In today's guest post from YBCer Cailin, she's sharing her personal journey from self-destruction to self-care. I hope it inspires you - leave her some love in the comments section below! xoCandace
I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology because of my deep interest in human beings and how the brain and emotions work. I had been frustrated for many years because I felt as though I had a decent understanding of at least the basics of mental health but I was unable to help myself with my struggles with depression and anxiety. I struggled to deal with these issues in an adaptive way and turned to maladaptive behaviors to cope. The worst of these behaviors was (and still sometimes is) binge drinking. I drank heavily on average 4 days a week and would pick up a bottle of wine whether it was to celebrate or to drown a traumatic day at work. I would finish that giant bottle of wine. I would finish it with ease. I did not think that I had a problem because drinking was such a focus of my social interactions and my level of drinking was fairly comparable to my friends and co-workers. It wasn’t until my now husband and my therapist both asked me if I had considered whether I have a drinking problem or not. This triggered a huge realization that I was turning to alcohol instead of actually dealing with my difficult emotions.
While in the midst of this internal struggle I was aimlessly scrolling though Pinterest and found this post about making a self-care plan and I was sold immediately! I started by making a list and actually following it more consistently than I had followed anything before. I started reaping the benefits from this almost immediately. I found that planning times to do simple things like taking a walk at work could improve my mood and increase my productivity.
Along with finding this blog post on making a self-care plan, I was in love with the idea of the bullet journal so I started tracking my self-care plan. Along with tracking my plan, I gave myself points for each activity and if I reached a certain goal, I treated myself to a bigger self-care indulgence such as a massage or a pedicure.
This plan has been so easy for me to be consistent with and follow through with even if I don’t remember to mark my tracker daily. I have learned that taking a long, hot bath while listening to a podcast made me feel exceptionally better than a bottle of wine ever could. I learned that taking time away from screens and doing something like learning to play my ukulele, writing, reading, or taking pictures made me feel so much better about myself than drowning my low self-esteem in a glass of cabernet.
Along with tracking my self-care, I make sure and write down one thing that I am grateful for each day and I give myself a little self-loving praise. This has helped me focus on the good in my life and the good in myself which I have a particularly difficult time doing.
Related: The Busy Person's Guide to Self-Care
When I make the choice to practice self-care to soothe my anxiety and depression instead of turning to alcohol I am able to better myself in several ways. I am better able to process what is triggering me, discover healthy activities that make me feel better, keep my body and soul healthy, and learn new skills and hobbies. This transition has been difficult at times but every time I actually make a healthy decision to not self soothe with alcohol, I feel tremendously better about myself and it makes it increasingly easier to make a healthy choice.
I do indulge in a glass of wine or micro-brew occasionally but am much better at practicing self-control and not using alcohol to cope with my emotions. I hope that my approach on practicing self-care can help inspire you to think of at least one practice to implement into your daily routine. I am sure that just implementing one act of self-care will spark the desire to include more into your daily or weekly schedules.