Episode 11: World Mental Health Day: Treat Yo Self!
Episode 11: World Mental Health Day: Treat Yo Self!
In honor of World Mental Health Day, Alyssa discusses the concept of self care. In a society where self care is glamorized, Alyssa provides insight on the different between self-care versus numbing out and how taking care of yourself doesn’t always mean breaking the bank!
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Alyssa Scolari [00:24]:
Hi, everybody and surprise. We are dropping, well, I am dropping a special episode today. Today is October 10, 2020 and it is World Mental Health Day. So I wanted to drop this episode on this day because I think that there’s a lot that we have to learn when it comes to mental health and a lot that we need to be doing to take care of ourselves right now, especially in the middle of this global pandemic.
Alyssa Scolari [00:57]:
So, I want to talk about this widely used term of self-care. So many people say, “Self-care, self-care, self-care.” Well, what the hell does it actually mean? I think that when most people think of self-care, and I know that this is true for me, they think of something similar to this specific episode of Parks and Rec, all my Parks and Rec lovers out there, you all have to know what I’m talking about, with Tom and Donna. I’m actually going to play this clip for you right now because I think this is what so many people think self-care actually is. So, I’m going to play this.
Three words for you, treat yourself. Treat yourself 2011. Once a year, Donna and I spend a day treating ourselves. What do we treat ourselves to?
Fine leather goods.
It’s the best day of the year. [crosstalk 00:01:59] The best day of the year.
Alyssa Scolari [02:01]:
I love that clip so much. This is one of the funniest shows… Sidebar real quick. This is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen in my life. I did not know what Parks and Rec was until honestly, three years ago when my husband introduced it to me. He was like, “You have to watch this show,” and we watched it. It was before we even got married and I laughed my ass off. If you have not watched the show yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for, but it’s what we all need in times like these. So I digress.
Alyssa Scolari [02:40]:
Back on track. Like I was saying, I think so many people think that self-care looks like, like Donna said: mimosas, fine leather goods, buying yourself a pair of diamond earrings, buying yourself a new car. I know for me when I was, I guess in my late teens, early twenties and I first started working, I thought self-care was going to get a manicure. So I would get my nails done every two weeks. I thought it was going to get a haircut. I thought it was buying the latest clothing, going shopping. I would spend way more money than I was actually bringing in all in the name of self-care. I’m stressed out. I had a hard day at work. I had a long day at grad school. I’m really tired. I’m going to go online. I’m going to buy myself some shoes. I’m going to buy myself a purse. I loved to shop because it made me feel better. It gave me a temporary relief. I think that that’s what a lot of us do.
Alyssa Scolari [03:54]:
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a fan of some retail therapy. It’s one of my favorite types of therapy, but it does become a problem when you don’t incorporate other types of self-care or if you really don’t understand what self-care even is. I actually was hurting myself in the long run because I was spending way more money than what I was making and really just for a quick fix. So I would feel better once I got my new Michael Kors purse or I ordered a Kate Spade phone case that I spent $90 on when I really didn’t have $90 to spend. But then after a day or two, the newness wears off and you’re back to feeling that sense of emptiness, I need something, I’m depressed, I’m stressed out.
Alyssa Scolari [04:50]:
So that’s why I wanted to release this episode on World Mental Health Day about self-care because it’s crucial to all of our well-beings. Just to make it clear, self-care is not just for people who have mental health issues or mental illness. Self-care is for everybody, whether you’ve been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or if you’ve never had a mental health diagnosis in your whole life, you still need self-care.
Alyssa Scolari [05:31]:
I think that the term self-care looks different for each and every one of us. And it also can look different for us each and every day, depending on what kind of mood we’re in, where we’re at emotionally, physically. My definition of what it means to take care of yourself, and this is something that I preach to my clients about and really try to internalize for myself, but my self-care is trying to honor the emotions that I’m feeling. So instead of trying to numb out, because I used to numb out and that’s what I would consider self-care, I have a lot of anxiety right now, I don’t like what I just ate because my eating disorder is telling me I shouldn’t have eaten that, and what would I do? I would buy something online. I would buy makeup. I would maybe go out on getting more food to try and comfort the part of me that was feeling anxious.
Alyssa Scolari [06:39]:
I know in particular, when I was really little, I used to have these horrible fears of my mom dying. My mom was getting her master’s degree. So she was working all day and then she would be in school at night. I would be home with my dad and with my brother. There were so many times where I remember sitting at the top of the steps at night waiting for her to get home and I had to be, I don’t know, maybe six at the time. I would be sobbing and I would keep having these intrusive images that would come into my mind again, as a six year old. Who knows how these images even got in my brain? I was pretty much into Disney when I was a kid. So who knows, but I just remember having these really intrusive images flash into my brain of my mom being dead. It was gruesome and more often than not, it was a car accident. I would eat as a little kid to comfort myself.
Alyssa Scolari [07:55]:
So it would be maybe, I don’t know, nine, 10 o’clock at night. I would find myself in the pantry sneaking food into my room to try to comfort myself from the horrible images that I was having of my mom being dead. So from a little kid, I had this idea of self-nurturing and self-care that really actually turned out to be very self destructive for me in the end. It was not self-care. As I mentioned earlier these days, it looks a little bit different for me. Instead of trying to numb out or stuff those feelings and emotions down, I try to honor them. So I recognize them. Instead of immediately jumping to try to forget about how I feel or ignore how I feel, I let those feelings come up. I talk about it. I reach out to my husband. I reach out to my friends. I write. I journal. Journaling has really been saving my life.
