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Compassion in Action: An Exploration of Self-Love and Self-Care

Written by Kayla Reetz, Trauma Supports Director & Kids Yoga + Mindfulness Instructor

"I began to realize that the self-care I needed was to give myself some self-love. For me, this meant reminding myself of the things that I knew filled my heart and soul. " ~ Kayla Reetz

Hello everyone. I write today to discuss self-love and self-care.  Now, I know these concepts have been thrown around significantly.  In fact, many people are so tired of hearing the terms, it can cause feelings of anger or frustration right away.  Discussing it can sometimes be as polarizing as today’s politics, it seems. 

However, I have learned through my recent experience and conversations with others, that this is still a very real issue for many people.

In this blog, I share examples of how to show self-compassion through my personal journey and experience.  My hope is that something within my experience sparks within you, the reader, to find it for yourself as well.

Those of you who follow my blog posts may remember my life choices and changes in the last six months.  Well, I had another major change recently.  My father passed away.

After his passing, my focus changed from supporting myself to supporting my family in the ways I could.  I became more aware of my mom's daily life, especially after my brother and his family went back to their home.  I would help pick up things too heavy for one to carry or the things that got forgotten amidst the grieving.  I would remind my mother she was not alone and didn’t have to face things alone if she didn’t want to.  

It’s important to note that I didn’t do these things alone.  My husband was also doing this, but I know he was doing it for me as well as my mother. But, through all of this, I found myself becoming less.  Less patient. Less focused. Less strong. Less joyful. Less creative.  I found myself less of many of the things that made me feel like… me.

I think I noticed this change most in the month after our loss.  We were trying to find our new “normal”.  Each of us was getting back to our work routine, and I noticed that I was having a harder time keeping things straight.  I lost a set of vehicle keys.  I consistently double-booked myself with scheduling.  I turned to things like social media or TV instead of what I knew would make me feel better.  I blamed this on healing.  I blamed it on the fact that I went through something huge and was still recovering.  And although there was an element of truth to that, it was like I was reaching for the band-aid instead of the medicine. Hiding the wound without curing the infection.

I began to realize that the self-care I needed was to give myself some self-love.

For me, this meant reminding myself of the things that I knew filled my heart and soul.  I reflected on the previous summer when I did the C2C Developing a Relationship with Yourself Challenge and how it forced me to spend a few moments with myself.  I remembered the centered mindset and sense of groundedness it helped me to feel. I pulled out my Mantra Card Deck and my Affirmations Card Deck. Sometimes we can find the perfect card we were never expecting.

Image: From our Mantra Card Deck

I started to take more ownership of my meditation space. I made sure it was a space that invited me each morning instead of having this time feel like another chore. I set out my journal and pen, both card decks, and a gratitude journal as well.  I swept this area fairly consistently.  If it wasn’t clean, I noticed I didn’t focus as well.

And then, the actual work- finding my routine again and listening to my body and mind.  It meant being intentional with my time and making sure to spend time with myself for myself.

Once the dogs are fed, I take my cup of coffee into my space and turn on some instrumental music.  Then, I begin to focus on my breath.  I find stillness.  I find calm.  I find a slice of peace. Some days, I incorporate movement, but most days, my body isn’t ready for that yet, and I find healing in journaling.

Some days are easier than others. On these days, I am reminded of what I tell students and adults- this is a practice, not perfection- and I try to get a few moments in, even if it is shorter than I thought it would be.  When I get stuck in my mind or emotions throughout the day, I turn to creativity and gratitude.  This was as simple as writing a kindness gram (a note) for a colleague, or as complex as painting.

And that brings me back to why this blog topic.  Self-care and self-love are not only things we say to ourselves in passing or in certain moments.  It’s about making a point to give yourself time on a routine basis to help fill your soul so that you can fulfill others.

I shared what seemed to work for me.  What works for you? Start with naming how you care for yourself.

Maybe it’s something related to your family such as doing a game night with family members with full presence.  Or maybe it's about finding time away from family like reading a book before bed. Maybe it’s about doing the thing that has to get done- something you’ve been avoiding.  You know it’s work, but you also recognize that you’ll feel better once it’s done.

If you find yourself coming up short in that area, here are some simple, yet effective ideas.

Self-Care Activity Ideas:

  • Phone downtime once a week

  • Taking a shower

  • Actively listening to music on the way home from work or in the pick up line. 

  • Finding time to meet with supportive friends

  • Finding stillness or calm 

  • Exercising.  (I know, I know.  Calm through movement!? But hey, it works!) 

  • Sitting outside instead of inside when it’s nice 

  • Turning the TV and phone off and noticing what you notice

And how about self-love?  How can you show yourself kindness and acceptance?

Maybe it’s the recognition that you are not perfect. Maybe it's about allowing yourself to try something new and giving yourself grace. Maybe it’s finding an uplifting mantra to say to yourself.  And still more, maybe it’s about giving time to yourself for yourself.  In doing so, remind yourself you are worth the work and effort to find and make the time.

Whatever that care and love may be or look like for you, it is my hope you spend some time thinking about it and then work toward it, as I do for myself. 



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