The Seasonal Self-Care Survival Guide: Digital Workbook was specially created for the Fall + Winter seasons. Anaston J. Scott, J.D. wanted to create a resource for those who might be experiencing seasonal mood changes; however, this digital workbook will help anyone who wants to focus attention on their self-care practice. Your electronic PDF will be emailed to you within twenty four (24) hours of purchase.
Seasonal mood changes are definitely a “thing”, beloved. This digital workbook will help you navigate those changes + implement activities into your self-care practice that will leave you feeling well taken care of.
Anaston walks you through the steps you need to take to adequately take care of yourself this season. This digital workbook includes 30+ pages of helpful insight, therapeutic writing exercises and activities that will help you make self-care your lifestyle.
So it’s almost the end of 2019, & we are still riding the self-care wave. When I first started writing about self-care back in 2016, I was hoping taking care of yourSELF would become more than just a trend–deep down, I wanted to start a movement. I wanted to inspire others to end self-neglect and start taking care of their “Star Player.”
I’m not sure where we have landed, but I feel like an update on my self-care sentiments is necessary.
Before we start to dig deep though, let’s clear one thing up—self-care is anything that you do to take care of yourSELF. It is that simple, beloved. Whatever refuels you, makes you feel good, tends to your needs, is self-care. Self-care is, quite simply, what you make it.
With that being said, it is also important to note that self-care is not always going to look the same. Think of self-care as a journey and not a specific destination. On Monday you might need one thing, and by the end of the week you might need something else. That is okay. The only “finish line” is to maintain a healthy self-care routine–you should always be well taken care of.
I have an issue with posts that tell people that self-care is not “this” or “that”, when whatever aforementioned activity actually could be self-care for that person, at that time.
For example, I always see quotes, memes, etc. on social media that say “self-care is not bubble baths, massages, shopping trips…” Who came up with that rule? Why are bubble baths not self-care? You mean to tell me a massage is not taking care of myself? A shopping trip cannot make me feel better? Eh, I have to disagree with that one.
I recently became a homeowner and have spent the last few weeks moving items from my apartment to my new home. Eek! Outside of the mental stress I experienced during the home buying process, my body has been under a lot of physical stress from the move. I have been lifting heavy objects, organizing, spending a lot of time sitting down or on my feet, etc. My body is tired. Since I am in a brand new home, where no one has ever been in the bathtubs, I decided that I would take a bubble bath for the first time in years. Here’s what that bubble bath taught me:
Bubble baths are, in fact, self-care.
1. There are mental + physical benefits of taking a bubble bath.
Bubble baths are a great way to relax. Studies show that bubble baths promote muscle relaxation, release tension, and increase blood flow. This relaxation combined with the warm water is a recipe for a great night’s sleep. Because our bodies decrease in temperature while we sleep, a warm bath helps increase that drop in temperature. This helps produce melatonin and should make resting a lot easier. Speaking of warm water, bubble baths can make you sweat. If you need a detox, why not use your body’s own natural process? If you soak in hot enough water, your body will begin to sweat, which happens to be great for your lymphatic system. Bubble baths produce serotonin, which is the brain chemical associated with happiness. A nice soak allows your brain to decompress and relax after a long, thought-filled day.
If you’re looking for more information on the health benefits a bubble bath can provide, check out this article I read from Shape here.
2. You only get one body + eventually she will get tired.
I did not realize how depleted I was until I laid back in that bathtub. My body was aching and I had little to no energy. All I could do was just sit there. When I first started the moving process, I thought I was Super Woman. I was lifting + carrying some of the heaviest items, making multiple trips up and down the hallway and stairs (multiple flights of stairs, and multiple trips thanks to the crappy elevator at the apartment complex where I lived. That is another story for a different day though), and sleeping on an air mattress (I wanted to move all of the small things first and then had to wait two weeks to move my bed, thanks to that same crappy elevator). Eventually, all of this caught up to my body. My back was hurting, my legs + arms were sore, and I was exhausted. In hind sight, I should have taken more time to rest. I should have soaked in the bathtub more and allowed my body to recuperate after putting so much pressure on it. I am happy that I was able to physically do all that I did though, my body really made me proud.
