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By Maddie Lukens, MA

I googled the definition of self-care & the top hit was: “actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health.” I really like this definition because it is inclusive – we aren’t just considering our  physical health here, but our emotional, mental, and spiritual health as well.  When we practice self-care all aspects of our humanity need to be cared for.  We’re first going to talk about what it may feel/look like when we aren’t caring for ourselves well.

What Happens When We Aren’t Practicing Self-Care?

  • Burnout.  Burnout is the term used to describe our disrupted ability to engage in and enjoy our work.  Most often burnout is caused by high work demands, too little time to do all the things, and too little rest.  Burnout can be avoided by implementing & practicing healthy boundaries in and around our workplace (i.e. saying “no”).
  • Irritability/frustration.  When we aren’t practicing good self-care, anything and everything seems to get on our nerves.  Perhaps your kids, significant other, or roommate says the wrong thing at the wrong time and you recognize that you feel instantly aggravated after they speak – this is not a normal response and could indicate that some changes need to be made.
  • Changes in sleep or appetite.  When we aren’t feeling our best (unmotivated or sluggish), usually we notice changes in our appetite – maybe you eat more because you feel more tired. The message sent to your body is “I need more sustenance.”  You may eat less because you realize you don’t have time to stop and eat.  You may notice changes in your sleep: either having disrupted sleep, or waking up feeling unrested – like you can’t wait to hit the pillow again tonight!  

Ultimately you know your body and your mind best, most often you know what you need, it’s just finding the gumption to make it happen.  I’ll share a few tips below:

7 Tips to Better Practice Self-Care:

  1. Learn how to say no.  Saying no is important.  It establishes boundaries and sets limits – helps us set expectations so we as individuals and those around us know what to expect.  I remind myself often that I say “no” to something so I can say “yes” – and fully mean it – to something else.
  2. Do something every day that is only for you.  One of the biggest fallacies when it comes to self-care is that it is selfish.  This is so far from the truth.  If we are not healthy ourselves, we cannot show up for others, perform at our jobs, or experience success in our relationships.
  3. Get plenty of rest.  Every person is different, and this includes how much sleep you need each night.  On average adults need 7-9 hours, but this can vary.  Getting adequate rest ensures that we are showing up as our best selves each and every day.
  4. Eat what your body needs.  Each and every person needs vital nutrients including minerals, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.  Additionally, people may have specific needs like food allergies or food sensitivities, or they may be more sensitive to excess sugar or caffeine.  I always encourage people to find a balance within it all & to listen to their body.
  5. Reward yourself for doing hard things.  I’m a BIG fan of rewarding ourselves when we do something challenging.  Making changes is hard, setting boundaries is hard, telling your significant other what you need, is hard.  All of these examples are worth celebrating – get your favorite coffee drink or plan that day trip you’ve been wanting to take – all in honor of YOU. 
  6. Exercise in a way that honors your body.  Each of us has injuries or limitations, and pushing ourselves beyond what we know our bodies can handle can lead to discouragement or even injury.  If you hate running – don’t force yourself to go – find an alternative exercise or movement activity to engage in.
  7. Practice gratitude.  Making a quick list, daily, of the things we’re thankful for can do wonders to shift our perspective – give it a try!

Self-care should be fun & enjoyable – so if the tasks you’re choosing feel like a chore, it’s not self-care. 🙂 

Here are a 8 of my favorite places to engage in Self-Care in Colorado Springs: 

1. One of the most beautiful and breath-taking places is Garden of the Gods! There are easy hiking trails all around, history to read about, open skies, and red rocks galore.  

2. Manitou Springs is a quaint city right off the interstate – it is full of local shops to stroll through and fun restaurants to eat in.

3. Old Colorado City is the “old town” of Colorado Springs.  It has local coffee & chocolate shops, in addition to a few vintage game stores worth checking out.  Seems like there is always something new popping up along Colorado ave.

4. You can drive to Denver for the day.  Since Denver is somewhat centrally located, it can make for a great day trip.  Hanging out at Wash Park or exploring downtown are great, restful ways to care for yourself or spend quality time with loved ones!

5. Take a trip to Jives coffee shop – located in Old Colorado City.  This quaint coffee shop often has live music and the owners are from Eastern Europe, so they have a fun take on many of your classic coffee faves.

6. Discover something new to you at Poor Richard’s used book store.  This used/new book store is massive, there is a cafe, toy store and retail shop all connected via a strip center in downtown Colorado Springs.  I love pursuing the aisles on a rainy day.

7. Commit to the drive to the top of Pikes Peak – you have to pay per person, but the view and drive is unbelievable. You might even see wildlife on the drive up – like big horned rams!

8. All over the beautiful state of Colorado you can find incredible hikes. Crag’s Trail is a moderate trail weaved into th same mountain range where you will find Pikes Peak – I did this hike last fall with some friends and it was unbelievable!

If you live in the Colorado Springs area and are looking for counseling for young adults, PTSD counseling, or online counseling – Lime Tree Counseling is here to help!  Feel free to reach out to our office today and schedule a free consultation to see if one of our counselors is the right fit for you.