I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Kailua, Hawaii, feeling the serenity that comes from spending several hours each day walking on the beach. I booked this trip on impulse just a week before I arrived. I chose a solo getaway to Hawaii because this place has amazing healing properties.
Regular readers know I had a rough summer, I lost my best friend to cancer, and the last month has been unexpectedly difficult for me. Just the mention of her name makes me choke up. The grief that comes from losing someone you love in such a traumatic way is crippling. The combination of mental exhaustion from her caretaking and the grief of her loss welled up to a point where I was having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.
I decided to show myself some love and give myself the gift of Hawaii for a week. And I couldn’t pass up a last minute airfare deal :) All these hours I’ve spent alone on the beach left to think and reflect reminded me how important it is to actively engage in self care. The term “self care” is one we hear a lot these days. It’s not just about taking care of ourselves physically, but mentally as well.
I was having a conversation with a mom friend the other day. She was having intense anxiety because she was being pulled in too many directions. This is so common among women, we tend to say yes to everything because we want to please others and then end up suffering as a result. We go through this internal debate: am I being selfish by saying no to ____, or should I just suck it up and keep giving more of myself?
But in reality, we must say no to anything that throws us off balance, takes away from our priorities, or endangers our mental stability. We need to have the courage to make changes in our lives where things aren’t working even if it causes disappointment or temporary pain. We must establish healthy boundaries by blocking out the things that we don’t want to do just because others have their expectations of us. We cannot survive or thrive in a long term state of anxiety or stress or depression. Our body, our heart, and our soul need rest to replenish.
Self love in action is placing yourself in a healthy environment where you thrive and grow, and removing yourself from energy draining environments that are defeating. Maybe this means breaking up with a toxic relationship or leaving a stressful job. Even social media can destroy our joy when we get caught up watch everyone else’s highlight reel instead of feeling gratitude for the blessings in our lives.
Instead of playing the comparison game, change the yardstick of the measurement of your success. Live your life on your terms without care or concern for anyone else’s definition of success, and ignore any judgment you receive for your choices.
Today I just wanted to share some words of encouragement to be your own best friend. Make the choice to put self care into action. Especially as we enter another busy holiday season, remember to be kind to yourself.
Take a long walk with your favorite playlist. Take yourself out to lunch. Go get a pedicure or go to the movies. Or if you’re like me, book an impulsive trip to getaway for a few days. :) Like they remind us on the airplane, put your oxygen mask on yourself first before you help others. Step away from your busy life and give yourself a break to refocus on what’s important to you. Be brave enough to say no to anything that causes you stress, and the courage to say yes to the things that fulfill you.
Sending much aloha.
Well said! I remember grief, I woke up with it every day for quite a while after my dad died. And then it went away. I could not really do anything about it, just walk through it. I have learned to take care of myself. If I feel poorly, I have nothing to offer the people around me.. Good for you for showing yourself some love, and acknowledging your feelings.
Aloha and welcome to my hometown! Sitting on the beach and watching the sunrise has been a balm to my soul many a time. Self love can be the most elusive and self care seems to fall to the bottom of our priorities. Good for you to recognize how very much we need both. Makani ‘olu’olu e kai malie on your journey!
Welcome to my hometown. I’ve found sitting on the beach and watching the sunrise a balm for my soul many a time. Makani ‘olu’olu e kai malie on your journey.
Your words sound so true to me that I can only say thanks and share them.
I’m envious of your proximity to Hawaii and being able to take a last minute trip! I can identify with so many things you wrote here, and when you lost your best friend, my brother in law was going through cancer treatment. Sadly, things took a turn for the worse, and he lost his battle, leaving behind a wife and three teen aged kids. He was my husband’s identical twin, so he lost not only his brother, but his best friend. It’s been terrible, and I’ve been struggling trying to get back to normal myself, after going through such an ordeal. Self care is so important, and I think it’s key to making your way through losses like these. Thanks for sharing.
This is an amazing reminder that we all go through dark times and we should be gentle with ourselves (AND OTHERS!!) because what lies beneath the surface can be sadness/anger/ depression or even fear. I wish you all the time you need to be sad.
I have found as I get older that taking care of me is a lot harder than I thought it would be! I deferred for decades to what was good for husband/kids/friends because I genuinely enjoy doing these things. I had no idea how to do things just for me. It’s taken a while but I am figuring out what makes me happy. Big things yes, but mostly very little easy things. A certain brand of food over another. A certain mug to drink my coffee. This set of sheets over those. No actually I don’t really like that restaurant we go to very much. Drop by drop I am filling up my tank : )
Kate- You are an angel. Your friend was so lucky to have your support through her ordeal. I know so many other people who have had cancer that have stated that their friends ran away when they were diagnosed. As a cancer survivor myself, I can tell you that most people do not support. They just want to live their own lives – without having a friend with cancer to darken their day. God bless you and god bless your friend.
Your site is wonderful! My wife and I enjoy reading all your articles. And you make wonderful photos – like a world famous photographer! We admire you!
Kate…well said! Your heart will pace itself and slowly heal! Prayers to You as you take the time you need for self care!
I understand your emotional exhaustion, grief, and feeling of loss. It becomes less raw with time, but it is something that you will carry with you in life. I lost my beautiful 25 y.o. daughter two years ago and have practiced self care. You want to cocoon yourself in and not interact with people and that is OK.
What helped my husband and I tremendously is a book called “It’s OK you’re not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand” by Megan Devine. She GETS IT. It is an honestly written book and really spoke to us.
I wish you peace and healing as you mourn the loss of your best friend.