On Self Care
As seen on the internet: "I love self care so much. Like, hell yeah, take your bubble baths. Light those candles. Moisturize you body, drink tea. Take a four hour nap to recharge. Think loving thoughts."
Mmm hmm... totally feeling this quote today. When we feel run down, bummed out or just a bit off we need to handle ourselves with care and love and engage in things that will make us feel BETTER. This almost never involves going out binge drinking, hanging out with people who aren't good to us or treating others poorly because we're having a bad time.
All of the ideas mentioned in the quote are wonderful. Other acceptable activities include: episodes of your favorite show, a phone call to someone who loves you, long walks, yoga, rejuvenating face masks (?) or doing whatever it is that truly brings you happiness and peace.
When I was training to become a therapist we actually had to make a self care plan, and develop a list of things that we would do to maintain good mental health and wellness. It definitely helps to know what these things are ahead of time so that we don't fall into harmful ways of coping with stress. We also had accountability partners we could check in with periodically to share if/when we were incorporating our self care plan (this can be a regular friend, or therapist!). What works for one person may not work for everyone. Example - I am so bad at baths. I don't get how people stay in there for more than a couple of minutes??
Making self care a priority and incorporating it into your daily life will help prevent burnt out, not just address it once it is occurring. Being aware of what self care means to you will also give you concrete, reliable things you can do to cope when the going gets tough. Treat Yourself!
... "The Circle" by Dave Eggers. I have to admit, this isn't a page turner for me, at least not yet. I'm not very invested in the protagonist, Mae and I'm just feeling a little bleh about the whole thing. However, this book definitely appeals to the "afraid of technology, humansaregoingtodestroythemselves" part of me. It's not that I'm actually afraid of technology, it's just that I'm not so sure that all of these advancements in technology, namely social media, are actually improving our lives (as I sit here blogging). Supposedly it's helping us stay more connected, more efficient - but are we really connecting and do we really all have loads of free time that we didn't have before? Go out to eat with a friend. How many times does that person look at their phone, respond to a text, or get altogether sucked into their device while they're supposed to be spending time with you? How many times are you, yourself guilty of doing the same thing?( <---- This is something I'm trying to be mindful of, sometimes making a rule helps... like, I'll only check my phone if the person is in the restroom, etc.)
So far, The Circle seems to be, not so subtly, showing the reader the absurdity of what this technology is turning us into. I'm at the point in the book now where Mae is starting to realize that the technologies she's required to use at The Circle are not making her life any less busy, complicated or enriched, but rather doing the opposite. We'll see how I end up feeling about this book once I've finished it, but for now I think it's at least a good reminder that we don't have to adopt every new technology that's out there if we don't feel that it will benefit our lives. Weigh the benefits, let's be critical about what we're willing to take time to look at and use. We will all have varying degrees of social media use (for example), but it should at least be an outcome we come to through some soul searching and awareness. Right?
Today I feel compelled to write about change. The type of intentional change that, (like most) is slooooooow and moves at a snail like pace. I'm feelin this topic today because I just did what (for me) would have seemed impossible two years ago. I have worked out 3 of the past 4 days. One of those workouts included going to a new type of fitness class ON MY OWN. I want to use my change, fitness habits, as an example to talk about any type of change that a person might want to make. In this moment, I'm feeling the inclination to scrap this entire post. How ridiculous. Plenty of people exercise daily. What kind of accomplishment is this? This is nothing special to be proud of. I'm already judging myself. My struggle is not anyone else's and what is extremely difficult for me may come naturally to others. That doesn't diminish the pride I should feel in working (long term) towards this goal, right??
Now, I've always hated being uncomfortable: sweating, panting etc. I've done yoga off and on for years, but rarely consistently, maybe once a month or less. Maybe much less. I had been longing for years to be more fit and healthy, envious of those who had discipline, which I always told myself I did not. Before I could even begin to change or work toward the goal, my judgmental, self-critical thoughts would kick in, and I'd give up before I even got started. Why try to go for a run when you know you'll only make it 5 blocks? Somehow I had it in my head that unless I was going for lengthy runs, or killing it at some spin class, any other form of getting out and moving was embarrassingly insignificant. About a year and a half ago I was chatting with a friend and had a moment of clarity where I realized how much my negative self-talk was impacting my ability to start changing. So I allowed myself to start slow. Very slow. I began taking long, 6-7 mile walks once a weekend with a friend. This was enjoyable for me, my speed. Not too intense, not uncomfortable. I watched for critical thoughts along the way, and did my best to replace them with gratitude and encouragement. Within 6 months I was regularly doing these walks, and one other long walk a week on my own. The positive impact that these twice weekly walks had on my mental health was profound, and I felt great. Then I began incorporating a regular, sustainable yoga routine. At first just twice monthly maybe, and then more. Since January of this year I have been doing yoga twice weekly, in addition to walking. A month ago I tried my first barre class and loved it.
So here I am. I went for a run Thursday evening, did a barre class yesterday morning and yoga this morning. And I still feel like scrapping this post. But I won't. Because what if your goal is to cut down on drinking? Or eat healthier? Have kinder interactions with people, or improve a relationship? It likely won't happen overnight. And that's perfectly okay. But it definitely won't happen if we discourage ourselves to the point where we don't even try. I still have days that I flake out on yoga, or don't feel like going on my walk. And when that happens I try to notice why I'm feeling resistant, but it no longer comes with the feeling that I'm a failure. Slowly, over the course of actual YEARS I have proved to myself that I can be disciplined, and active. It just needed to happen at a pace that was comfortable for me.