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Intentional Self-Care: Establishing Healthy Boundaries This Winter

I remember when I first got divorced and how I would take such good care of myself. I would take myself on regular dates and buy myself flowers regularly. This was on top of all the other things I did consistently to stay on top of my mental and physical health (i.e. practice yoga, eat healthy and journal.) 

But, somewhere along the way I stopped dating myself. Truth is, self-care requires time, energy and commitment. I was genuinely in a committed relationship with myself—focusing on really getting to know myself and intentionally placing myself in proximity to things that gave me joy. I was offering to myself all the things I would expect inside of a healthy relationship.

As I began to date, I placed that responsibility in someone else’s hands. If they didn’t offer, then I didn’t go. If they didn’t buy flowers, I didn’t have any. My relationship with myself was disrupted,  and my intentional self-care was reduced. I only had so much energy.

Engaging in Restorative Relationships

Newton’s Law states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The energy I had begun to invest in entertaining others had to come from somewhere. Too often, this energy was subtracted from time set aside for self-care. 

I guess that isn’t a bad thing when engaging in restorative relationships—engagements where the energy I put forth was transferred to others, but restored. I think it’s OK to sacrifice a little “me time” to engage in interactions that restore me emotionally, mentally and physically. But the trouble starts when those interactions start to take more than they are willing to offer. Or better yet, when I am offering energy without proper boundaries.

Shanina Carmichael treats herself to a healthy dinner from Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Shanina Carmichael

I’m in the process of learning how to establish healthy boundaries around my energy, managing it efficiently to ensure that my self-care, home-management and goals don’t become compromised in my pursuit of companionship. Ideally, the type of relationship I am seeking will contribute energy to those areas, too.

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