I’ve been thinking a lot about self care. I’m not sure where I am in my self-care journey since I’m still trying to figure out how to live in the “messy middle” of getting it right and just getting it done but but I have come to realize a few things about self-care….
When I started to hear the term self-care I felt it reeked with privilege and escapism. My first introduction to self-care generally involved massages, manicures, baths, wine etc…. And it left a sour taste in my mouth. Now that I’ve gotten out of the red zone a little bit, the munchkin is a little more self sufficient and I’ve started to identify the key principles in my life I’ve started to be able to look again at self-care and see the value in it but also see what is truly self-care and what is escapism for me.
Let me start by saying that escapism isn’t inherently bad and there is no judgement to utilizing escapism. The problem is when I am constantly escaping or numbing out to my life or my experiences I know I’ve gone past the point of relaxation or taking a breather and have completely started to check out; when I check out, my life and my relationships suffer. The three most common forms of escapism for me are: scrolling social media, TV, and reading. These can all be beneficial and have their place but they can also become ways to avoid working on what I need to accomplish both to be an adult with responsibilities and a woman with goals.
I have found myself just refreshing my social media feeds to see what I missed in the past 5 minutes (and also because they keep changing their algorithms so I’m not sure I’ve seen EVERYONE’S news….). There was a few times in my life where I wasn’t even looking at the screen but just refreshing it because….well who knows? This is the mindless point of social media that keeps me a zombie waiting for the next post and when I know I’m wasting precious time focusing on the wrong thing.
TV and books both have their place, I enjoy both but when they keep me from getting a good night sleep or getting something done that I should be getting done.
But what about when self-care is hard? When it’s hard to do what you need to be doing and escaping or “taking a break” is so much easier and more appealing?
I have learned that sometimes self-care is about mothering yourself. It’s about making you do things that are good for you even if you don’t want to. The things your mother (or grandmother or whatever nurturing influence you had in your formative years) would tell you to do. For me, I remember Babci telling me to brush my teeth, take a bath/shower, put on a coat, turn off the TV (apparently I still have to tell myself that), clean up my room, and any number of things that parents tell their children. Many of those things, in retrospect, were part of doing the harder things now because it’ll make me happier later. If you’ve heard Gretchen Rubin talk about this, she uses the idea of the “future self” as a source of accountability for obligers (which is a try this at home from a listener). (which turns out to be an idea from Wil Wheaton…learn something new while trying to get links….)
Tonight was a prime example of this kind of self-care. Generally on Sundays I attempt some food prepping but since I took Monday off for an eye doctor appointment and the Munchkin isn’t napping the way she had been the routine is a little off. Monday I ended up not getting it done either for a myriad of reasons but luckily I had one lunch left from the week before and the Mr. was off so I was going to rely on him to make breakfast. Tonight was the “last chance” to get the rest of my lunches made for the week. I seriously considered blowing it off, but I knew that I’d regret that tomorrow when it’s 6:00am and I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to eat for lunch at work and also trying to figure out some of those quick breakfast ideas that I’m searching for this year. I reminded myself that tomorrow morning I’ll enjoy my coffee more knowing I don’t have to worry about what’s for breakfast or lunch and my tomorrow morning self will be much happier. When I put it in the context of consistency and making my future self happy it made it easier to under take the task of making salads:
I knew the 45 minutes or so of making these two dishes (the oatmeal was done in the rice cooker with egg whites) would cut into my time to write or cut into my time to read the Nora Roberts book I started a couple days ago or watch my new show “The Pinkertons” but it was important to get done.
I also took some shortcuts (because sometimes self-care is also about taking short cuts):
As a person with limited amounts of time, energy, money, etc… I need to remember that sometimes self-care is forcing myself to do things I don’t necessarily want to do but are still good for me. Sometimes that’s making a necessary doctor’s appointment or sucking it up and cleaning the kitchen. Sometimes it’s about flossing your teeth, going to bed early and not staying up to watch another episode of something on TV. Sometimes it’s about having a cup of tea instead of a glass of wine and sometimes it’s putting whiskey in that tea. And furthermore, sometimes it is about powering down and reading a book or watching TV.