How do you take care of yourself?

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How do you take care of yourself?

Categories: News

At YWCA Northeast Kansas, we believe in the importance of self- care, especially in times of increased stress and challenges (hello, pandemic!). Like the great Audre Lorde once said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  While self-care cannot serve as the end-all, be-all to healing, it is an essential part of refueling your mind, body, and spirit.

This year, we asked the 37 Women of Excellence honorees how they take care of themselves. Find their answers, and maybe a few ideas for yourself, below.

Image: California Coalition for youth

Why is Self Care important?

“I attempt to take care of myself by monitoring eating, sleeping and exercising patterns. Finding a balance between home life and career is difficult and requires an attentive mindset. I believe you can’t be productive in either role if you don’t maintain a healthy balance. The best thing I can do for myself is spend quality time with family and stay connected to friends and colleagues.”
-Rebecca Kramer, USD 345

“I am a self-care enthusiast. Secondary trauma is real, especially for those of us who work with survivors of crime. It is so important to listen to our bodies and take time for ourselves so we can continue our work. I take care of myself by listening to my favorite music, working in my garden, and therapeutic massages. I make sure to take time off just for myself so I can focus on stress relief and making sure I am well so I can care for others.”
-Kristen Czugala, Office of the Kansas Attorney General

“I think it is important for women to have their non-negotiables when it comes to self-care, because taking care of yourself ensures you are protecting your own well-being and creating the mental space to operate at your best self in both your personal and professional life.”
-Danielle Hall, Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program

“I make it a priority every day to take time for myself. I have worked really hard at enforcing boundaries for myself to leave work at work so I can take care of myself and my family. I find time to do things just for me, whether that’s reading a book or going for a walk. I also try to set a good example for colleagues and family. I firmly believe if you’re going to talk the talk you must walk the walk. And laughter, lots and lots of laughter.”
-Jessica Lehnherr, United Way of Greater Topeka

“At this phase of my life, I think I understand more than I ever have before the importance of maintaining a healthy balance in my life and taking good care of myself. I am learning I have to let go of some really good things in order to have the energy to address some “mission critical” things in either my work or my personal life and consider myself to be a ‘work in progress’ with this process. Some weeks I do a better job at this than others!”
-Reva Wywadis, Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas

“Life is about balance. Too much or too little of anything is a secret to a healthy life. I try to adhere to that motto where family, friends, work and exercise all are shared equally. Sustaining this balance is difficult and sometimes impossible when you get caught in an issue that you are passionate about or life gives you no choice but to push yourself harder. After those periods I try to allow myself to get a break and go somewhere different where I can recharge and refocus.”
-Yana Ross, Farm Bureau Financial Services

Family Time


“Watching and cheering my kids on and their teammates at any of their sporting events have always been one my most favoriteactivities. Win or lose, seeing them push through hard odds while sometimes winning and other times falling short and watching them learn how much grit they have makes my heart happy. It is very challenging to turn my brain off or at least quiet the ideas that flood it as well. Movies have been a favorite escape, sneaking in a pedicure or an occasional massage have also been glorious moments of rest. These all have been lacking during COVID. But quiet time with just my husband is my favorite place of all.”
-Alisha Delgado, MA, CCC-SLP, Shawnee County Infant-Toddler at TARC

“The past year and a half has been especially challenging at work. Early on in the pandemic, my husband took over grocery shopping and cooking to give me more time to focus on FSGC’s COVID response. This allowed me to come home and relax for a little bit every night. To maintain balance, I spend time with my family binging Netflix, playing games, and going to the lake. I also started Weight Watcher’s last year and have focused on healthy eating and weight loss/getting in shape. So far I have lost a little over 40 pounds.”
-Tracy Kihm, Family Service & Guidance Center

“I spend time with my husband, Bob, and dog, Jake (from State Farm). We take walks together, play in the yard, and snuggle together. We love when our children and grandchildren can join us for cookouts, game night, story time, and exploring Yia-Yia’s ‘secret garden.'”
-Laura Sidlinger, DNP, Valeo Behavioral Health Care

