Self-Care for REALS
We’ve seen the stats about the effect of the pandemic on women and girls, in particular women and girls of color. It did a number on our mental and physical wellbeing.
I’ve recently been reading a great new book by Pooja Lakshmin, MD, who happens to be a local Austin psychiatrist. In Real Self Care, Dr. Lakshmin discusses the difference between real and faux self care—and she’s a champion for what I’m now calling “self care for reals.”
If you talk to me for five minutes, you’ll discover that I’m Shayna Barksdale, owner and creator of Austin Therapy for Girls—and an unapologetic child of the ’80s (I have the perm pictures to prove it). “For reals” is a term we used in the ’80s to mean really, totally, 100 percent true(unlike “gag me with a spoon,” aka “cringe”…but that’s a rabbit hole I won’t go down right now).
Self care for reals isn’t about taking a bath, doing a cleanse, or starting to get “back on track” (which is a statement I use frequently, cringe). There’s no track for what women and girls have been experiencing since 2020.
Now I’m not knocking the power of a good hot bath at the end of a hard day or an what I call ugly-cry session in the shower or bath. Sometimes the bathtub/closet is the only sanctuary where I can feel what I really need to feel, and you probably have your own version that works for you.
But during this time of year especially—it’s break-up season, school stress is at its highest, the news brings fresh opportunities for an anxiety attack every day—our waiting list for new clients is getting longer and longer, and it’s clear we need to put just as much energy into self-care that works as we do into the latest TikTok trend.
As Dr. Lakshimin talks about in her amazing book, real self-care originates within you and it is a verb—meaning it is an actionable internal decision that brings you not only closer to yourself but really to the most important people around you. I highly recommend this book (click here)to you, as a mom/wife/caregiver, can take time to learn what self-care for reals means to you.
Now I’d like to share some of what we do in therapy that you can use to start a conversation with yourself or your daughter (or both!) about self-care.
We have a group called Sunday Scaries No More, using Sunday as a day to map out (or remind ourselves about) our self-care plan for the upcoming week. We’ve created some fun downloads you can use to do the same!
The first one is for girls 13 and under—or anyone who likes to pretend they’re a girl 13 or under, though personally you could not pay me to go back to the bad perm and insecurities of seventh grade. On this worksheet, there are hearts to fill in with ideas for how to care for your mind, body, and emotions. There are also two boxes where you can write down supportive people in your life and songs that speak to you (mine includes my current favorite Taylor Swift song, “Bejeweled”). Click here for the self-care download.
The second worksheet was created with teens, young adults, and moms in mind. The hearts are there again, with specific prompts for getting you started. At the bottom is space for lists, including an emotional to-do list (write down ways you can regulate big emotions when they come up) and a list called called “Get ’er done” (I like to write down things to take care of, including things I’ve been procrastinating or avoiding, like going to the dentist). Click here for the self-care download.
Of course, taking care of mind, body, and heart will look different for everyone. Fill one of these worksheets out with your own version of support and offer yourself some self-care for reals this week!
Wanna learn more about our summer Courage Camps for ages 4th-8th grade…click here!