Thanks for giving your thoughtful responses to last Thursday’s question! I’ll post my own response, and then your responses below it. The question was as follows:
The definition of self-care is often dictated to us by family tradition, by the marketplace or by our peers. Things that fall outside socially acceptable definitions of self-care are often dismissed as unhealthy or indulgent. What are some ways that you care for yourself that might fall outside the status quo? Do you judge yourself for them? Have you learned not to judge yourself for them?
My Response: I have a busy head. It’s always been so, but lately it’s taken a turn for the extreme as I’ve chosen a new path that means moving to a different country, selling 75% of my belongings and a huge shift in career path. My head is a series of loose, frayed and tangled ends. The only way I seem to have any peace is to zone out to the television. This is perhaps not the most ideal way to relax, but it works for me. It calms and comforts me, lets the dust settle to the floor of my head before I start the twirling frenzy again. TV has always calmed me – it was my babysitter growing up, my friend as an ostracized teen and my companion in the silence of loss as an adult. I suspect my relationship with TV will change over time, but for now, it is often my only source of respite.
Elizabeth writes: For myself, I find having a night alone does wonder for my health and wellbeing. I need one night alone at least once a week, and thankfully, I am in a position where I can do that right now. It allows me to process what has happened during the week, relax and enjoy not talking for once. I used to think that actually wanting to be by myself was really strange and feared being labelled a “loner,” but now I really couldn’t care less because it makes me feel so good!
Rebecca writes: The greatest thing that I can do for my well-being every day is to have a large breakfast full of fat and carbs in the form of fried eggs, cream cheese, bread, and sweet things. I have fried eggs and toast for breakfast as often as I can because it starts me off on the right foot every time. I find that I have more energy, I feel satisfied, and I don’t find myself getting hungry before i can get another meal. My mom kind of gasps in astonishment when I tell her what I eat for breakfast most days – that’s a lot of fat! – but it’s absolutely good for me.
Renee Writes: Quiet time with a book, looking out on the creek. I have always used this as retreat. Books and water.
Aoife Writes: Oh my, self-care. I’ve been thinking a lot about this one in the past couple of weeks, especially with winter really setting in. I’m not good with winter, always had a bit of the SAD, and Jan and Feb are the worst. It takes a whole lot of work just to keep functioning, to keep myself reasonably okay, and to make sure I don’t do anything self-destructive. And some days that’s just too damn much, and I need to give myself time to just plain be depressed, to not force myself out of bed and into the real world, to not drag myself out to get some exercise to try and get myself a bit of energy, to not push myself into feeling okay, but to just plain be miserable, to stay with that and live in it and be in it, to let myself experience all the awfulness and apathy and crappiness and hopelessness of it all. If I don’t do that sometimes, I’ll end up burning out long before the evenings stretch out again in March and things don’t need to be forced to feel okay. So, yeah. For me, sometimes letting go of all my hard-learned self-care habits is the best thing I can do.