What Is Self-Care? (And 10 Tips To Doing It In Denver)

Hi Everyone!

+++Please note, everything talked about here, is because I love it, and spent my own money on it. Nothing has been sponsored or comped. The is no money or incentives provided to me to write/post this!

This post got waaaaaay too long for an instagram post, so thanks for coming over here!  First things, first, a disclaimer: I am not a doctor, please check with your doctor before you use any of these tips!  

Secondly, some of this is very personal, so excuse any grammatical errors, I’m typing and going to publish this FAST, so I don’t lose my nerve!  That said, you are welcome to  skip “my personal ramp-up” and just go to the list of suggestions!

OFF WE GO!

What is self-care? To me, as I understand it, it’s sort of like the Oprah advice I’ve heard oft repeated, to think about when a plane is in distress, how the oxygen masks come down, you can’t really help someone, unless you first put the oxygen mask on yourself.  So in short, you need to take care of yourself, truly, before you can care for others.  If you’re looking for a more detailed definition, I REALLY like this article from Psychology Today.

WHO NEEDS SELF-CARE?

Y’all better be raising your hands, cuz, we all need it. FULL STOP!

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU SHOULD START A SELF-CARE ROUTINE?

This is where I’m going to get personal. I honestly feel like for me, something big is about to break if I don’t start enforcing some boundaries and putting some of my needs first.  I work full time, and 1000 Things takes, easily, another 20 hours, sometimes more. I will say this, I think the best time to start a self-care routine is WHEN YOU FEEL GREAT!  Why? Because when you feel terrible or burned out, it’s hard to start good habits. Now, that’s just my opinion, for me — I would have been so much better off if I started this a year ago instead of, say, now, where I feel incredibly exhausted and burned out.

The beautiful room at The Ritz Bachelor Gulch

WHY I’M TALKING ABOUT THIS NOW

I am in my 3rd worst cycle of insomnia. Here’s some context of the first two times:  1)  Out of thousands of applicants, I was chosen to be in a script writing program for a major Hollywood studio.  Sounds pretty great right? Especially since our mentors were famous sitcom writers, and the program was known to place newbie writers on their first TV show, as a writer.  EXCEPT, I needed to work a 12 hour day Monday-Friday as a writer’s assistant and then write scripts late, late into the night and weekends.  If you didn’t have your assignments done by Wednesday, you were done.  I’d say 90% of the class took a leave from their jobs, that’s how big this opportunity this was.  I could go 4 whole nights without sleep, not even Ambien helped!

My second time with insomnia, was when my Dad was sick. We 100% never saw it coming that he could have passed away from life-saving surgery, which he had had, successfully, two other times. Now I secretly wonder if my body knew.  I couldn’t sleep, my stomach was sick and in knots for a month before he passed away and s much longer, after.  (“knots” I’m saying, because I refuse to be more descriptive than that, for your sake, lol, but let’s just say, you can read between the lines there.).

And NOW!  Last week, over the course of 4 nights, I had 8 hours sleep. I used products like THC, CBD, even got my doc to write a prescription. But just like when the Ambien didn’t work, nothing is presently working.

That’s a long-winded ramp up to why I got DEEP into reading about self-care.

HERE ARE MY SELF-CARE TIPS!

Shift Cycle

1. SHAKE THAT BOOTY – Everyone I have mentioned my insomnia to, has mentioned that REALLY killing it at the gym is incredibly helpful to their bouts of insomnia. Here are some ideas, of where I like to sweat:

a) Orange Theory in the Highlands. What surprised me when I started, was how hard I’d sleep at night. I just re-upped my member ship Don’t be intimidated by this super-challenging workout – you can scale it to your ability (ie, walk on the treadmill, rather than run, use lighter weights, until you’re ready).