3. Just breathe.
While taking the first bubble bath in my new bathtub, I almost passed out…I am being a bit dramatic, but the water was literally so hot that I could not breathe. I had to get out of the tub and grab my water bottle just to be able to enjoy the bubble bath.
If I could count how many melt downs and crying spells I had during the home buying + moving process, I would not have enough fingers to count on. This was an extremely emotional, stressful, nerve-wrecking process. There were so many moments where I felt defeated, was angry, and wanted to give up. I literally had to tell myself to breathe just to move through whatever challenge I was facing. This experience served as a lesson that I just need to breathe + trust God. It all works out in the end.
Still think bubble baths are not self-care? Then don’t take my word for it, try it for yourSELF. My bubble bath recipe includes my favorite bubble bath soap/body wash + epsom salt + a candle lit bathroom + a glass of water + some meditative music. Combine all of that and you will have the ultimate self-care practice.
What is your favorite self-care practice? I challenge you to spend some time doing that today. Think about whatever makes you feel the best, and do it. Simple as that.
“If you’re committed to being your best self, being in tune with your body, your mind, & your spirit, then it’s time you start your own self-care journey.” x Anaston Jeni
I have been working on a self-care activity for my coaching clients called “the emotional suitcase.” I was first introduced to this concept by Alex Elle and decided to adapt it not only for my clients, but also for myself.
If you were unaware, I am here to tell you: life can be challenging. As we journey through our own personal experiences, trauma and emotions tend to follow. We start to carry “things” around with us that shape who we are, how we feel, and how we navigate being. These emotions get stuffed into our emotional suitcase and start to take up room. Unless we intentionally unpack and evaluate what we are carrying around, we end up not having room for other emotions that we may need to carry. Before you know it, your suitcase is full. Maybe you have added another suitcase, and another suitcase, and now you are carrying around all this “stuff.”
Think of this concept like this–when you travel, you pack items according to where you are going and maybe who you are going with. When you return from your trip, you unpack so your suitcase is ready for the next adventure. So why not unpack emotions the same way? In order to live life as the best version of yourself, you have to consistently unpack & pack the suitcase.
While working on this activity and reflecting on my own suitcase, I realized that sometimes other people try to pack my suitcase for me. This is not healthy, by the way. If you let someone else pack for you before you go on a trip, is it not likely that they will forget something you need or pack the wrong items altogether?
In life, when other people try to pack your suitcase for you this often looks like someone trying to influence how you feel. They may try to explicitly tell you how you should feel or express how they feel so much that now their energy has spilled over into yours.
For example, there may be a shared experience that I am not stressed or worried about, but after talking to a person about the same experience, I am now stressed and worried just because they are. They have now packed an emotion in my suitcase, and I am stuck carrying it.
Moment of transparency: I have opened my emotional suitcase and am looking at all the emotions I have been carrying around. The biggest, and heaviest, is resentment. Resentment is defined as “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.” Now, do not get me wrong, I am not a bitter person; however, I do recognize that there are some bitter feelings regarding some of the relationships in my life. This prevents me from moving forward with people at times, despite having worked through whatever issues we had previously faced. It also makes it hard for me to see them in a different light, because I am reminded of how I was treated. I recognize that I need to work on this, though, because I do not want anyone harboring resentment against me. But more importantly, I do not want to be bitter in any form or fashion.
Not every emotion in your suitcase has to be negative. There are positive emotions that can be packed, and it is imperative that you make room for these as well. That is why the consistent unpacking process is so valuable. Once you unpack everything you need to be able to pack emotions that will better serve you.
Personally, peace is an example of a positive emotion that has been tucked away in my suitcase. I say tucked away because it is not something that I have always packed and it took me time to recognize that it was even there. Even though I still experience anxiety and stress, it is a lot easier for me to have peace because I am making an effort to remain calm. Things always work out according to God’s plan in the end, so it does help the journey if I am not as worried or fearful.
What is in your emotional suitcase? Stress, anxiety, grief, or anger may be taking up space. You might be surprised and find love, joy, and understanding in there too. If this concept is new to you, it is time to do some work. Set some time in your schedule so that you can truly pay attention to this activity. You owe it to yourself. Life will always have ups and downs, but if you pack what you need, you will always be prepared for the ride.
