Self-care is a concept I was unfamiliar with up until this year. I mean, I had “me” time here and there but the actual concept of self-care was nonetheless foreign to me.
Caring for MYSELF? No. Much less doing it out of self-love.
Early this year I was having dinner one night and the person I was with pointed out that as long as he had known me I frequently neglected my health and body by not eating well. And it wasn’t about eating junk food, but about skipping meals–too often.
I immediately started crying. It was another mirror moment. The fact I was so damaged, because of no fault of my own, to the point I neglected myself made me so fucking sad.
I can’t say that skip meals on purpose. It’s not necessarily intentional. I LOVE TO EAT and cook, for that matter. But eating is something that triggers the pleasure/rewards system of the brain. If I’m going through one of my bouts with either depression and/or anxiety, I lose my appetite. I begin rejecting things that will make me feel good. Many times that is not a conscious decision. It’s hard to predict how or when or why I will come to reject a meal. Some days I may be so stressed I know for a fact I won’t be able to hold down food, some days all of the sudden it’s 6pm and I haven’t had a bite of food or drop of water. When your mind is racing thinking about traumatic, hurtful, stressful things, the appetite is simply not there. Or it is and my mind tells me it’s not. I cannot explain the reasoning behind this beyond “someone hurt me, it’s hard to love myself and I’m working on it.” And by working on it I mean I want to start eating even when my mind and body tell me I’m not hungry and that I don’t deserve pleasures or rewards.
After that conversation over dinner, I decided I would try and be more conscious of times I was rejecting pleasure, joy, rewards, happiness.
I have been better since incorporating a self-care routine into my life. After having panic attacks, my first thoughts are 1) recovery and 2) self-care.
Recovery is when I take a day off after having an anxiety attack to rest my body. Anxiety looks different for everyone. For me, it usually entails crying, uncontrollable shaking, rapid heartbeat, sweats and chills, hyperventilating, vision blackouts, trouble breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea.
That shitty (poor choice of words?) experience takes a heavy toll on my body. I wouldn’t be able to function if I didn’t rest after going through something like that. So, on recovery days I am literally recovering. Soothing myself. Massaging my muscles. Sleeping. Resting.
Self-care is a bit different than rest. This is where I’m up and about, actively working on my self-love.
Self-care options [for me] include:
- cooking and actually eating
- making a nice cup of hot tea with a heaping tsp of raw organic honey
- taking an Epsom salt bath and hot shower
- listening to ASMR (What is ASMR? Click here)
- doing my makeup and hair and taking selfies…it may be all I accomplish that day but it makes me feel good so that’s what matters
- making a budget sheet and paying bills online…this is actually so relaxing for me. I DON’T KNOW WHY. I do it every Friday at noon.
- cleaning the house…nothing makes me happier than a clean smelling house.
- reading a good article or book
- masturbating with soft music in the background…this is part of reclaiming what was taken from me and becoming comfortable with my femininity and sexuality.
- organizing my desk
- organizing my fridge and pantry
- sweeping my back patio
- lighting incense
- watching Netflix
- treating myself to a snack or Starbucks
- applying a facial mask
Currently, I do a combination of these things almost every day or every other day. But if my health is pretty stabilized and I’ve been doing well for several days then I aim for once a week.
Do you do any of these? Do you have any recommendations for self-care? I would love to know how you take care of yourself.
It’s important to remember self-care is your journey and no one can dictate it or tell you how to do it. That’s what makes it so special for me, I am in control of MY self-care. For many of us, loving and caring for ourselves is not the norm. We may feel we don’t deserve care or love. Like I said in the beginning, this was a foreign concept to me but I am truly enjoying learning how to care for myself and as a result, love myself.
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”
– Audre Lorde