Cape Off: Self-care as a remedy for the Superwoman Syndrome

“Self care is how you take your power back.”

Superwoman syndrome

Last year, I experienced extreme burnout. I gave until I couldn’t give anymore trying to be “everything for everybody.” I did it all: worked full and part-time as a nurse practitioner, managed a blog, worked towards a healthier lifestyle, served in my church and community, had somewhat of a social life, traveled, kept in touch with family back home… the list goes on! Notice, I didn’t include myself in that equation because that literally was my reality. I spent so much time pouring out that I never poured back into myself. This left me weak, depleted, and empty in so many ways. I learned that this was called superwoman syndrome–wanting to do it all and play multiple roles perfectly but underneath it all suffering anxiety, exhaustion and burnout.

Taking my power back

At some point, I felt like hustling was the way to success, I cared more about how others perceived me, and I was extremely hard on myself by striving to be “perfect” in every way. I had tricked myself into thinking that I had to show others how hard I was working at all times rather than take time to rest, revive and restore. Now, I realize that self care is the remedy to this superwoman mentality. I don’t have to be everything for everybody. And, it is unfair for me to be so hard on myself.  I can be “super” without having to be superwoman and give myself grace without the fear of appearing weak. Self care is how I take my power back!

Cape off

In lieu of International Women’s Month,  I’m here to remind you it’s time to take care of yourself! Take the cape off, sis. When is the last time you took the time to check in with yourself? What do I want? What do I need? How could I spark more joy in my life? We spend so much of our time tending to the needs of others that we often put ourselves on the back burner. Yes, we are doing a good deed by serving others, but not at the cost of sacrificing ourselves. Putting our personal needs on the back burner can be detrimental to our mental, physical, and emotional health in the long run.

An ode to self care

No, self care is not always bath bombs, facials, massages and candles. While those things are great and necessary at times, we must realize that self-care is a daily practice of reclaiming your own time. Sometimes, it’s doing the inner work, forcing stillness in our routines and putting an end to toxic behaviors. It’s taking care of ourselves and making decisions that are in our best interest daily. Here are 10 ways to take the cape off and take care of yourself:

1. Meditate

Take at least 10-20 min per day to practice mindfulness. You can practice this by sitting still, removing all distractions, and becoming one with yourself in silence or with guided meditation music (here). Inhale/Exhale. Count to ten. Eliminate all thoughts in your mind. This practice not only helps you get in touch with yourself and your inner emotions, but it also relieves stress and anxiety significantly.

2. Express gratitude

Writing down things you’re grateful for helps you to focus on the positive things that are happening in your life. The more things you’re grateful for, the more things will come to be grateful for.

3. Schedule a “me” day

When is the last time you became present with life? With yourself? Taking time to rejuvenate is a key factor in the process of plotting our “next move” and making it our “best move.” Every energy source needs a period of time to rest and recharge…including you! Take yourself out to dinner, to the movies, or even try a new hobby!

4. Say “no”

We have to learn to say no to things that we don’t want to do, don’t have time to do, or are unable to commit to doing. How many times do we inconvenience ourselves for others by saying yes to things we really don’t want to do? Let’s start saying “no” to any requests to your time, energy and efforts that don’t align with your wants or needs. It is okay to be selfish to preserve your sanity. People pleasing can become a toxic trait if we don’t learn this concept. 

5. Exercise

Exercising has so many benefits! It helps us feel better by increasing your mood, improving your physique, increasing your energy, promoting better sleep, and reducing stress. Exercising at least 30 min at least 3x/week can make a difference in your physical and mental health. 

6. Wake up earlier

This allows you to incorporate a morning routine. Your morning routine may include reading, journaling, planning your day, praying, meditating, or completing your daily devotional. How you start your day is critical because it sets the tone for the rest of your day. Starting early with a morning routine allows more time and clarity.

7. Protect your peace

Get rid of anything that interrupts your energy, including toxic relationships and toxic behaviors.  You have to protect your peace at all costs. Don’t hesitate to cut of any and every source of negativity including people, places, things, music, social media accounts, or habits. Keep your spirit positive and full of joy.

8. Give yourself the love you’re extending to others

Practicing self-love starts from the inside out. How you speak to yourself matters more than you know. Look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I love you. You are so beautiful.” Every day, make the conscious decision to love on yourself, flaws and all, and appreciate your own beauty. You must not rely on others to be the first people to do this for you.  

