Self-Care Calendar Challenge for Survivors

‘Self-care. What’s that? You want me to stop what I’m doing to do something for me? No one else benefits? Something for my wellness. Mental wellness. Emotional wellness. Physical wellness. Spiritual wellness. This is a joke, right? I cannot possibly find time to look after myself. I don’t even know where to start! I have too many other things to do. Others need me. I have to do x, y, AND z before I can even think about a self-care challenge…’

Raise your hand if this internal dialogue sounds familiar. 

A few years ago, I used to cringe when others talked about self-care. To me, self-care felt elaborate, expensive and like something I was unable to attain because, in my head, self-care was defined as sitting on the beach, reading a book, or taking a hot bubble bath. I was not in a position to execute any of those things. My priority was to help others. I was conditioned to prioritize relationships with others before my relationship with myself. Truthfully, I didn’t know how to have a relationship with myself. Self-care was not part of my world or something I felt the need to learn. And a self-care challenge felt indulgent and selfish.  

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”

– Mandy Hale

Time, Effort, and Consistency

The concept of self-care can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Goals are easier to accomplish when kept simple. In an effort to keep things as simple as possible, let’s talk about three things: time, effort and consistency.

Time: There are 1440 minutes in a day. Fourteen minutes is roughly one percent of your day. Can you find 14 minutes of each day to do something you enjoy? Seems easy enough, right? If you are anything like me, it was very difficult to find an unused 14 minutes of my day, so I started by saying NO to things. Eventually, I created space for 14 minutes throughout my day. Let’s find areas of our life where we can say NO to something. Saying NO to others is sometimes saying YES to ourselves. It’s a way to take back our power. Can you commit to 14 minutes/day? If yes, check out our Self-Care Challenge.

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”

– Etty Hillesum

Effort: Breaking cycles can be fun. Creating new habits can also be fun. Life can be so much fun. The relationship we have with ourselves is the most important relationship we will ever have. Embracing a self-care journey is going to feel awkward but we created a fun 30-day Self-Care Challenge to help you navigate the month. Can you make a daily commitment to something? If yes, check out our Self-Care Challenge.

“Small hinges swing big doors.”

– W Clement Stone

Consistency: Thirty days might seem like a very long time. Our challenge was created to make it fun, reflective and easy to execute. The secret ingredient to living our best life is consistency. Can you commit to something for 30 days? If yes, check out our Self-Care Challenge.

30-day Self-Care Challenge

Stage 1: Prep (complete the sentence)

Day 1: I define self-care as:

Day 2: Having a consistent self-care practice would make me feel __________ about myself.

Day 3: Reflecting on my current life, the habits/decisions/people; Doing _____________ makes me feel bad about myself. Doing _______________ makes me feel good about myself.

Day 4: Look in the mirror and declare: I AM WORTHY OF THE SAME LOVE I GIVE TO OTHERS.

Stage 2: Say NO

Day 5 – 14: Each day, for 10 days, I will say NO to one thing that makes me feel bad about myself. Need help? Here are 50 ways to say NO.

Day 15: I feel ________________ about saying NO.

Stage 3: Say YES

Day 16-25: Each day, for 10 days, I will say YES to one thing that makes me feel good about myself. Need help? My self-care secret: play my favorite song on repeat until I feel those good vibes flowing. Sometimes, my self-care say YES moment is simply me dedicating a song to myself, on repeat. Otherwise, feel free to check out this list from Tiny Buddha. 

Day 26: I feel _______________ about saying YES.

Stage 4: Reflect

Day 27: _____________ was the easiest part of the month. _____________ was the most challenging. Overall, this challenge was ____________ than I expected.

Day 28: Saying  NO / YES was easier because __________________________________. 

Day 29: I write a THANK YOU letter to myself. I address the letter to the person I was just before doing this challenge. I redefine my perspective on self-care. Let’s be honest, I’ve learned so much in the last few weeks. I thank myself for embracing the challenge.

Day 30: Look in the mirror and read the thank you letter.

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

– Jean Shinoda Bolen

Rinse and Repeat

Now that you have completed the 30-day Self-Care Challenge, are you ready to do it again for another 30 days? (PLEASE SAY YESSSSS)! We are cheering for you!

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.


Share Your Story

Sharing our stories can be incredibly empowering while also helping others connect with survivors who have similar experiences. If you are inspired to share your story with us, submit here. You can choose to remain anonymous.

