Self Care Is Inside Out
It’s no secret that your twenties are a turbulent time, regardless of who you are. Those years are full of self-exploration, mistakes, heartache and internal/external pressures.
There’s college, jobs, relationships, finding yourself and your way in this huge every changing world. You’re considered an adult, and you’re required to have so many boxes checked, but who came up with that crazy illusion? You’re expected to fulfill multiple roles at a time while letting your self-care and love fall to the waste side. And that’s a great adult? Nonsense! On a whole our country is grand in many aspects, however, we lack the simple concept of building the very best versions of ourselves because we’re too worried about money, working, or other peoples perceptions. Quite frankly we lack boundaries on so many levels, and as adults we’re teaching our children this. We praise people for being worn down and tired, as if that equals happiness and hard work but that’s so backwards. We fill our calendars and planners full with obligations and requirements, but where does the obligation to ourselves lie? Being a workaholic isn’t something I believe people should take pride in. Our life shouldn’t be in shambles before we decide to take care of ourselves. We should be praising people for showing up and being vulnerable, for setting boundaries, for following their heart and building a life that they don’t feel the need to escape from any chance they get.
"Throughout my life I have struggled to find the balance between showing compassion to others and leaving none for myself. For most of my life this worked for me, until the universe decided to teach me some hard lessons. I have come to realize that inside out work is hard, the hardest in fact."
I have always taken pride in the fact that I am constantly working, and to be quite honest, a workaholic. Thinking that I was doing right and making my family proud. It is no surprise to me or my family, I’m sure, that I went into a profession that allowed me to continue to constantly give myself to others. Being in the mental health and substance abuse counseling field has taught me a lot, and even more about myself. I now know that I experience compassion fatigue and burnout if I do not pay attention to my emotional and physical state. I know that I escape through many outlets, some positive and negative, if I don’t weave self-care into my daily life. This has been one of the hardest and most profound realizations in my life. I recently read an article discussing the popularity of “self-care” (massages, fancy spas and vacations) and actual self-care. The author discussed that self-care is the hard, unbeautiful, dirty work that we have to do within our lives to maintain self-happiness and love. That girl knows her stuff! Self-care is about facing your negative thought patterns and behaviors and saying “lets change this”. It’s about admitting your flaws and loving yourself anyway. It’s about setting hard boundaries in a society that doesn’t respect them. It’s not about fixing but progressing.
By practicing self-care every day, I have since learned that I am a better Counselor, daughter, friend and human being when I am taking care of myself first and setting strong boundaries . I have found that sometimes I have to take a step back and love myself, so that I can fully show up for my clients. There is no right or wrong way to engage in self-work, just honesty and perseverance. You see in any profession especially, those that you help others, you cannot give without giving to yourself.
Alex Atkinson is a Licensed Alcohol Drug, and Mental Health Counselor. Alex received a Bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Psychology. She received her Master’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma in Substance Abuse Counseling. Alex has experience working with children and adults on a wide variety of issues including anxiety, depression, anger, behavioral issues, substance abuse, life skills, trauma and grief. Her passion is diagnosing and treating drug addicts, alcoholics, and family members impacted by addiction. Alex believes in a holistic counseling approach allowing clients to grow into the best version of themselves. In her free time Alex enjoys traveling , volunteering , yoga and reading.