Self-Care is such a popular topic these days. I can only assume it is because we are constantly on the go and we find it hard to unplug even when it is absolutely necessary. I am definitely preaching to a choir of one on this topic because I am guilty of “running myself ragged” as my daddy would say. He would also say, “You got that from your mama.” I can giggle to myself as I think about my dad’s sarcasm but I think that as women we are inherently driven by a natural instinct to care for others, other people, other things, and the list goes on all at our own expense. Let’s be honest though if we don’t run the world, who will? I can now hear my mama’s voice saying, “Danielle, the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Pride cometh before the fall. You don’t run anything.” Glass house shatters in 3…2…1!  Mama always has a ready word for the saints! However, in all seriousness, learning how to identify my own needs in order to self-care was a very humbling experience for me. I’m going to be very transparent and transparency, in my opinion, is a key factor in determining how to best self-care.

In November I began to feel physically spent. My energy level was extremely low, I was losing weight rapidly, and I just felt like I was experiencing a 24-hr panic attack.  I summed it up to a fairly new work transition, taking coursework, and trying to keep up as a wife and mother to a toddler. My husband started to notice that I was unraveling and he advised me to go to the doctor. I told him that I would but I put it off multiple times because of work or school work, or motherly/wifely duties. If I were to be completely honest, I also prioritized many other unnecessary obligations until I finally went in after Christmas only to be immediately referred to an endocrinologist as well as a rheumatologist after my blood work returned with alarming abnormalities. I found out that I was almost in a “thyroid storm,” a life-threatening condition due to an overactive thyroid or what is commonly known as Graves’ disease. I received the official diagnosis in February and was given my options for treatment.  I was also advised to make some immediate changes to my lifestyle to reduce stress because not doing so would work against the plan of care to get my thyroid levels under control. I told the doctor that “this was easier said than done” but he left me with these final words before he shook my hand and told me he would see me in a month for a medication management appointment, “you owe it to yourself and to those around you to prioritize your health, Ms. Boyd. Self-care is no longer optional.”

That day I learned that self-care, for me, was more about what I had allowed to take root by not taking the time to “check-in” with myself physically and most importantly with a Medical professional for months! I overstepped a boundary that should have been set with regard to prioritizing my health. I had to sit down in the quiet of my home two days after the visit mentioned above and gather my thoughts. My first question was, “how did I get here?” I knew I didn’t want to go back so I had to identify what self-care should look like for me. I also had to outline the action items which include non-negotiables such as thirty minutes of quiet time each night, that would help me to ensure that I prioritize my physical, mental, and spiritual needs consistently. It isn’t easy because there seems to always be something lobbying for my attention but my well-being literally depends on me being intentional about unplugging.  Self-care for me isn’t necessarily a mani/pedi or full body massage here and there. These are luxuries although I do try to keep these toes in check. It is in the quiet and calm of my bedroom or anywhere that my two-year-old is not that I find the space that I need to clear my thoughts, pray, journal, read the Word or even a good book. These simple things can also be luxuries if you lead a busy life and have others depending on you but I would encourage everyone to get your loved ones involved by communicating your specific self-care needs and letting them do so in return. Don’t assume that they should “just know.”

NOW let’s not forget that there are other areas of self-care that we may be in denial about. For me, it is exercising and eating right. Ugghh, story of my life! However, knowing is the first step and as the saying goes, “when you know better, you do better.” So with that in mind: know yourself, be honest with yourself (and others), advocate for yourself, value yourself, give yourself a break, treat yourself every now and then, and most importantly love yourself. Self-care is NOT optional!