Alyssa Scolari [09:00]:
The Light After trauma blog that I started where I put out new blog posts every week has been really healing for me because it makes me accountable to write. I was always one of those people that was like, “Oh, I don’t feel like writing. I have too much to do. I don’t have time to journal,” which is honestly a load of crap. So if that’s an excuse that you use, that’s a bunch of shit. The truth is that we are avoiding our feelings by not journaling. When I started to hold myself accountable and made myself write at least once a week, I noticed a major improvement in myself.
Alyssa Scolari [09:40]:
Other times for me, self-care looks like saying no. It can be as simple as that. I think that we feel so pressured to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak, and for me, I really had to let go of that. So, no, I don’t have to go to every party I’m invited to. No, I don’t have to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way. I’ve really learned how to say no to preserve my own sanity and my own mental health. That’s really all about boundary setting, which honestly, I could do a whole episode on boundary setting and I’ll probably do multiple episodes on boundaries throughout the podcast, but that’s been huge for me in terms of self-care. Sometimes it’s also as simple as getting outside on a nice night and looking at the stars and just getting out of your own head and your own problems, looking at the world around you, getting on the highway, seeing the trees, seeing the colors change. It’s the most beautiful time of the year right now and a lot of these sensory things for me are self-care.
Alyssa Scolari [11:01]:
And again, what works for me may not work for all of you. It’s about finding what works. So for the animal lovers out there, I know you all know, I love animals. Sometimes it’s petting your dogs. Sometimes it’s taking them on a walk. Hell, for me, some days it’s petting my dogs and some days self-care looks like getting so far away from my dogs and being in total silence by myself. Sometimes self-care looks like turning on a murder podcast. I absolutely love the topic of murder and true crime. The My Favorite Murder podcast is one of my favorite podcasts of all time. So sometimes I’ll just put my headphones on and listen to that and get into someone else’s world and out of my own.
Alyssa Scolari [11:53]:
Another thing that’s been really helpful for me lately is yoga and exercise. That might sound kind of cliche. I’ve been somebody who exercise my whole life, but I never really used it for self-care. Exercise for me was always a tool that added fuel to the fire that was my eating disorder. So I would exercise to burn calories. That’s the only reason I did it. Exercised to tone, tone your butt, tone your arms, get that beach body. All that crap that the media tries to sell you on that really isn’t attainable, that’s the only reason why I ever worked out. But lately, I’ve been slowing it down a lot. I’ve been getting into the practice of yoga and I’ve been learning a lot about what kind of movement my body actually enjoys, what feels good, what doesn’t feel good. I’ve actually stopped working out for the calories. It’s been amazing.
Alyssa Scolari [13:04]:
In fact, I even went so far as to take off my Apple watch when I’m working out, which for anyone out there that struggles with eating disordered habits, or that might have an addiction to exercise, I know you all know how hard that is because all that matters is burning as many calories as possible on the Apple watch when you hit that workout setting. I’ve actually taken it off. And let me tell you something, if you have not done so, I highly recommend it because it’s one of the best forms of self-care that I have ever done. I didn’t spend a dime and it wasn’t self destructive. If anything, it helped me to focus less on counting calories and getting toned and more on exercising as a way to take great care of myself.
Alyssa Scolari [13:59]:
So there are lots more things that I do to take care of myself. I could sit here all day and tell you, which is great because at one point, I really didn’t have any ways that involved me taking care of myself or any methods for self-care. I’ve evolved a lot lately and I’ve been able to do so without breaking the bank, which I think society loves to tell us that the only way we can properly care for ourselves is to spend money, keep up with the trends, keep ourselves in good shape, et cetera. So, there’s a million options for ways that you can self-care. It’s as simple as making sure you drink enough water throughout the day, or it can be as complex as taking a trip to Fiji. Honestly, really depends on what’s going on and what you need. But if you are looking for more ideas on self-care, you can certainly Google. A quick Google search is going to give you thousands of tips for self-care without ways to break the bank. These are really stressful times in the middle of a global pandemic, middle of a presidential election.
Alyssa Scolari [15:18]:
It is tough. So please, please, please make sure that you are taking care of yourself because you are loved and important and needed in this world. With that being said, I just want to continue to thank you all so much for the support on this podcast. We aren’t even at eight weeks since the podcast has launched and we’ve got well over 700 downloads. I love you all. Shout out to everybody all over the world. We’ve got downloads in Ireland and Belgium and Australia and Norway and Canada and all over the United States. Shout out to Washington, especially, because you guys up there are really downloading the podcast a lot. It’s just been an incredible experience and an honor, and I truly hope that my words and the words of the guests on the show are helping you.
Alyssa Scolari [16:17]:
If you are enjoying the podcast, I implore you to please rate the podcast, leave a review and share with your friends. Continue to download and subscribe. If you haven’t yet, go sign up for the newsletter at alyssascolari.com. And don’t forget to join the Light After Trauma Facebook group. We have a private Facebook group where you have access to different tips and tools and supplements to all the other podcast episodes. So be sure to check that out. Feel free to send me an email if there’s any questions you have or any topics you want covered on the podcast. Thank you all so much again. You are amazing. Take great care.
Alyssa Scolari [17:06]:
Thanks for listening. Hope you enjoyed this episode. For more information about today’s episode and to sign up for the Light After Trauma newsletter, head over to my website at alyssascolari.com. I’m also on Twitter and I’d love to chat with you guys. Be sure to follow me. My Twitter handle is AlyssaScolari. Thanks again for listening and take good care.
Alyssa Scolari [17:25]: