Very often, I need to remind myself that I need to practice better self-care, particularly around this time of the year.
Nine years ago in May, I lost my best friend and husband of almost sixteen years. I’ve learned over the nine years since this loss, the importance of honoring the feelings that accompany this time of year. I have a great support system of co-workers, friends, and family – both chosen and biological – that provide great support. I have two wonderful stepsons and their partners along with two grandchildren that bring me great joy.
I’ve learned over the years that self-care is important year-round, not just as “special” times of the year. It’s important to be able to experience and accept all the feelings that accompany this time of year, both the painful feelings and joyous feelings. I have rituals that I have developed through the years: I look at our wedding pictures, and this year shared the pictures with good friends and my stepsons and their partners. My stepsons were pretty young when I married their father and they didn’t remember most of that day. I also have a memory book that friends put together when he died that I look at and remember him, especially this time of year.
I also do other self-care such as getting a pedicure, meeting friends for lunch and dinner, quilting, needlework, and my favorite activity of all time, shopping. I’ve come to accept this time of year with such mixed feelings, remembering the great times we shared and valuing all of the precious memories of the time we had together and how life has changed in the past nine years.
Self-care is so very important all year long and is different for everyone. I’ve recently attended a yoga class that I enjoyed and plan to continue yoga on a regular basis. I walk my 12-pound Maltese-poodle, Isabelle when the weather is nice; she has become the love of my life! I recently had my two grandchildren and my nephew’s two boys for a sleepover. While this may sound more stressful than self-care, the hugs and the request, “Can we do this again, soon” made my heart swell with contentment. Additionally, I have recently started meeting with a group of three women, once a month, to quilt.
Take the time to remember what brings you joy every day, but definitely in difficult times. Self-care takes many forms and is different for everyone. What is the same for everyone, is that self-care is important for everyone.
Mary Thornton is a licensed clinical social worker and worked at Jefferson Center for over 20 years.