b) If you love spin, try Epic Ryde. I just profiled their Karaoke Spin, which looks SO FUN! Plus they have a 1/2 spin 1/2 TRX class which will really get the sweat going!  They are doing a 5 classes for $25 in their RiNo studio, so that’s a crazy-inexpensive way to check them out

c) Fierce 45 – You move a lot faster than a regular pilates class, I recommend this for someone who wants to be challenged but perhaps. doesn’t love running or tough, tough cardio (or has an injury or is pregnant). I find Fierce 45 is the best at getting out of my head (I get a ton of mental health benefits for any workout, I just mean, in the moment of the class, I find it quite zen.)  BONUS: If you volunteer desk hours at Fierce 45, you can get classes for free, in exchange. Contact them about that!  Want more info on these workouts? I wrote about them here.

2. RANCHO RELAXOAm I the only person that remembers when Marge Simpson went to the spa, lol Now, if you can’t afford a trip to the spa, google “candle lit yoga” or “restorative yoga.” These are two of the MOST relaxing classes I have ever taken!  Here’s one from RiNo Yoga Social.

3. GET A MASSAGE – This has always helped me IMMENSELY.  I just went for one this past week and was told by the masseuse that it felt like she was massaging, “a back made out of rocks.”  NOT GOOD! Here are my 3 favorite spots for a massage (starting with the least expensive):

If you’re in Beaver Creek, the Spa at The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch is not to be missed!

a) When I first moved here, I didn’t have a job and I was trying to be careful with my savings, as the whole first, last and security can be a daunting amount of money to hand over.  I was excited to have found Denver Integrative Massage School. It’s as exactly as it sounds, they are a school, teaching their students, and you get to get a massage there for a VERY deep discount (it’s $32 for a 1 hour massage and $38 for a 90 minute massage!) Now, there are some downsides:  You don’t know who you will get and what kind of skill level they will have, so I had one AMAZING massage and one, that was, I guess okay, if you just want something relaxing (to me it’s not relaxing to feel like you’re not getting your kinks worked out).

What I would probably do, if I go back is email ahead and ask who is great at deep tissue; another downside, you need to book waaaay in advance as everyone wants in on this deal, that can be tough if you’re freelance like me; the other downside, at least for some people, could be that you are laying on a floor mat (it’s comfortable) with all the other people getting massages, that hour. (Though you are fully clothed).This didn’t bother me, to be honest  BONUS:  At the time I went, Denver Integrative Massage School  also offered deeply discounted facials, peels and other skin services.  I loved my facial, with extractions!

b) Indulgences Day Spa – This is close to where I live, and I visited the first time, because of all the five star Yelp reviews. Every massage therapist there has been A+++++.  I like deep tissue, if you like another style, tell them when you make the appointment and they will march you with someone perfect. It’s $80 an hour and they do have a steam room and sauna, and additionally, Indulgences Day Spa is very clean and updated.

c) The Spa at the Four Seasons –  The best deal you can get is the Happy Hour special – you get two 25 minute treatments for $119. Here’s why this Four Seasons treat is worth the indulgence:  They have a hot tub which a lot of spas don’t have. Also, you can hang out at the Four Season’s pool before and after your treatment!  Time by a pool just is such a luxury and it leads to me carving out more time to relax, after my treatment.  I feel sooooo much more productive and sleep better after a day here!

4. GET HELP FROM A PROFESSIONAL – I’m only talking about what I’m doing, for myself. But if this section helps you, that’s awesome. When I was a TV writer, the whole staff, including the men, had a therapist. Some jokingly said that it felt self-indulgent, others saw it as a way to be an excellent writer, after all, if they knew themselves better, they could understand character motivations. I went, mostly, to deal with the INSANE pressure of the job (more on that another time) and the complicated situation I found myself in, dating someone on the show, who needed a ton of support, as his mother way dying.

Finding a therapist can be so daunting – but I do believe the help and perspective they can give is so invaluable. If you’re looking for someone:

a) Consider asking friends for referrals or ask your doctor for a referral

b)  If you are not insured, consider contacting  a university that makes part of their program, speaking with a student who is working on their degree to become a therapist.  (Regis University has one).

