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Avoid Caregiver Burnout Series: 15 Self-Care Tools I Use Between Travel Breaks

Hey you! How have you been doing?

Lately, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by my current schedule.  Changing jobs, starting a new travel and wellness blog, getting back on track with my fitness and health...  it's a lot.

For the first time, I'm mindfully seeking to create a balanced lifestyle while pursuing these goals.

Many times in my adulthood I have said that I ain't no Chaka Khan. I'm not every woman and it's not all in me, LOL!

I was absolutely good with doing one or two things really well.  Usually, when I'm focused on those 1 or 2 goals, I am all-consumed by them.

Prime example - nursing school.

I created an environment where completing school was the only option.  I quit my job, took out student loans and said goodbye to my social life for 2 1/2 years.

Nothing else existed.  I ate, drank and slept all things nursing.  While there were some Hail Mary attempts to fit in exercise, it was always short lived.

So, in addition to earning my Bachelor's of Nursing degree, I also gained 20 pounds and several bald spots from the stress and anxiety of healthcare academia.

turned on MacBook in between eyeglasses and stethoscope
Photo by rawpixel / Unsplash

 

Second example - my first full marathon at age 40.

Inspired by Oprah Winfrey completing the Marine Corps Marathon, I took my goal a step further.

My crazy behind decided to sign up for the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World!

For those of you that don't know, the Goofy Challenge consists of a half marathon (13.1 miles or 21.1K) on Saturday and a full marathon (26.2 miles or 42 K) on Sunday.

What can I say?  I was seduced by the bling of 3 golden, gorgeous Disney medals!

Marathon training was my obsession for 6 months.  During that time, I mainly kept in contact with people that trained with me.  Otherwise, I was incognegro!

Despite my madness, I managed to cross both finish lines!

 

While I didn't gain weight or lose hair from the experience, my interactions with non-running family and friends suffered tremendously.

With this past history in mind, I want to do things differently this time.

Seeking the balance of working on 2 jobs, being there for family and prioritizing my own self-care is challenging.

Even more so for a woman that prided herself on NOT being every woman.

There are times when this woman struggles with her own thoughts.  Moments when doubt and second-guessing rear their ugly heads.  That "what the hell am I doing" mentality will have me down every now and then.

In those moments, I have to really put my self-care practices into place and remember my Why.

So when I advocate for caregivers to take care of themselves, I'm also advocating for myself to do the same.  

It’s essential for me to practice what I preach. While I love my travel breaks, I can't hop on a plane every time life gets stressful.

Sometimes I gotta just stay still, feel my feelings and self-soothe in my everyday life.

Between travel breaks, there are 15 self-care tools in my “emotional toolbox” I use to be kind to myself:

#1 - Challenge my distortions on a daily basis

Photo by Dasha Yukhymyuk / Unsplash

 

Negatively focusing on unaccomplished tasks can discolor my views on the overall progress of a goal.

Frequently, I remind myself to take a step back to objectively visualize all aspects of the situation.  I kinetically aspire to consider perceived negative situations as an opportunity for growth.

Yeah, this can be a tough theory to put into practice.  However, if I want to create the life that I want, it’s a necessity to be open to new ways of thinking.

#2 - Take a break from one-sided friendships

This is a big one for me!  In my personal life, reciprocal relationships are crucial for a balanced lifestyle.

Over the years, I have realized that if I don’t reserve some of my empathetic energy for myself, it can be leached away by self-absorbed individuals.

If I’m not receiving mutual support in consistently draining friendships, then it’s my responsibility to let go and love ‘em from a distance.

#3 - Talk to like-minded friends

There is nothing like talking to a person that gets you and your issues.

Some friends are better to talk about certain things than others.  I discern the difference and choose accordingly.

#4 - Meditate regularly

woman doing yoga meditation on brown parquet flooring
Photo by Jared Rice / Unsplash

 

I know, I know! You've heard about the many benefits of meditation and I'm here to tell you - they are all true!

