Here at Peak and Valley, we have been interested in topics surrounding self-care/wellness. The term self-care specifically is starting to become an overused buzzword in marketing and news outlets. Separating out what self-care means for you personally means ignoring a lot of marketing jargon and messaging. We all have to remember that self- care doesn't have to be expensive or exclusive. Given that, we are introducing an interview series where we ask people what self-care and wellness mean to them. Here, we interview Leah Thomas, @GreenGirlLeah, wellness and environmental justice writer living in Santa Barbara, CA. She works full-time at a sustainable apparel company and, in her free time, writes on her blog.
How do you define self-care?
Self-care has grown in meaning for me over the years. Currently, self-care means doing things that nurture and nourish my soul. I have anxiety and I’ve stopped hoping one day I’d wake up without it or be “cured”, with self-acceptance I’ve found ways to manage it with a self-care routine that includes working out regularly, creating time to be creative and learn new things (like guitar and woodworking), finding community, strengthening supportive friendships and trying to create an imperfect, healthy-ish, lifestyle with good food and products. My goals have shifted, I don’t want to be cured of things about myself that I don’t like or things I can’t control, I just want to practice self-care so I can manage it and so the symptoms don’t impact my day as much.
There’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental wellness, but honestly, if someone had another chronic health condition no one would question their need to make lifestyle changes that support their physical health. I’ve adopted a similar outlook, one without shame, about taking time for myself unapologetically.
How do you start your day? If it differs from day to day, describe your ideal morning.
My days differ and I’m still working on a morning routine, but an ideal day for me would include yoga, a warm shower, tea, and a positive podcast (likely Oprah) to start the day.
What measures do you take when you feel off-balance/stressed?
When I feel stressed, I practice positive self-talk and self-soothing practices. I used to let my stress fester, but the body always keeps score and it’ll surface sometime later. When I feel off-balance, I acknowledge it and say to myself “Okay, I’m feeling this” and recognize the feelings that are present without shame or judgment. I remind myself that all feelings will pass and also ask what I need. If that means watching Netflix when I get home and not being social I’ll do it or if that means maybe I need to go on a run or to a yoga class, I’ll do that.
Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
I’ll be completely honest and candid with you. I live in a state where marijuana is legalized, so I do like to use before bed-time (not every day, but occasionally) typically with a tea, edible, or with flower. I’ll light the candles in my room and create a homey atmosphere with dimmed lights and I’ll put on my headphones and listen to a song that makes me feel powerful and I dance around my room a bit. After that, I have a smile on my face and feel comfortable in my skin, then I get to sleep! Occasionally I’ll watch a show, but I much prefer my night dance routine haha, as embarrassing as that is.
What is your idea of beauty? Internal, external, or both?
Beauty for me is mostly internal and that internal beauty radiates outwards. I think compassion is one of the most beautiful things in the world and when someone is compassionate and empathetic, that’s beauty in it’s purest form to me.
What is your philosophy around wellness?
My philosophy about wellness is, you must care for yourself in order to care for others properly. You must listen to your body and give it what it needs. Apply your love language to yourself and how you love yourself. Wellness is all about self-love and compassion, not the products that you buy or an ideal body. When you believe you’re worthy of love, respect, and overall peace of mind…this is when a true internal wellness journey can begin.
I live in Northwest Arkansas - I specifically call out the region because it’s a distinct part of the state, unlike the rest. I love it here - it gives me the progressive nature of a larger city with the comfort of community. There’s still opportunity for growth and change, so I’m happy to be a resident who can play a part in its future.