“I have learned that listening to music, taking walks, and just have quiet rest are actions that help me relax. But my heart is filled when I am simply in my home with my husband and children; that fills my energy bucket.”
-Lyn Rantz, Ed.D, Topeka Collegiat School

“Me” Time

“In my free time, I like to engage in creative endeavors such as baking, cross-stitch, and painting. My job as an attorney doesn’t afford me much creativity, so it’s a great way for me to use a different part of my brain and unwind. I also enjoy listening to true crime podcasts, but that doesn’t help me unwind as much. My husband says it makes me jumpy, but I think that’s partly his fault for constantly sneaking up on me.”
-Alison Pollock, Security Benefit

“I take the time to notice my breathing to destress and simply slowdown. I listen to music, eat healthier and spend time alone enjoying my own company.”
-Michelle Cuevas Stubblefield, Greater Topeka Partnership

“I am a reality show junkie. It helps me escape. I also love to bake and cook from scratch and share with my family and friends.”
-Rosa Cavazos, Greater Topeka Partnership

“Taking care of my family relaxes me. Fortunately, for me I have a large family, if I can be helping any of them with anything, then I’m happy.”
-Jennifer Vance, Envista Credit Union

“One of the simplest ways I practice self-care is by retreating to my backyard swing, a place where I can turn off the noise of life and just “be.” Sometimes I sit with my coffee and enjoy the silence (although there are typically the sounds of birds chirping and dogs barking somewhere), calming my inner self before facing whatever is next in my day. Other times I listen to music, read or pray.”
-Reva Wywadis, Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas

“For me I love to escape into a book and lose myself in the location, storyline and characters. It also helps that my friend Joanne bought me a wine straw that fits into a full bottle to use at the beginning of remote schooling…”
-Ashley Charest, Junior Achievement of Kansas

Connect with Your Community

“I love to exercise and surround myself with fun friends. A good belly laugh can really make a wonderful difference.”-Tammy Dishman, Capitol Federal Foundation

“I am surrounded by an amazing support system! No matter how hard we try, we can’t do it all. Having those to support you even when you don’t realize you need it is a blessing. I also appreciate my “happy places” to rest and rejuvenate.”
-Mindy Hardenbrook, Corefirst Bank & Trust


“Serving in organizations is how I take care of myself. I get to share and feed off the energy of others and feel ignited and inspired.”
-Angel Zimmerman, Zimmerman & Zimmerman, P.A.

“I practice self care, which includes taking time for myself, enjoying my friends, and community. My FAVORITE thing I’m a part of in the community right now is Forge. It’s mission to make Topeka a place where all young talent want to live, work, play, connect, and lead resonates brings me great joy. There’s something for everyone. I’ve recently become invested in the health herd because I believe good mental and physical health matter.”
-LeTiffany Obozele, City of Topeka

Pencil It In

“I am a firm believer in protected me time. I schedule time for restoration. In that time, I shop, have spa days and spend time with people whom I have a nurturing relationship with.”

“I find I need to specifically schedule self-care into my life or it will not happen. I do this by having 30 minutes or so each night in my room, by myself, that is my ‘me time’. During that time I don’t need to worry about being productive, worry what the kids are doing, think about my list of action items for the next day. I just get to spoil myself with 30 minutes of true crime, crafting, reading, whatever I feel like.”
-Lacey Bisnett, Advisors ExcelFinite Capacity Scheduling for Manufacturing Production Management

“I’m trying to be better about taking time for myself to do things I enjoy, like reading a book, taking a bike ride, swimming, or simply taking some quiet time to clear my head.”
-Maggie Doll, Kansas Department of Transportation

“I take care of myself by taking lunch breaks whenever I possibly can. I’ve learned I’m healthier when I take a break and step away from my duties to clear my head. Working from home tricked me into working from sun up to sundown but I realized I was not creating healthy boundaries and was burning myself out. This doesn’t help me be a good wife, parent or leader. I also LOVE to read and you can usually find me with my nose in a book in the early mornings and late nights– and honestly maybe even at a stoplight, if it’s a book I truly can’t put down!”
-Lindsay Freeman, Kansas Gas Service

“I am always my best mentally and physically when I make it a priority to work-out and I also make sure that every night I give myself time to decompress from the day.”
-Brianne Johnson, Security Benefit

