The Year of Self-care

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Mental-health professional Davia Roberts shares her top eight self-care tips.

By Saba Ghaffari, Photos by Destiny Goss

With 2018 officially underway, many of us are already working toward accomplishing our lengthy list of New Year’s resolutions. But in the midst of our enthusiasm and ambitious intentions, we may let self-care fall by the wayside. Mental-health counselor and wellness blogger Davia Roberts is a self-care advocate and believes the practice is essential to our daily routines.

“We do our jobs and we take care of others as well, and our self-care can essentially fall to the back burner,” Roberts says. “That’s where a lot of people get exhausted. You can be successful without burning yourself into the ground.”

After graduating in 2014 with a degree in educational psychology from the University of Texas, Roberts worked as a career counselor. And although she found her days fulfilling, she always knew she wanted to help women, specifically young women of color. This strong desire drove Roberts to create her wellness blog, Redefine Enough, which acts as a place for women to receive emotional support, create a community and feel inspired. Redefine Enough quickly grew popular, but Roberts still felt the desire to further serve young women. Thus, she launched her podcast, Affirm, and now hosts regular speaking engagements.

Finally fully immersed in her passion, Roberts also began volunteering at Capital Area Counseling, working exclusively with women on managing relationships, creating work/life balance and dealing with family stressors and trauma.

“OK, this is what I need to be doing,” Roberts says of her career. “This is what I’m on fire about.”

Roberts now works as a counselor at Safe Alliance, a resource center and shelter for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Roberts explains the aim of the organization is to provide an umbrella of services for survivors so they can re-establish life after living through a violent situation. In addition to providing individual and group counseling, as well as crisis-counseling services, Safe Alliance is also the home to Eloise House, a facility where sexual-assault survivors can get free forensic exams. The facility also provides shelter, long-term housing and legal services.

Even though she’s helping other women with their mental health and well-being, Roberts admits her profession does have an impact on her own mental and physical state.

“The reality is, you know, it is difficult,” Roberts says. “And so, I have to be so much more intentional about how I take care of myself and how I set boundaries so that I don’t get burnt out.”

Rather than reaching for a cocktail or heading to the spa, Roberts suggests incorporating the following eight tips into your self-care routine.

  1. Set boundaries. Be realistic about how much you can carry out in a given time frame. It’s important to make things practical for yourself so you don’t end up exhausted. Give yourself permission to rest, even if it’s just for a part of the day.
  2. Establish a morning or nighttime routine. It’s beneficial to have a practice that gently eases you into your day or allows you to unwind in the evening. Roberts personally sets her phone to do-not-disturb mode at 9 p.m. every evening, and does not take phone calls, emails or text messages after that time. The designated me time will allow you to disconnect, take a bath or read a book before going to bed. Roberts also suggests buying an alarm clock so the first thing you reach for in the morning is not your phone.
  3. Make a commitment to your self-care routine. Even if you can’t set aside an hour or even 30 minutes for self-care each day, try to incorporate it in some way. Make an appointment with yourself and don’t break it. Roberts suggests writing the appointment in your planner as “appointment with self-care” to encourage more accountability.
  4. Start journaling. Journaling has many advantages. For example, keeping a gratitude journal allows you a moment to check in with yourself each day and give thanks. Roberts adds that a journal can act as a supportive soundboard, a place where you can write down your feelings, free of judgment.
  5. See a counselor. You don’t have to be going through a crisis or have a mental illness to benefit from counseling. Roberts believes it’s a great way to figure out current patterns that you’re operating in and discover ways to live your best life.
  6. Move your body. You don’t have to be an athlete or avid yogi to move your body. Even a short walk will help release tension that has built up throughout the day.
  7. Embark on a social-media detox. Roberts highly suggests a detox, as social media can make people feel both competitive and insecure. The reality is we often don’t see the bad or the ugly, just others living the high life, which can leave us with feelings of frustration and inadequacy.
  8. Be honest about your needs and don’t be afraid to ask for help. By being honest about your needs, you give yourself permission to have those needs met, which is the very core of self-care. Roberts stresses this is the most important self-care tip of all.
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