You can also donate to BTSADV here.

Overcoming Negative Self-Talk

We all have an inner voice that helps guide us in our daily lives. This inner voice is like a soliloquy in a play – an inner monologue. This inner monologue can be positive and negative self-talk. How we use it in our daily lives is crucial to our overall well-being.

But when we have been in an abusive situation, it’s difficult to overcome the negative pattern that we are in. We are so used to hearing so many negative things from our abusers. What are some of the types of negative self-talk? How do we overcome them?

Types of negative self-talk 

There are several types of negative self-talk. Five of those are listed below:

  • Personalization – Personalization is the automatic feeling that everything is our fault. This was ingrained in us from the get-go. The abusers purposely told us, “It’s your fault.” When we are told something often enough, we begin to believe it. Even when we are out of our situations, we still believe it. We believe that no matter what we do, everything is our fault.
  • Overgeneralization – This bad habit tells us that one bad thing happens, bad things will happen all the time. We make blanket statements to apply to the our entiere lives. I know I began to think that all men were like my ex and that I’d never find anyone to love.
  • Magnification – This is the feeling we get when we take our own flaws and mistakes and amplify them tenfold. It’s like the old phrase “making mountains out of molehills.” We greatly exaggerate moments or events in our lives.
  • Minimization – Minimization is the complete opposite of magnification and it occurs when we dismiss our strengths and talk down about ourselves. I know I’ve been guilty of this one quite often since the ex discarded me. We might be successful at work for several months in a row, maybe even obtaining Employee of the Month during that time. But in that fourth month, we make a few small mistakes and think, “Oh I’m such a failure. Why did they even hire me?” This pattern of thinking keeps us in a vicious cycle of negative thinking that prevents us from celebrating our accomplishments and achievements.
  • Emotional reasoning – This is the habit of letting our hearts and feelings control our decision-making process. We let our emotions dictate what we should and should not do, instead of using our intellect to direct us.

How to overcome

I am nearly 10 years out of my situation and I still struggle with negative self-talk from time to time. It’s difficult to get out of the habit. It’s not a good habit to be in. So how do we overcome it?

First and foremost, it takes practice and lots of it. We need to make a conscious choice every day to change that negative thought pattern into a positive one. It’s going to be a rough road to overcoming this pattern, especially if you’ve spent an elongated period of time with the abuser. But you can do it – it just takes practice.

The following tips can help you overcome your negative self-talk:

  • Change your mindset – The old phrase that goes, “It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it” applies here. Maybe you’re afraid to try something new because you’ve never done it before. Changing your mindset to think, “I’ll learn something new.” Turning a negative into a positive can have a wondrous effect on our overall well-being.
  • Change your inner monologue – We are so accustomed to talking to (and about) ourselves in a negative manner. I know my own thought processes and inner dialogue was rather judgmental and harsh. I had always been my own worst critic, and the ex knew this, so he amplified that to the extreme. It stands to reason that it’ll take us practice to change our inner monologue.
  • Validation – When you come across these negative feelings, just know that it’s okay to feel that way. Validate yourself. Try to not analyze every single emotion that comes across your path.
  • Mindfulness – Be aware of your feelings as they happen, but don’t dwell on them. Acknowledge your feeling, but let them move on.
  • Check your surroundings – Positivity begets positivity, so surround yourself with like-minded individuals. The more positive and uplifting people are in your life, the more apt you are to begin to feel more positive and encouraged to move forward and fuel your life in a more meaningful way.
  • Consider the source – This is something that my mother mentioned to me when helping me through a particularly rough moment in the aftermath of an encounter with the ex. When you begin to hear that negative self-talk, ask yourself: Where does all this come from? Why am I thinking this? When I asked myself these questions, I realized that this negativity all stemmed from things the ex has said to me in the past, and that is why the thought patterns continue.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Negative self-talk won’t miraculously turn into rainbows and butterflies. It takes time and practice. In time, your negative self-talk will begin to take on a more positive spin. You’ll begin to see change take place.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our support line advocates at 855-287-1777.


Share Your Story

Sharing our stories can be incredibly empowering while also helping others connect with survivors who have similar experiences. If you are inspired to share your story with us, submit here. You can choose to remain anonymous.

You can also donate to BTSADV here.