“I have days where I disconnect from my community work and focus on my family and myself. Whether it be spa days, travel, dinner dates with family and friends or cooking at home while watching movies.”
-Ariane Davis, Midwest Venom

Faith & Spirituality

“I nurture my inner spirit by listening to the quiet; taking time to love myself mentally, by reading good books and literature; spiritually by following in my divine voice; and physically by resting, eating well and caring for my body. The best part of caring for myself is sharing these things with others.”
-Sherri Camp, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

“This has been a great opportunity for me to pursue my spiritual path. It is a perfect time to read the wisdom of great teachers, practice silence and meditation. The result of that is a measure of peace, inspiration, and creativity.”
-Connie Mason Michaelis, Just Now Old Enough

“My favorite self care activity is going somewhere in nature like the lake, with a spirit of thankfulness, and focusing on the sounds of the water, the wind dancing through the leaves, the birds singing, and of course this year the cicadas. Being out in nature is grounding and uplifting for me even on some of the most challenging days it revives my spirit and steadies my heart. I also love to sit on my covered porch during a rain storm to read or write. There is something about writing that can bring healing and inspiration.”
-Lesleigh Hodam, Derrick Hodam Farm Bureau Financial Services

“I am a person of Christian faith. I have a daily devotional I read and mediate on. I get my cup filled through my Adult Sunday School class as a participant, Zoom technician, and teacher. I love livestream worship with my church family.”
-Laura Sidlinger, DNP, Valeo Behavioral Health Care

“Listening to that inner compass and respecting my needs and limits is extremely important. Spending time with animals and in nature helps me restore balance.”
-Gillian Chadwick, Washburn University School of Law

Love Your Body

“I am very fortunate that I am healthy and can live an active lifestyle. I’m grateful that I can use exercise as a physical tool and as a mental clarity booster. From a young age, I was taught to get up and get busy. I am what some would refer to as the dreaded “morning person.” I enjoy my early mornings either for workouts or for the quiet, reflective time before the world gets into my space.”
-Crista McPherson, The MCP Group

“I regularly have dance parties in the kitchen with my daughters.”
-Lauren Tice Miller, Kansas State Treasurer’s Office

“Jazzercise has been an important part of my life since college. I love that time to exercise, meet friends, and have fun. I wish I could say a deep meditation practice, or something else that feel more evolved is my saving grace, but an hour working out to pop music is what sets me right!”
-Stefanie Olson, Kansas Department of Health and Environment

“Exercising regularly is one of the most important things I do to help take care of myself. It helps me with so many things and is a great stress reliever. I strive to eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep to have a good start to the day. I also like to spend time with friends who always make me feel important and are there whenever I need them.”
-Ann Shelton, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas

“During the past year I took the opportunity to recommit to my own health and well-being. Long days and higher stress early in the pandemic were certainly a catalyst for renewing a focus on healthy eating, regular exercise and a good night’s sleep. I do make time for fun and relaxation with my family and friends. And I enjoy photography and gardening. Balance is important.”
-Tracy O’Rourke, Stormont Vail Health

“Working out is definitely my therapy regiment, along with making time to hang with friends and volunteer in the community. I’ve made it my priority to do what makes me happy. I love to workout and help others strive towards becoming the best version of themselves. I enjoy volunteering because now I have friends who’ve turned into family. When you find your happiness, you find your peace. Another thing I’ve learned is in order to take care of yourself, maintaining your mental health is significant. I’ve also made it my priority to unplug from social media and anything else that I feel has majority of my attention. It’s important to treat my off days with care in order for me to be able to function at my fullest capacity.”
-Danielle Martin, WIBW

“I exercise, eat healthy (most of the time), read, and take my dogs out for walks.”
-Amanda Wilwert, Foulston Siefkin LLP

“It is important to make self-care a priority, so my one non-negotiable is starting my day off with uninterrupted time for physical exercise. For me, this time is not only good for my physical health, but it is also good for my mental health. It is a time when I can clear my mind of all the clutter and get centered. It is also a time for me to let go and release the stresses of my day or week.”
-Danielle Hall, Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program