this?
  6. Social–do I run myself dry on hanging with friends? Am I lonely and feel isolated? I often struggle to find middle ground, but I do my best to seek it out.

Do you ever just “be?”

My therapist Chelsea asked my last session. I didn’t understand the question. She clarified:

Do you ever live in the moment? Consider how you feel and just accept it? Accept you will have down, depressed days? But also great, happy days? Do you ever just let yourself be?

I answered, “Well…no. Hardly ever.” I have a problem just being, staying, sitting. That’s why you have to call me “Mae, Be,” because Lord knows I won’t “be” unless you remind me.

So reader, I challenge you this: perform a wellness check — you can make up your own steps and how often you would like to do it. I usually try to once every couple of weeks, but more often if I feel stressed or overwhelmed.

And furthermore, just be. Savor the moment. Savor the ups and downs and in-between’s. Just be. Be.