Survivor Sister Retreat: #CozyRetreat

By Jamey Sheesley

The Survivor Sister Retreat is designed for domestic violence survivors. The retreat offers survivors workshops to help encourage effective healing after trauma along with a sisterhood bond with other survivors.

I was invited to join the March 2020 retreat and immediately said yes, but as the time inched closer, I became nervous. I wanted to cancel and thought it might be too much to go through some of the workshops. I have been receiving help from my psychologist for years, so did not see where I could benefit. Let’s be honest, I was trying to think of an excuse not to go because I was scared to face some of those feelings I knew would come up during this retreat.

On the day of the retreat, I went to the airport to pick up two more sisters to join us. Many sisters had already canceled due to the threat of the coronavirus, which had also heightened my own stress level. I was heading into an airport where the virus could be lurking anywhere. As I sat waiting for the first sister, I faced much self-doubt. But as soon as I saw the first sister wearing her BTSADV hoodie, all my fears went out the window; I was glad that I did not cancel. We waited at the airport for around an hour for the next sister and once she arrived, we made our journey to Woodland Park, Colorado. I was born and raised in Colorado, so going to Woodland Park was not a big deal for me but seeing the reaction of my sisters to Colorado’s beauty was astounding. Mountains are symbolic of healing and I saw that through their reactions.

As soon as we got to the retreat, we learned that there would only be six of us since the rest could not make it due to the virus. At first, I will admit, I was upset. I did not think the experience would be full, but within the first night, I knew I was wrong. I knew the six of us would become extremely close.

Our first workshop was powerful and very emotional, but it was empowering. It was empowering to see how many sisters said “me too” to something I experienced. After this intense workshop, Mama Tammy prepared a wonderful meal for us and we were able to talk and get to know each other. I found that all of these sisters had amazing stories of survival and all were incredibly strong. I was nervous going in because I thought there would be judgment, but these sisters had no judgment to give, only love, prayers, and healing.

The next day was full of several insightful workshops and one tough workshop. The hardest workshop of the retreat included burning a letter. It was a spiritual experience to watch the relief in my sisters’ eyes as they watched their letters burn to ash. You could see them letting go of the hurt and trauma. After it was over we enjoyed hot chocolate and talked late into the night, developing deeper bonds.

Saturday brought on even more workshops, some of them again challenging and some of them exhilarating. By the end of Saturday, my soul felt a new sense of peace. I felt more relaxed and connected to the sisters around me. They are all beautiful and inspirational and have so much to give. Each one of those women has been destroyed but they found the courage to build their lives back. Through the trauma, they still have the compassion to find love again and the strength to help others.

“Our Survivor Sister Retreat has been life-changing for me. I met so many strong women [who have] inspired me to live my life to the fullest. These people will stay in my life for a very long time. I left Colorado and went back to my home state feeling stronger and feeling good about myself,” said Survivor Sister Angelica.

“I feel beyond blessed to know these women and be a part of this cause. We are warriors! The retreat proved that coronavirus be dammed! #cozyretreat,” said Survivor Sister Misty.

“Our sister retreat was more than just a four-day experience. I left changed! I learned a lot about myself, my healing and my journey. The women that I met and grew withspoke the same language. I’m sure we will be life-long friends that will continue to encourage and grow with,” said Survivor Sister Audria.

“It was so great to be in a safe place where I could grow and be with women who knew what I was going through without me even having to speak. I was able to overcome so much pain I have been carrying for 12 long years and I finally feel at peace,” said Survivor Sister Amanda.

Through many tears and laughter over silly things, we grew close. By the end of the retreat, I was happy that it was only six of us. I am glad the coronavirus and my own fears did not scare me off. These girls are truly amazing and I am so happy to have met all of them. Thank you to Mama Tammy, Mama Tara, Carolin, and Rosie for making the weekend perfect. All of you are amazing. Not even the coronavirus was able to stop our healing journey.

If you are feeling nervous about attending this retreat, I promise it is worth everything and more. You will come out of this retreat with peace, strength and a sisterhood bond that is stronger than ever. It was the most inspirational and healing experience that I have gone through.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.


Share Your Story

Sharing our stories can be incredibly empowering while also helping others connect with survivors who have similar experiences. If you are inspired to share your story with us, submit here. You can choose to remain anonymous.

You can also donate to BTSADV here.

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