5. SAYING “NO”:WILL SET YOU FREE  – Part of my self-ca re is slowing down. I don’t say an immediate “yes” to anything, anymore.  Breaking the habits of being a people-pleaser is tough work. So saying, “I need to think about it,” and really committing to 24 hours before I answer gives me so much more perspective (and it’s A LOT less stressful to say “no” when you haven’t already said “yes.”). This has been a game changer for me. (It doesn’t mean I wasn’t on the phone with a chef, opening a new spot, at 1:00am on Saturday, brainstorming ideas… I’m working on it!)

 I also stopped (over a year ago or more) going to events, (the year before that, I cut down significantly only going to 4 events of the over 200 I was invited to). At the end of an 8/10 hour work day, I just don’t have more to give.  I want to enjoy my city, my friends, see a band, or have the option to write a website post or build a post (you’d be surprised how long that can take, sometimes up to 2 hours, 3-5 if I visit the business and take my own photos) – this gives more back to you, and me, than going somewhere to try samples of food. I also don’t like the pressure of having to say THIS IS SO AMAZING, LOOK AT ME HOLDING MY DINNER PLATE  IN THE AIR!!! (Also, not making fun of anyone, I’ve done that pose with my dinner plate, a ton of times! ) This, unfortunately the deal you make when you accept free food – you have to say it’s spectacular – I don’t want that stress. Nope, no thanks.  Learning to say no to  things that don’t serve me, or you, has also been a game-changer..

6. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF – Carving out time for myself has been INVALUABLE. I can sometimes feel like I’m going to suffocate from the emails and DMs I receive… I actually love talking to you guys, there’s no issue there, it’s just all the other emails and DMs can cause a lot of pressure/expectations. Some people don’t realize I have a full time job, or that it’s just me, here… .  Here’s what I’m doing to avoid stress:

a)  I drive off to Evergreen, Silver Plume (Bread Bar or the coffee shop), Georgetown, sometimes just Red Rocks.  Connecting with nature gets my head and heart right. I’ve made it my goal to do this 2x a month, and it feels like it’s turning into a habit now. If you go into the Adventure and Travel section of the website you’ll see tons of ideas for hiking, things to do with your dog, SUP and kayaking, hot springs and more. Additionally, I put two adventures a week on my Facebook page.

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The stables at Snow Mountain Ranch… my happy place!

b) Animals!  I love animals and being around them.  Some of my favorite places to visit them are Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby (horses), Broken Shovels (animal sanctuary), and Denver Cat Company, which is right on Tennyson, you can play with rescued, and adoptable cats, for a $10 donation. You can also do yoga with shelter cats, aka, Cats on Mats: check it out here, goes til the end of September.

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Less fried cheesey deliciousness in 2020, for me!

7.  EAT YO VEGGIES – Eating right. Okay, this is getting looooong. But when I’m not eating right, I feel like crap. I recently called Grub Hub, sure someone had broken into my account, because I couldn’t believe the amount of takeout lunches that were on my account. Nope, not stolen, just me.  Now I’m dedicated to not only making as many meals as I can at home but making it a goal of a fruit or veggie with every meal. It’s not about weight loss or dieting, just making a small adjustment to my plate so I’ll have more energy and stamina. I find shopping the Farmer’s Market at Union Station, on Saturdays, means I can prep on Sunday and set myself up for success, the rest of the week. The Farmer’s Market runs until the end of October, from 9am-2pm!

8. NEEDLE ME THIS aka ACUPUNCTURE IS AMAZING – When I was having my insomnia, while working in Hollywood, everyone talked about this “acupuncturist to the stars” Dr.  Mao (I guess he had been talked about on Sex & The City and got a crazy following). I went to him, and after a consultation, he sent me to the MOST talented acupuncturist I have ever met (remember, I was in a terrible accident before I moved here, nearly broke the whole right side of my body and sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury). Except, by the time I had the accident, my acupuncturist had moved… to Colorado!