Meditation helps me when I’m frustrated, anxious or confused about what to do.  It also aids in intensifying good feelings and gratitude in my everyday life.

I either meditate on my own or use Insight Timer for guided meditations. With this app, I can choose from a diverse range of meditation themes and time lengths for each session.

On really stressful days, I may even do 2 or 3 sessions to achieve some zen-ful minutes of peace.

#5 - Scent your space

I love using scented candles and incense to change or enhance my mood! Bath and Bodyworks are my current candles of choice.  They are super fragrant and always on sale!

Recently, I bought a variety pack of incense that is mesmerizingly good! With 12 different options, I select a scent based on what I want to achieve with my meditation, yoga practice or writing.

tealight candles burning
Photo by Animesh Basnet / Unsplash

 

#6 - Listen to music

My music collection is the soundtrack of my life!  It can invoke feel-good emotions with the beginning of a note.

My Eric Benét playlist has gotten me through many a stressful day at work.  The right tune can also heighten any meditation or workout.

#7 - Take a bath

 

So often, I rush through showers to get to work or a meeting.  At least once a week, this practice helps me slow down my mind and soak achy muscles after physical activities.

Ingredients for the perfect bath include Epsom salts, bubble bath, music, and candles.  Yes, I completely romance myself!

It's the one place where I can truly get some alone time.

#8 - Make a warm drink

Warm drinks really get me in the mood to write or relax.  Earl Grey tea has just enough caffeine to stimulate my creativity without having me wired all day.

A cup of creamy cocoa with extra mini marshmallows or spiced apple cider infuses comforting coziness prior to bedtime.

#9 - Allow time for cinema therapy

woman lying on bed while eating puff corn
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM / Unsplash

 

Cinema therapy helps to change my frequency and put me in better spirits.

After a long day or busy week, it's great to just curl up under the covers and indulge in a Netflix marathon or binge watch my favorite reality show, RuPaul's Drag Race!

#10 - Play audio-books

Listening to audio-books on my way to work gets my mind right with education and inspiration.

I purchased my first audio-book as a last-ditch effort to finish Jen Sincero’s, “You Are A Bad Ass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” and haven’t looked back since!

#11 - Create a schedule

Still a work in progress, but creating and sticking to a weekly schedule helps me prioritize both work goals and self-care practices.

There are days when things don't go as planned, but I'm working towards not being overly critical of myself.  Instead, I make adjustments and figure which times of day work better for certain tasks.

#12 - Exercise several times a week

I'm always a nicer person when I workout on a regular basis, LOL! Exercise is a great stress reliever, confidence booster, and natural sleep aid.

 

Currently, I aim for a least 3 workouts a week: yoga, strength training, and cardio.  Eventually, I will incorporate interval running back into my life.

 

#13 - Schedule a massage

As a person that adores a good rub down, frequent massages are a major part of my self-care.  As muscle tensions are released, stress and emotional discomfort dissipate away.

If I can’t afford a professional, I exchange massage services with a loved one or good friend.

#14 - Receive acupuncture treatments

One of my good friends swore by acupuncture treatments and it has been a great addition to my self-care.

During each session, my acupuncturist will talk with me for 20 - 30 minutes to assess and tailor the treatment to my needs.  

It’s more like a mini therapy session for me and she calls me on my shit provides insight on my issues.

#15 - Plan my next travel break

 

What would this post be without a friendly reminder of planning self-care through travel!  Counting down the days to my next trip is a great stress reliever.

Looking for travel deals is just another form of self-love nowadays. Either by stay-cation or vacation, I find ways to save my pennies and make my travel breaks happen!

Combining self-care practices

Many of these tools can be used interchangeably.  You can add 1 or 2 of these practices to your current routine for daily care.

Be extra loving to yourself and plan at least 1 pamper day or self-care weekend each month.

If the rhythm of Chaka Khan's anthem resonates regularly in your routine, create time to relax, relate and release to help avoid caregiver burnout!