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.
To tell this story, I need to take you back in time to last summer. I had just taken a HUGE step in my self-care journey by deciding to no longer teach lessons, so it seemed like I was on the right track. Add to that the mornings I dedicated to biking (my preferred choice of exercise) plus the personal development podcasts I listened to regularly, and I felt like a master of self-care.
I also felt like there was no better time to tackle one of my big goals: creating a course about how introverts can thrive in an extroverted career like music therapy. I sat down and created an editorial calendar — one that I thought was extremely reasonable and also allowed time for other pursuits.
As I dove into course creation mode, I realized just how big of an undertaking it really was. Since I was so passionate about the subject matter, I wanted to put 100% into every aspect of the course. Creating the outlines and writing the chapters were the most stressful tasks, though I loved every minute.
What I didn’t realize was the extent to which creating this course was taking priority over everything else in my life. I’ve let this happen in the past, so you’d think I would have noticed the signs…but I didn’t. I was going through the motions of riding my bike, taking care of my children, and attending to other work responsibilities, but my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t letting all of those things do what they should have done for me, which was to nourish my body and soul.
Tap-tap-clap, tap-tap-clap…that’s the body rhythm pattern that accompanies the verses of this catchy winter song. We change things up during the chorus, rubbing our hands together to create that swishy swimming sound as the polar bear glides through the sea.
Here’s a little-known fact: when I set out to become a music therapist, I had no intention of working with children. My heart was with older adults, after witnessing the power of music with my grandma, who had Alzheimer’s Disease. My first practicum experience in a nursing home during graduate school only further solidified my plans.
But as I gained more experience working with children, I had a change of heart. Helping them achieve their goals through music is what brought me the most joy, so I pursued an internship that served mainly children. From that point on, it was clear that I had found my dream population.
Fast forward a little over 10 years to this past December, when my private practice was contacted by a memory care center in a nearby city. They wanted to offer music therapy services to their residents as soon as possible, and I surprised myself by offering to personally take on the contract for the time being.
This year, instead of setting huge goals for myself, I came up with some habits I wanted to instill that are in line with my word for 2018 — JOY. None of these action items are brand new to my life, but the difference is that now I’m holding myself accountable.