Aside from the child life world from a student’s perspective, the other half of my blog is dedicated to ‘staying sane during your twenties’, although I haven’t dedicated much time into telling you all about this yet. SO, my first post about how I manage to stay sane is about self-care…. which, not surprisingly, also relates to child life but can be applicable to any person (student or non-student) on any career path.
Since starting my child life Bachelor’s program, I’ve heard in almost every single one of my classes that self-care is so important. It makes sense. No matter how much we love what we do, going to work every day and spending time with hospitalized children can take a serious toll on someone’s mental and emotional capacities. These children are facing situations most of us have never had to personally take on, families are experiencing losses most people can’t fathom enduring, and we are the professionals that have the opportunity to help them through these processes.
A blessing? Absolutely. But it’s so important that we take care of our own bodies and minds so that we are able to help these families and children to the best of our abilities.
During a phone interview for a practicum recently, I was asked about self-care and how I practice it. That question sparked my thought processes for this post. I’m 25 years old, going into a helping profession… how do I take care of myself?
To start – like I said, I’m 25 years old. TWENTY-FIVE. Not exactly sure when or how that happened, but here I am. I was always active growing up, I’ve played almost every sport you can at one point or another in my life. I was also always stick thin. I never worried about what I ate, when I ate, or how I ate it. I didn’t have to watch my weight, ever. However, once I hit college I stopped being physically active on a regular basis. I still ate whatever I wanted and whenever I wanted. I put on a little weight, but I saw it as a good thing because I filled out a little and still felt okay about my body. However, within recent years I’ve noticed my body changing. I don’t keep weight off like I used to. I’ve gained weight in areas that I had never gained weight in previously. I want to be clear… I’m not saying I’ve ever been overweight. I’m a small-boned girl (literally… my ring size is a 3.75!) But I just felt gross. I lost motivation to exercise, and food became my comfort when school or life got the best of me. I decided it was time for me to make a change, physically, for the better. I decided to invest in myself, mind body and soul. I try to watch what I eat most of the time, I take my dog on walks every day to get out of the apartment and clear both of our minds, and I try to catch a fitness class or hit the gym whenever I’m home on the weekends.
Besides physical activity and living a healthy lifestyle, the top 5 things I do to ensure my self-care practice is optimal are as follows:
- Cuddle with my dog every night: If you’re not a dog person, I really don’t know what you do with your spare time. Totally kidding (kind of). I have a mild to moderate obsession with my puppy. He’s my best friend, and the best cuddler I’ve ever met. I’m a college student that lives alone and goes to school 3 hours away from any family or close friends, so I’ve found that having someone to come home to and keep me company has been more beneficial than anything else I could do. Although he can’t exactly talk back to me, and I don’t sit and spill all of my stresses onto him every night, he provides comic relief and helps me leave my stress from the day behind.
- Don’t stress what you can’t change: Someone said this to me recently and it really hit home. No matter what you’re doing in life, if you can’t change it – don’t stress about it.
- Work hard to change what you have the ability to change: With that being said, if you CAN change it, do your best! Doing college a second time around has really shown me that I do have what it takes to be a good student. I’ve been on the Dean’s List every semester and do well in all of my child life classes. Sure, I have studied some of the material previously while getting my psychology degree, but I just work hard. If a teacher tells me read material before class, I read the material. It’s time consuming, and sometimes boring, but it’s helping me in the long run. Self-pity and complaining won’t get you anywhere, bottom line.
- Wake up every day with a clean slate and positive mind: If I go to bed worrying about something, I make sure that when I wake up the next day I get a fresh start. I can’t exactly say that I leave “school work at school”, because then I wouldn’t succeed in my classes. However, I don’t let my school work one day get me down the next day. I’m a huge believer in silver linings. Everything happens for a reason, and everything you think is a bad outcome is simply a lesson to be learned from. Just. Be. Happy.
- Surround yourself with incredible people: I’ve had so many people come and go in my life, for one reason or another. I’ve learned to let go of the ones who didn’t want to stay. Friendship is SO important. My best friend lives 4 hours away from me and we see each other about twice a year. But, she’s the most loyal person I know and always has my back. No matter what, I know that I can count on her. I also have a small group of really close friends from high school that I’m lucky enough to see pretty often. We’ve been friends for 10 years and I would be lost without them. They’ve seen me through so many difficult times, and there’s even been periods when we’ve gone without seeing each other or talking to one another for quite a while, but I feel closer to them now than I ever have before. I know that I can turn to any of my family members at any time of day for any reason and they will be there for me. These are the kinds of people you need in your life.