Remember, you are only one person and it is unrealistic to believe that you can do it all and be everything for everyone. Don’t delay and put it off until you complete everything on your to-do list. Oh, it can wait! Trust me. Sometimes it takes more courage to stop than to keep going. Yes, you may feel like you could be “getting more stuff done” or “helping others” but don’t let it be your downfall. If you want to have a big impact without compromising your health and well-being, be kind to yourself. That mindset shift alone will help you soar even higher. You are enough. How do you plan to take care of yourself this week?

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Disconnect to Reconnect: What I learned during my social media hiatus


“I feel like I’m constantly worrying about the next part of my life without realizing that I’m right in the middle of what I used to look forward to.”

The Wake-Up Call

If you recall from one of my very first blog posts, I knew that 2018 would be different–and it was! 2018 was simply an amazing year. I can honestly say that I seized every opportunity that came my way and attempted to maximize my potential in every area of my life. I accomplished (or at least attempted to) almost every goal I set for the year. However, I realized that I never had a chance to celebrate myself and express sincere gratitude to God for all He had done. I never actually took time to let it all sink in. And finally, I didn’t consider my needs and wants. I was definitely grateful and happy, but I would immediately start planning for the next way to progress. I realized that sometimes we have a tendency to place so much pressure on ourselves to be who we envision we should be, instead of acknowledging and celebrating the fact that we are evolving.

Hat: Amazon | Jacket: Ross Stores | Shorts: Forever 21 | Boots: Ego

The Hiatus

That wake-up call prompted me to take a 21-day hiatus from all forms of social media. I knew it was time to unplug from the distractions, express gratitude, and be more present in the moment. Social media was a major distraction for me, so I knew that eliminating it would free up much of my time. I was so “plugged in” that I was draining myself. I found myself pouring into others before I would even pour into myself. I was burned out and depleted and we all know that you cannot pour from an empty cup.

The Lesson

My 3 week hiatus taught me a lot! I completely shut everything down and took time to look within. I received so much clarity, developed a new outlook on life and even developed a new morning mindset routine that I plan to share in a future post ☺. I dug deep and had some great reflections on this year and God revealed the following takeaways to me that I would like to share with you all:

  1. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Fill your own cup before you pour into others. 
  2. Comparison is the thief of joy. Remember, Social media is only the highlight reel. Don’t lose sight of your journey by comparing your life to the “best moments” of others.
  3. It takes more faith to stop, than to keep going. It’s easy to continue operating in dysfunction because its comfortable. Interrupting toxic patterns is a huge step because it forces you to know that the temporary discomfort will be beneficial in the end.
  4. Social media is the handshake, not the end goal. Social media is a great way to connect with others, but you have to remember to focus on what you’re building for yourself (your self-concept, business, website, brand, etc.) It’s all about balance.
  5. It is important to embody your brand—in real life. I’ll use myself for example. How can I say I am “on a living spree,” when I am not “living” in real life? We have to stay true to ourselves, our morals, and our purpose no matter what. If you notice you’re compromising brand integrity, make a change!
  6. Gratitude is the key to living a powerful life. The more you’re grateful for, the more comes for you to be grateful for. Simple.
  7. Don’t look around, look within. Don’t seek validation from others. “When your worth isn’t based on their claps, you won’t be broken by their silence.”
  8. Self-care is also reclaiming your time. Everything will work again if you unplug it, including you. Take care of YOU!
  9. Purpose over popularity will always win. Don’t get the popular circle confused with the winner’s circle. Focusing on your purpose won’t always be the “popular” thing to do, but it is always the right thing to do.
  10. The only expectations you need to live up to are your own. Never feel like you have to live up to the expectations of others. Hold fast to your own beliefs and values and follow your own moral compass.

The Evolution

Above all, this hiatus revealed to me the evolution I have made throughout the past few years and I couldn’t be more proud! It is my hope that we quiet our minds and our hearts and allow ourselves to revel in our progress and process. No, taking a social media hiatus may not be the route for everyone to completely alleviate their distractions and reach within, but it was for me. However, I promise if you do take time to slow down and express gratitude, you will experience more fulfillment than ever before.

Photography: @jp.hanney_visuals

Stylist: @thefashionchase

Setting: Downtown, Houston, Texas

As always, thanks for taking time to read my blog! Do me a favor and share this with others who may find this intriguing and helpful. Until next time, let’s go on a living spree!