“Bag lady, you gon’ hurt your back, dragging all them bags like that…One day, all them bags gon’ get in your way.” x Erykah Badu
“So you know how on one of your Sister Talks Podcast episodes you said ‘I’m the girl before the marriage’ or whatever? It was in reference to all of your exes getting serious with the next person they found. Well, that is not necessarily a bad thing, sis. That means that you know how to help coach a boy to be a man. But the day will come that you will meet a man that does not need to be coached–I am talking about a man that is already everything you need because God has made him just for you. Do not get discouraged because all things work for the good of those who love the Lord, and sometimes God has to take a little more time on the blessings that are for the believers with favor.”
On an episode of the podcast I formerly co-hosted with my best friend/sister Alexandria, we discussed everything related to relationships. If you are interested in listening to that episode, it is still available for your listening pleasure here. In that episode, we each gave an account of what our dating life was like in the past, and I titled mine “The Girl Before the Girlfriend” or “The One That Got Away”. We recorded this episode at the beginning of 2018, and I honestly had to go back and listen to it again to see what my narrative was then in order to compare it to what it is now.
So what is the “girl before the girlfriend”, exactly? It is literally what it sounds like. Majority of my dating experience has been encounters with men who claimed they were not interested in or ready for a relationship, but shortly after our “situation” concluded (and sometimes during) they ended up in a relationship. Even as far back as high school I have literally been building men for other women. That is not a task I wanted to take on nor is it my responsibility, but it is the role I have allowed myself to play.
I have attracted males who were right on the brink of their next phase of life, males who were broken, and males who were not yet whole. Essentially, males who were lost. I opened myself and my heart and put forth my best effort to add value to them in whatever way was needed at the time. I journeyed with them from “not ready” to “ready”, but unfortunately for me this resulted in someone else reaping the benefits of my effort. They were ready, but not with me. It caused me to believe that there was something wrong with me and that I had to be doing something wrong.
So you must be wondering if this happened to me again? Surprise! Yes beloved, it did. The storyline of what happened is far less important than the lessons I learned this time, so we will focus on that and leave the rest where it is at. So the quote at the beginning of this post came in the version of a text message from my sorority sister and dear friend Shaquila. It came shortly after the situation referred to above, and it was right on time. It honestly gave me the courage to get back out into the dating world and try again.
Moment of transparency: I will admit that this situation shook me to the core. I have had my heart broken twice before, and I definitely coin this as the third. A part of me still cannot believe that here I am, again, singing the same sad song. I have questioned my self-worth over and over again, trying to figure out what is wrong with me. Am I crazy? Am I not attractive? What am I lacking? What do these other women have that I do not? It has taken a lot of emotional work to get back to a healthy, whole place. The journey is not easy, but I owe it to myself to do the work.
The biggest lesson I have learned as a result of this last experience is acceptance. I was faced with two options: either accept what type of lover I am or change who I am. I decided to go with acceptance and this has helped me tremendously. I recognize what role I have played in each relationship. I have an “all-in” approach when it comes to my relationships with other people, and I exhaust every option before I walk away. This is just who I am, and I believe this quality will make me a great partner to someone one day. I have also accepted that this approach can cause me to get hurt. Recognizing this allows me to focus my energy on how to either lessen that hurt or find ways to work through and process it better.
Next lesson: I have let go of all the rules. Society is great at telling you what a relationship should be, look, and feel like. Instagram is full of relationship experts, and you can find at least three love gurus on Twitter. Even celebrity couples will have you creating ideas and idolizing their love stories. I am no longer interested in all of that. When I am blessed with a relationship my partner and I will do whatever works for us. Focusing on what “they” say is stressful and can cause you to miss out on your blessing or deal with things that are less than you deserve.
In closing, I have learned what I want in a partner. I mean, I really know. In the past I have always had a great idea about what I was looking for, I have prayed for the type of man I want, etc. But now there is a certain conviction in my spirit and I know for sure. Refer to 1 Corinthians 13. Read the whole chapter, but verse 4 tells you what love is. I want someone who embodies all of those things. If I cannot read your name in place of the word “love” in those verses, you are not the person for me. It took me a long time to truly figure this out. In the past my therapist asked me what I want in a partner, and I could only tell her what I knew I did not want. I could never exactly verbalize anything positive. I think I was making it more complicated than I needed to. Now it is pretty simple.
