I left you hanging in my last blog post, which told the story of what happens when an introvert (me) stops practicing self-care. To summarize: I buried myself in my work, and while I was going through the motions of self-care activities, I wasn’t truly caring for my mind, body and soul. The outcome: I found myself headed down a scary path towards burnout.
Thankfully, I realized where I was headed before I actually got there, and I took action to correct course. Turning around at that point was no easy feat, but I knew that if I didn’t, all areas of my life would suffer even more than they already had.
I took a holistic approach to self-care, and I took it seriously. Here are the things I did to get back to a healthy place mentally, physically, and emotionally.
A mindset makeover.
I’ve read SO many accounts of people on their deathbed, listing their regrets in life. For the most part, those regrets include things like working too much, not spending enough time with their family and friends, worrying and stressing needlessly, etc. I realized that those were all the things I had been doing for the last several months, and I needed to change my thinking in terms of priorities and what makes for a fulfilling life.
I’m a huge believer in the Law of Attraction, and I knew that I had been attracting even more of those negative thought patterns and life circumstances through the way I was living. So I started to intentionally focus on the things that make me truly happy in order to bring in more positivity. It really can be as simple as getting happy in order to improve your life in a global way.
I started writing in a gratitude journal every single morning and again right before bed. I put my phone and computer away and played with my kids. I got back into songwriting and recording after an extended break. I listened to podcasts and audiobooks just for fun instead of only business-related ones. All of these things, along with what I’ve shared below, contributed to a huge shift in my mindset.
I needed a little extra help with my negative thoughts and just overthinking in general, so when I had the opportunity to enroll in a mindfulness meditation class locally, I jumped on it. I’ve tried meditation in the past, but I knew that a little extra guidance and accountability would go a long way.
This class helped me to use meditation as a practical tool, something that could fit into my everyday life. I learned lots of different techniques, and also was encouraged to stop putting so much pressure on myself to meditate “the right way”. Meditation has become one of my favorite ways to care for myself.
The meditation class I attended took place at a yoga studio 5 minutes from my house, and after it ended, I decided to try some yoga classes there — something I had NEVER done before. I had always been intimidated by yoga in general, and was nervous about looking ridiculous and like a total newbie.
But I went anyway, and have been going to at least one class per week on a regular basis ever since. My Tuesday night hot yoga class is one of the highlights of my week, and something I look forward to. It’s an opportunity to be in the presence of others and do something good for my mind and body all at the same time.
Work that made me feel connected.
I work from home quite a bit as a business owner, which is both a good and bad thing for introverts. I can go full days without leaving my house or connecting with the outside world in a physical way, and that had really taken a toll on me over the summer.
So part of my self-care makeover included doing more work that connected me to other people. I took on teaching an extra early childhood class at the studio and eventually took on a new music therapy group. Both have been wonderful for my soul: I’m reaching and helping more students and clients, which makes me feel alive and fulfilled much moreso than sitting behind my computer an extra few hours of the week.
There is so much more to learn about self-care and how to avoid burnout, and I’m especially grateful to those in my field who can offer their expertise. My friend and colleague in music therapy Ami Kunimura is one such expert, and her course Resilience Over Burnout: A Self-Care Program came about at the perfect time.
Though I’m still making my way through the course (the material is in-depth and comprehensive), I’ve been able to apply so much of Ami’s teachings to my life and work.
Implementing self-care in an intentional way is a lifelong practice. There have been times since recommitting to self-care that I’ve found myself dropping the ball, and in each instance, I’ve given myself grace and done my best to get back on track.
I hope that you’ll do the same when you find yourself letting self-care go by the wayside. And if you are looking for guidance when it comes to making self-care a sustainable part of your lifestyle, please consider joining me and many other helping professionals in Resilience Over Burnout: A Self-Care Program.
Now through Wednesday, February 28, when you enroll in the program, you’ll also receive access to the latest release of my course, The Introvert’s Guide to Thriving in an Extroverted Career. For music therapists, that’s a total of 34 CMTE credits.
Click here for all the details.