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Aloha and Woosah: Unplugging to Recharge

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including YOU!” – Anne Lamott

Self Check-In

I’ve never felt this great at the beginning of a year before! The first 3 months of 2018 have been some of the most invigorating, exciting, and fulfilling times I’ve had in a while.  Normally, I start out energized and begin working on my goals for the year, but by March, the drive dwindles and I no longer have the motivation to keep the fire burning. This year has been different. I was determined to come for everything I wanted. Therefore, I set professional goals in both my full-time and part-time career jobs. I fully committed to my newest passion project and business—my blog (and all that comes with it). And last but not least, I made the most challenging and rewarding commitment to achieve my long-time personal fitness goals. I can say that I have fearlessly and faithfully taken all of these goals by storm! However, while all of this is great and wonderful—I AM EXHAUSTED! I promised myself that in everything I would choose me and that included not pushing myself beyond my limits. So, I needed a break from everything and a break is exactly what I took.

 

The Art of Doing Nothing

​            Two weeks ago, I was off work for spring break and spent 5 days in Kauai, Hawaii while attending a professional conference. Normally when I visit a new place, I am super ambitious, full of energy, and have a set itinerary of things to do while there. And of course, I take thousands of photos and videos to document my experience. I do this because I love creating memories and sharing them with others. But, this time I wanted to enjoy everything in peace. I wanted to be fully present to learn new information and network with colleagues. I wanted to disconnect from social media. I wanted to spend quality time with God and Ashley. I wanted to read, take private walks on the beach, listen to new music, and spend time with a loved one. I even left my phone in the hotel room or put on airplane mode during the day to completely dial into where I was. And to seal the deal, it rained the first two days while I was there, so I was forced to relax and “do nothing” within the confines of my hotel room. It’s funny how “doing nothing” can “do everything” for your mental health. After all, “doing nothing” is a form of self-care. Which, to my surprise it actually felt amazing! And that was the purpose of this trip—nothing more and nothing less.

Sorry, not sorry!

At first I felt guilty. The “Type A” part of me kept whispering “you don’t deserve a break—it’s just March!” But the new me knew differently. I NEEDED a break. At times, I can be very hard on myself and my own worst critic. The new me gifted myself grace, let go of imaginary expectations that others had of me, and chose to tune in with myself over the criticism of “Type A”. I left my worries, cares and responsibilities where they stood and resolved that I would deal with it all when I returned and not a moment before. I learned a lot during my trip that I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t unplug and tune into myself. I met some amazing new people from other parts of the world and had thought-provoking conversations. And last but not least, I had time to begin writing in my travel journal. Surprisingly, as much as I travel I had never done this before!

 

Life is a Marathon, not a Sprint

I say all of that to say that sometimes you need to take breaks and evaluate yourself, your needs, and your health in order to propel you in to the next chapter of your life. Every next level will require a different you.  ​It is okay to unplug and dial-in to yourself. It is okay to take a break when you need it, so that you can recharge. I felt myself and my spirit bursting at the seams from fatigue. I was trying to do it all and be everything for everyone else except Ashley. I learned to never get lost in other people’s expectations of me and to be careful not to have unrealistic expectations of myself. I learned that it is okay to have goals and dreams and to be ambitious. What’s not okay is when I don’t have balance, when I am stretching myself too thin and when I don’t listen to my mind, body and spirit when it is pleading for rest. I am so happy that I allowed myself a space of grace. To bask in the present moment, to celebrate right now and all that I achieved thus far. I truly believe that if I hadn’t intervened and took a breath, that I would have become completely drained and I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals in the end. Last but not least, I learned that self-improvement is a journey, not a destination. That life is a marathon, not a sprint!

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8 ways to make 2018 great!

“Change your thoughts and you change your world” -Norman Vincent Peale
With a new year comes a lot of optimism. And if you’re anything like me, the beginning of a new year brings the opportunity of a fresh start. Whether you’re on the “New Year, New Me” wave, or “New Year, Same Me” boat, I am sure you want to make this year the best yet! That doesn’t necessarily require large-scale changes, but rather small changes in your mindset. What I’ve learned is that if you change your mindset, your actions will follow. Your mind is literally the gateway of actions, I want to share with you some of the things I learned in 2017 that have helped me change my mindset and self-concept to set me up for success in 2018.

1. Believe in yourself

This was probably one of the simplest, yet hardest things I learned to do. As mentioned in my first post, I’ve had my share of self-doubt. Specifically, when it came down to me believing that I could become a blogger and influencer. I actually had been doing exactly what I am now for a couple of years but never believed I could officially publish the content that I was creating. It wasn’t until I began to bet on myself and my instincts that things changed. And I truly internalized one of my favorite scriptures, “I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13). Anytime there’s an “I can’t” thought, I immediately replace it with that scripture in my head. You have to believe in you, even if nobody else will!

