Self-care in the real world

Jessica Treadwell graduated from BU’s College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College in 2008 with a BS in therapeutic studies and an MS in occupational therapy. She has worked in acute care, pediatric clinical settings, and now the public school system. Jessica has also worked as a certified personal trainer and health coach for the past 15 years. She currently owns/operates two wellness businesses, where she supports clients in their pursuit of better health and wellness in all aspects of life.

If you’re into health and wellness, if you work in the field, or if you even just watch the news, you’ve been hearing the term “self-care” thrown around quite a bit these last few years. And for good reason. Science has shown the benefits of stress management go well beyond stress relief and extend into so many areas of health and immunity. Maybe you’ve even heard this before: self- care is a discipline, more than just an “activity”. And how true that is!!

You can get as many manicures as you can schedule in, do facial masks every Sunday, or take a girls’ weekend away once a year. We all know that feels incredible, and sometimes the effect even lingers for a few days. But what happens most of the time?? Well…life does. We get home from the manicure appointment to a sink full of dirty dishes and very “hangry” kids. We come home from a weekend with our girlfriends to 50 work emails that had to be answered yesterday. Yep…there goes that feeling of bliss and relaxation! True self-care does have a lingering effect. But it takes a commitment, support, and a daily decision to be your healthiest self.

So how can we make self-care impactful? Start with small steps, make them consistent, and build slowly…

First things first

For me, it all starts with the foundation of nutrition. Whether I’m working out of the house (or in, these days) or home with the kids, I start my day with an adaptogenic tea to keep my cortisol (stress hormone) levels at bay. I have to eat breakfast anyway, so I make the daily decision to have my superfoods shake. If I’m drinking coffee, I chose a low acidic, organic coffee filled with coconut oil for fat burning, with nothing synthetic and regularly tested for mold and toxins. Those are three decisions I make before 8 AM that benefit my health, mood, and energy levels in the short and long term.

Now, move it!

Next comes exercise. This is a tough one, because sometimes. time really is a hurdle. But I can commit to 10 minutes of yoga over scrolling social media in the morning. I can take a walking lunch or do a set of push-ups or tricep dips between zoom meetings.

Get some zzz’s

Sleep? Well, that’s a self-care activity that gets neglected all too often. And sometimes, much of it is out of our control. Maybe your kids wake you up a few times a night? Maybe you have to work late or work the night shift. But when I am home, I can choose to turn the TV or phone off 30 minutes earlier at night. I create an electronic-free bedroom to support better sleep hygiene. I can listen to a 10 min sleep meditation before bed (I love the Peloton app for these).

Speaking of meditation…

Here’s another self-care activity supported by tons of research. Maybe you’re like me and never thought you could meditate (or even sit still for 30 minutes). Months after starting this practice, I still find I can only attend to 10 minutes at a time. But I can really tune out life for those ten minutes, and the effect really does carry over to the rest of my day.

Final thoughts

If we want glowing skin, weight wellness, healthy aging, and stress management…the answers lie right in front of us, in the small, daily decisions to make one healthy choice over a less healthy one. Day in and day out.

Start with the foundation. Make sure your nutrition is supporting you to live your best life. Then add one new self-care activity every 3-4 weeks, when the previous one has become an easier habit. And don’t do it alone. Find your tribe or join mine…because self-care is really more fun if you’re not doing it by yourself!

What’s my morning routine? A gratitude journal and a warm cup of adaptogenic tea.

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