“Milk makes your bones stronger.”
“Spinach will give you muscles like Popeye.”
“An apple a day will keep the doctor away.”
As a young sprout, each of the above elementary colloquialismswere ingrained into my memory by my ever-present and persistent grandmother. Looking back, I remember being sofocused on the content and ignoring the concept.
As a teenager, I remember phrases such as:
“If you’re not home before 10, you won’t see the light outside of your room all weekend.”
“If you drink nothing but cola, your teeth are going to rot.”
“If you don’t finish washing the dishes, you’re eating a cold supper all week.”
Again, I learned to understand the impact of specific consequences of these actions, but I was simply not capable of comprehending the bigger picture. I began to associate individual rules with isolated consequences. Within the cozy confines of campus at Ironwood, we are making a consistent and comprehensive effort to not only encourage the practice of impeccable self-care, but also teaching on the widespread impact that each of our procedures and policies have in relation to this same, self-care. Our student’s daily routine Is structured around a productive and healthy approach to life that we hope will be transferred to our student’s environment, post Ironwood.
It all starts with consistency. You’ve all been made aware of the gauntlet of activities, groups, chores, etc. that our students are expected to participate in each week. Yet, on any given day and hour, I would guarantee that our students could not only share what is next on the agenda but would also be able to share what they will be doing tomorrow, and the next day on the same hour. This structure offers ample opportunity to be prepared both physically and mentally for what is ahead. Each student is expected to understand their projected day and prepare appropriately for it utilizing structure and routines.
Self-care is also easily translated into healthy life choices here on campus. Daily hygiene, appropriate advocation for medical attention, proper equipment for the task at hand, daily exercise, square meals and healthy portion sizes, drinking lots of water, and a good night’s rest. These simple and basic avenues to healthy living are required on campus, but it is the responsibility of the student to follow through with each of these expectations. When asked to explain their perceived progress of physical health from day one on campus to their current state, all of our students answer with pride while relating to the daily routine of self-care.
Emotional health also plays a critical role in one’s self-care. While each of our students are making incredible progress therapeutically, the residential program offers ample opportunity to support self-care emotionally as well. On of the most pertinent suggestions of a Mental Health America article title, Taking Good care of Yourself, talks about the importance of Working toward goals. As you are well aware, each of our students are putting forth an admirable effort in regards to progression in their individualized goals. We support this process by focusing on areas of achievement and constructive criticism and with the development of creative strategies and tools. Every day on campus I make an effort to inquire about students progress in their goals. I allow a space for them to share what they are working on, as well as what they have accomplished.
I wish that self-care was as easy as finishing all your vegetables before dessert, or not sitting so close to the TV. We are aware that self-care is ingrained in every single aspect of our day both externally and internally. We all have to make a conscious effort to hold ourselves accountable to positive, productive, and healthy decisions. We are proud to be able to support each of the vital avenues of self-care with our students on a daily basis and hope that eventually these habits become as engrained as my grandmother’s old-time advice.
Thank you for putting your trust in Ironwood and we hope you have a great weekend.