I was so attached to him, he could make me fall asleep on command with just a few pokes(!), that when I heard he was moving, not only did I bawl my eyes out, but I considered flying out here, just for one session! I was so desperate to be pain free. So, this talented acupuncturist, his name is Dr. Ban Wong. He has an office in Aurora but I can only find a phone number for it, not the office name:  here is the phone number – (303) 968-7599. Last I googled, he was taking appointments from a second office, here in Denver. Can’t find it now, but I think he’s incredible and worth the drive!

9. SHAKE IT OFF aka WHY I LOVE TO JOURNAL –  Ever done it? My journal is neither Pinterest or Instagram-worthy – I just buy composition books in bulk – but it helps so much. There was a time I’d write every day and those daily “mind-dumps” helped with two things: 1) Just getting all the toxic junk out of your head, negative thoughts, etc – put any sadness, anger or stress on that page and it’s out of you! 2) Journaling has helped me see patterns that don’t work for me anymore… if you see patterns that don’t serve you, you can change them!

10. NO NEGATIVE SELF-TALK – I come from a long line of work-a-holics who beat themselves up (after having impossible standards for themselves.) I admire what a bad ass my Mom is, she not only started taking care of a very sick husband in her mid-thirties but SHE FOUGHT LIKE HELL when an insurance company tried to drop my Dad rather than give him an organ transplant. That said, we were taught to go balls to the wall with our careers and to help people along the way (my Mom taught blind people to ice skate and brought meals to the sick in our church). It’s so hard to break a pattern that’s been modeled for you. The fact is, with a full time job and 1000 Things, I feel like I have 2 full time jobs and that won’t stop anytime soon. But what I can do, is not be so tough on myself, to let go a little, to ask for help. But MOSTLY, I’d like to, stop the negative self-talk – you know when you beat yourself up over something so small? I ask myself if I would speak to my pup, a young child or my baby nephews that way… I am a work in progress on this one.

11. ADD SOME FUN TO THE GRIND –  I work a lot on the weekends, it’s the only way to keep up. So I do try to go to a different coffee shop each time. Getting out of my office makes it feel less like work. Other times, I’ll go to a beautiful bar, maybe even with an incredible view, and work the rest of the day/night.

12. CHOOSE JOY – What really makes you happy? Brings a smile to your face? Do that!  Some of those things for me are:

a) Getting  a manicure

b) Blast 90s pop and bounce on my rebounder

c) Go to the dog park!  Seeing all those happy fur kids is so invigorating

d) Going to a new workout class… lots of places offer a free week, or a free drop in for the first time. If you love it, join, if it’s not for you, try another!

e) Take a bubble bath!  My favorite thing and the best way I know how to put the damn cell phone down!

f) “Go be with someone who loves you” – my Mom always says this to me when I’m having a hard time… and it works!  I think also, by asking friends for help, it deepens our friendship, and gives them confidence to lean on me when they need it.

g)) – Volunteering always gets me out of my head.  Who would you like to volunteer for?  There’s every opportunity out there – from creating art with sick kids, to socializing animals at an animal shelter. You can cook meals for the sick, or you could even do a coat drive for the homeless in your office!  Do something you’ll feel good about and fits with your schedule, and it will pay you back 100 fold!

h) Going to see a band. Looking for one can be a bit time consuming but I usually have luck at the small venues like Larimer Lounge, Globe Hall and Lost Lake.  I’ll  just put the band’s name in the search bar on Youtube and if I like their music, I buy the tickets!

I hope some of these ideas help you!  The point is not to put pressure on yourself to implement them all at once. The takeaway, I hope, is to be good to yourself!  And again, if you have an amazing nutritionist, acupuncturist, yoga class you love, etc, please share in the comments of my latest post, so everyone can benefit!  xox Kayla

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