• Phyllis Prestamo

Self-Care - You Deserve It!

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

I don't know about you, but I totally took advantage of the "stay-at-home" order. I have not worn a real pair of slacks, put on make-up or blown dry my hair, but as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, and the thought of another Zoom meeting made me want to scream, I started to feel a bit of depression set in. At first when this all started, I counted my blessings; being retired, I have a pension, my freezer and cupboards were stocked and due to my husband's buying habits had plenty of paper towel and toilet paper, but then my thoughts turned to those who aren't so fortunate. As a Deacon in our church I had 20 families in my deacon cluster to touch base with, I have year-end responsibilities and support for the young principal I am mentoring who was trying to manage at-home learning for her 60+ Special Education students under her care, there was a scholarship selection process to manage, masks to make for the Hackettstown Hospital, support my local food pantry, and my niece just had a new baby girl in Wisconsin and I had to finish sewing the box full of homemade goodies to send to her. I was also now obsessed with meal planning, cooking and baking-- perfecting my baguettes and everyday sandwich bread. My days turned into a non-stop to do list that left me exhausted. About two weeks ago I was cleaning and organizing yet another closet when I came across a booklet that was given to me some time ago. It is called "The Self-Care Planner" by www.simpleself.co. The quote on the first page caught my attention.

Incorporating self-care every day helps to serve as an armor to protect the energy that we need in order to survive and thrive.

Dr. Maria Baratta, PHD, LCSW

I sat on the floor in front of the closet and filled out the Self-Care Assessment - I was truly in need of some attention. The book divided Self-Care into four categories:

  • Physical - Diet, Exercise, Appearance, Hygiene

  • Emotional - Mindfulness, Positive Self-Talk, Gratitude

  • Social - Connecting with Others, Relationships

  • Spiritual - Beliefs, Time in Nature, Reflection

Like in an airplane, the flight attendant tells us that in an emergency you should put on your oxygen mask before helping others. The most important relationship we have is the one we have with ourselves and we often overlook it. Self-care doesn't need to be extravagant or cost a lot. It's simply a way to support yourself and fuel your body and soul to have fresh energy to help those you care about and need your support.

Below are some suggestions and links to help you with this process. Please remember I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, so all of the suggestions should take in consideration your own medical and physical needs and consult your doctor if you have any questions.


  • The Art of Taking a Bath - Hot baths have been scientifically proven to have medicinal qualities by restoring your body as well as your soul. Soak in a hot bath (no more than 20 minutes) filled with a handful of Epsom or sea salt, 1/2 cup baking soda and 10 drops of your favorite essential oil. This combo draws out toxins, lowers stress-related hormones and balances your pH levels. Fill the bath, dim the lights, light some candles and turn on some soothing music.

  • Try a Guided Meditation - Find a meditation that really calms you. It might take a bit of trial and error to find a soothing voice, but its definitely worth the effort. Here's a link to try some out - Free Guided Meditations

  • Sit Quietly in Nature - This one is not hard. Pick a part of the day that suits you. Simply sit and listen to the birds, feel the breeze and admire what spring has to offer. Breathe deeply and listen to your own body rhythms, you may even fall asleep. Stargazing is another option for those night owls.

  • Read for Pleasure - For years, I have had to read for my job and often under a deadline. Being retired, I have discovered the relaxing habit of reading. At first I thought of it as a time that I could being more productive doing something else, but I forced myself to start using the library and reading regularly each day. I have now been using my Kindle and have started tackling my "books to read" stack in my nightstand. Listening to an Audible book is also wonderfully relaxing, especially if the reader is really good. But be careful, I have fallen asleep and found that I am chapters ahead and have to go back and find where I fell asleep so I know what's going on!

  • Stay Connected - Make a phone call, send and Email or a card via Snail mail. Staying connected to others is important sense of well-being. We started Zooming every Sunday night for dinner with my girls and their families and I've started communicating via Google Hang-outs with my grand kids. We have found that we all need support and the connections have helped with isolation anxiety. I also find my Saturday morning Bible study a blessing. and a time to connect with my "church ladies".

For Health

  • Go for a Walk or a Run - Our neighborhood is great for this and we have explored some of the trails that branch off into the woods. I use the MapMyWalk app to record my route and stats. It's sometimes hard to get motivated to go out, but when I do it feels great.

  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate - Get in the habit of filling a large drink bottle with water. Don't like plan water try one of these recipes.

-Add 2 thick slices of peeled quartered cucumber to your water bottle

-Add a few drops of lemon or lime juice

-Steep Herbs -Adding leaves to your H20, like mint or crushed basil

-Spice water up with cinnamon water made from simmering a cinnamon stick

  • Get Some Sun - After working 10 hour days for years my doctor told me I was Vitamin D deficient - remember not too much. How to Safely Get Vitamin D from Sun

  • Create some Healthy Snacks - The problem with being at home is the constant urge to snack. nuts, fruits, cut up vegetables are good choices. Here are some recipes for some healthy snack bars

For Expression

  • Start a Journal, List Book or a Sketch Book - I'm not great at Journaling, but love to make lists or keep notes about a topic. You could also spend time on Pinterest learning a new skill or collecting ideas. I find Pinterest very relaxing and currently have 54 Boards including Watercolor Techniques, Books I have Read, Books I Would Like to Read, Fabulous Fashions for 60+, Family History, Instant Pot Recipes, Holiday boards, Sewing and Baking...

  • Start a New Hobby or Perfect an Old One - My newest creative endeavor is watercolor painting. I started with a class, but have been following a few water-colorists on YouTube that have online tutorials, since my classes have been cancelled.

  • Sing or Listen to Music - This always makes me feel better!

Self-Care Just Because

  • Spa Day(s) - When was the last time you have been to a salon, had your nails done, had a pedicure, gotten a haircut? Since these places are closed the answer isn't too hard. There are many things you can do at home to keep you looking trim and cared for and the added bonus is that you just will feel better. A good friend works at an Adult Care facility and told me how they encourage the residents, in addition to exercise classes, games and music, to come for beauty treatments offered each week at the facility. As a geriatric RN, she says that this helps with morale and the health of the residents as they keep up with self-care and feel good about themselves.

We are all different and hopefully, we can all find our own ways of taking care of ourselves. - You certainly deserve it!

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

Maya Angelou

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