2. Live a life of purpose

This one is so important. I felt as if I was meandering aimlessly through life until discovered my purpose. It wasn’t until last year after I had done extensive self-discovery, reading, reflection and prayer that God revealed my purpose. Life takes on a whole new meaning when you are living it with purpose. Days are not so mundane and the work you’re doing all of a sudden doesn’t feel like work, but rather service. You don’t do things to receive things in return anymore, such as money. You do them because it is your reason for being here, a duty, a calling. If you have not discovered your purpose, I encourage you to take some time this year to discover exactly what it is. If you know your purpose but haven’t begun the work, I encourage you to let go of fear and/or procrastination and get started!

3. Be content and trust the timing of your life

I am sure you’ve heard the saying, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Today’s society relies heavily on social media, which can be a blessing and a curse. As we know, social media only displays the highlight reels of people’s lives. We don’t see the behind the scenes grind, the tears, the sleepless nights, the fights or the mistakes made along the way. Because society is so inundated with what we think our lives are supposed to be, we can become discontented with where we are in our lives. For example, if you are anywhere near 30 years old and unmarried like me, I am sure you have felt the pressure of “getting married by 30” or “having kids.” While I know that God promised me these things, I also have to keep in mind that they will come at an appointed time and not on my time. In the meantime, trust that things will fall into place and happen when they are supposed to. Don’t allow other peoples “moves” or blessings make you feel that you are missing out or that they will never happen. Run your own race at your own speed and time. Trust the process. For everything, there is a season.

4. Stay grounded

Every morning, I have quiet time with God and myself. I read my devotional, I meditate and I pray before even checking my phone, email or the world. This is the first way that I stay grounded. The second way is reminding myself of my “why” and remembering that the reason I am here is more important than the challenges and difficulties I face. Life will never be without trials, what matters most is how you handle the trials. Lastly, I think about where I am from and the little ambitious girl from Birmingham, Alabama whose dreams were larger than life. I think about how she deserves a chance to see her dreams come to life and it keeps me humble and motivated.

5. Learn how to say “no”

 This one is pretty self-explanatory. How many times do we say “yes” to things we don’t want to because we are more concerned about how saying “no” will affect the other person over how the “yes” will affect us? I used to do this so much! I would feel so uncomfortable and unhappy just to make sure I didn’t disappoint other people. Not realizing that I was completing the task with resentment and without full commitment and intention. Let your no be “no” and your yes be “yes.” And remember, if the person gets upset about your “no,” that means they’ve become comfortable with abusing your “yes.”

6. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals

I am sure many of you have heard the adage “birds of a feather flock together.” This is so true ya’ll. In learning how to protect my energy, I’ve had to learn how to choose my friends wisely and to be selective about who I hang around and who I allow hanging around me. No, this doesn’t mean I am uptight or think I am better than anyone. This means that I value my energy and I will protect my purpose at all costs. If I am in a season where I am trying to move forward and believe God for the miraculous, I can’t be around pessimistic people who don’t believe in God. Or, if I am on a journey to pursue my dreams and fulfill my purpose, I cant hang around people who don’t believe in me, who don’t support me, or who are not doing anything to propel themselves forward. Always remember to protect your surroundings at all costs.

7. Take care of yourself

Self-care isn’t always exquisite bath bombs, body scrubs, oil massages, and aromatherapy (although those are some of my faves!). Sometimes it’s going to bed at 10 pm, saying “no,” letting go of that toxic relationship/friendship or forgiving yourself or others that may have hurt you. It may also mean giving yourself grace for not meeting impossible standards. Self-care is putting yourself first, protecting the person you are becoming, and choosing not to settle for anything less than what you deserve.

8. Untangle your feelings from your actions

How many times have we not done things we knew we needed to do because we didn’t feel like doing them? For example, I plan to wake up at 5 am daily so that I can have time for meditation and centering. However, 9 times out of 10 when that alarm goes off at 5 am I “don’t feel like” getting up. I can’t let how I feel in that moment prevent me from doing what I know I need to do. Many times we don’t act in certain situations or make moves because we don’t feel like it. You will never unlock your true potential if you go through life constantly considering how it makes you feel. Many times you have to intercept those thoughts quickly or they will change your whole trajectory.

Hopefully, this list can help you as you consider ways to make this a wonderful year! My prayer is that every year, we become better people than before. Learning from our mistakes and successes and then putting our experience to work in the future. What principle could you relate to the most? What would you add to this list, if anything? What is one valuable lesson you learned last year that you know will help you become better in 2018? Drop them in the comments below, let’s discuss!

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