May is Mental Health Month and we all know it's crucial to prioritize our mental well-being, especially as we age. Yet setting boundaries and saying no are things that we may not think of as essential parts of self-care and it can be challenging to know where to start.
In this post, I’ve created a fictitious woman who like so many of us knew instinctively that she needed some practical self-care ideas to help her prioritize her mental health.
I’ve named her Effie who has the same name as my beloved maternal grandmother who never stopped giving to others. A woman whose way of living took a huge toll on her as she ended up with cancer.
Grab a cup of tea, take a deep breath, and let's get started.
Once upon a time, Effie realized she needed to take better care of her mental health. She knew that setting boundaries and saying no were important pieces of taking care of herself but she wasn't sure where to start.
She heard about a small group of busy women who came together each week and were led by a life coach/psychotherapist. It was a big commitment but she decided instead of continuing the self-defeating pattern of berating herself for not consistently caring for herself, she joined the powerful group of women on Zoom.
At first, she didn’t know what to expect from the group. She didn’t know any of the other women but immediately she felt a strong connection to each of them because they were all struggling with the same things…negative self-talk, erratic self-care, not believing in themselves, starting things and not finishing, overdoing, and over giving.
All of these women wanted to be clear on what they wanted and how to focus on having peace of mind rather than listening to their inner critics.
All of them wanted a plan to change the story of what they had been telling themselves. They connected on a deep level even though they were physically miles apart.
In between the weekly sessions, Effie decided to make a list of self-care ideas to help her prioritize her mental health. She included activities like yoga, meditation, and reading. She also made a point to set aside time to write in her journal using the prompts the coach gave her to work through the issues that weighed on her mind.
She discovered she could bring those concerns and worries to the group and get support and new ideas on new ways to deal with her life.
She soon realized that self-care wasn't just about doing things to feel better; it was also about being kind and compassionate to herself. She stopped criticizing herself and started speaking to herself as she would her best friend.
She had never realized how hard she was on herself and decided instead of focusing on imperfection, she started to allow herself to make mistakes without getting bogged down in negative self-talk. She learned how to talk back to the saboteurs in her head.
She got support from the other women in the group. She started to believe in herself and gave herself permission to explore and embrace her values and the things that brought her joy.
As she continued in the group, she realized she had lost herself in giving so much to others. She began to reflect on what was important to her and what she wanted in life as she heard other women doing the same.
She wrote in her journal about the things that made her happy and made a plan for how she would do more of the things she loved.
She set goals that felt authentic and fulfilling, like volunteering for causes that she cared about and spending more time with her friends and loved ones. She decided to take the dance class that she had always longed to do but had put off.
Learning to say no was still a struggle for her, but through the group, she heard how other women had struggled with saying yes when they really wanted to say no She realized her time was valuable and that she needed to prioritize the things that mattered most to her.
She began checking in with herself every day to make sure she was living a life that felt true to her values. She learned how to incorporate these changes into her daily life.
Through it all, she learned that self-care wasn't just a checklist of activities to do; it was a journey of self-discovery and growth. It was about finding joy in life and then making sure that she was living that way.
She was grateful for the opportunity to prioritize her mental well-being and live a life that felt authentic and fulfilling. And she didn’t feel alone anymore. She also knew that she would benefit from having ongoing support so she signed up for the next set of group coaching sessions, knowing that she deserved and needed to be in a community of caring, supportive women.
If you’re like Effie and want to join us, there will be a new group starting soon.
Reply to [email protected] or sign up at johatcherretreats.com to experience the best community and circle of women who know they don’t want to waste another minute of not living their best lives.
Fall is a time for us to slow down, to ground ourselves and to nourish our bodies. This retreat is designed to help you stop and listen to what it is you need right now. It's a fun and restorative weekend with mindfulness exercises, morning yoga, an online cooking class with the fabulous Chef Bai, healthy recipes to try at home, meditations and group calls to connect you with other women.