Moment of transparency: One of the lowest moments in my dating life was allowing someone to stand in front of me and tell me how they did not want me. Repeatedly. And instead of walking away, I stayed and begged this person to see me. To give me a chance. To love me. I have never felt more vulnerable or small than I did in those moments. I wish I would have recognized then that the person was not my 1 Corinthians 13 and that the conversation was full of everything but love.
So here I am, still “The Girl Before the Girlfriend”, but I know this is not the life God has for me. Like Shaquila said, God has a man created just for me. A man who will see my worth from the very beginning. A man that I may have to teach a few things, but he will be a man on his own. A man that will feel like home. Love was my word for 2017 and is my word for 2018, so I am not giving up.
What is your love story? Take some time to reflect on your relationships. Focus on what they have taught you and how they have made you better. Look at how far you’ve come, regardless of your relationship status. If you are one of those people who feel like they are not “ready” for a relationship, consider this concept I talk about in the podcast episode.
In Wale’s “The Matrimony” featuring Usher, the song starts out with a dialogue about how regardless of the plans you make, you cannot truly be “ready” for marriage because it requires you to grow. As with any growth, you cannot be ready for it, because it is new. You change and become someone new. Marriage is a stage of a relationship right? Right. So the same logic applies, beloved. The right relationships will cause you to grow, whether you think you are ready or not. You cannot say “wait God, no no. I am not ready to grow.” It just happens. You can spend your whole life planning, but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and go for it. Leave the excuses behind, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.
Disclaimer: Do not get into a relationship if you have no intention of doing right by the other person. I do believe there is a necessary mental state to be in before you start dating, so please don’t “be” out here playing games. You know if you are in the right frame of mind to engage with other people. My advice is to those who think they have to have “x, y, and z” in order before they can be open to dating.
“How lit would it be to have someone to do life with?” x Anaston Jeni
the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc.
the spurning of a person’s affections
So let’s be honest, as much as people like to say that they accept rejection in stride, no one really likes being rejected. Personally, I have been feeling like rejection has been walking with me attached to my hip for the last few months. There are jobs I have applied for that I did not get—many, many jobs. I’ve been spurned by people, both romantically and platonic, so lately I have been trying to figure out what I am doing wrong or if there is something wrong with me.
It is easy to focus on the negative when you start to reflect on the “no”s you might be receiving; it can be quite discouraging and even overwhelming. It is likely your ego is bruised and you are trying to pick up pieces of your face after having so many doors slammed in it…but Beloved, during these times you have to ask yourself which outweighs the other—the rejections or the blessings? Most likely there are only a few instances where you have been rejected—and even then, if you look closely enough, I am sure God has blessed you with something greater.
So how do I deal with rejection?
Honestly, I am still working on this. I have been incorporating a lot of positive self-talk in those moments where I start to question myself or the things I am doing. I try to focus on how I feel about myself, not how other people feel about me, so that my sense of self-value remains in tact. I also encourage myself to find the blessings in my life and thank God for those gifts. Creating a spirit of gratitude often softens the blow of disappointment and allows me to shift my way of thinking.
I try to combat feelings of regret. There are very few things that I regret in life—I put forth a lot of effort to be okay with all of the decisions I make regardless of the outcome. This process involves looking at situations as a learning experience and using them for further self-discovery and self-mastery. I ask myself what each situation is teaching me, even if the lesson hurts a bit. Growth is not always easy, but it is always necessary.
How do you deal with rejection? Responses to this particular journal question ranged from looking at rejection as “it is their loss, and at least I tried”; to “remembering that rejection does not determine my value. I am still important, and I am still loved”; “you cannot get everything you want, sometimes things will not go your way”; and “the right job, person, situation, etc. is right around the corner”. There is not one set way to dealing with rejection—we all process things differently. Find a healthy coping mechanism for you and be sure to put it into action the next time a “no” comes to visit.
Rejection is the sand in the oyster, the irritant that ultimately produces the pearl. x Burke Wilkinson