Self-Care Mode

2016, you are testing my patience. LET UP WITH THE DRAMA ALREADY!


There was more death in my circle of friends this month, which meant mental anguish for all involved - not the way I wanted to start the month. I'm lucky in that none of it was in direct relation to me, but no one likes to see their friends broken by such things, that alone is hard to watch and hard to help with. But, we're strong group and even though we're miles away from each other, we look out for each other as much as we possibly can. 

A week of wallowing followed, which is not like me, but I just couldn't get myself right. I was overtired, overworked, sleeping and eating very little ... a terrible combo. As with all these situations, eventually you get so tired you just pass out one night, and I did, and that helped. I'm terrible when I don't sleep; I feel like the world is falling in on me, so as soon as I rectified that I started feeling much better. 

To take care of the rest, I engage self-care mode.

Self-care is one of those things people neglect a lot; usually because they're too busy, or they think have better things to do than relax, or they have other people to care for, but if you don't do self-care eventually you will regret it. Sticking your health and mental well-being on the back burner is great when you're in fight-mode (when helping others through a tough time, for example) but you have to take it off the shelf and bring it back to the front of your agenda in order to get yourself right. After all, if you're tired and stressed out, how useful are you going to be to anyone? 

My self-care routine is full of really simple things: 

I don't have baths too often, I'm very much a shower girl, but when in times of anguish I know to put myself in the bath (my mum did this to me when I was a child and therefore it still works). I don't know why it calms me down so much, but it does. It's probably the warmth and total privacy, but it's so calming. Give me a book and that's it, I'm completely at peace. 

Books (well, reading in general)
Books are always a great place to hide away in. I'm fairly sure I might be last person on earth buying actual *paper* books, but when I don't want to deal with technology, they are perfect (and frankly anything which means I don't have to go near social media is a godsend during wibbly times). 

And yes, comics count as books.

I supposed you could call this 'having a lie in', but as you can do it any time of day I chose to call it lounging. I do most of mine on weekend mornings (as I never sleep in too late, my body clock is accurate, I don't even use an alarm on weekdays), which involves making a cup of tea, going back to bed and rolling about for a good hour or so. When my team play I'm very fond a baseball replay in bed (as that's a couple of hours) or I'll use the time to catch up on podcasts.  Anything which involves me having a very slow start to the day feels indulgent.

Treats (and being well fed)
I am shocking at feeding myself when I'm stressed. I can cook, I'm actually a great cook, but it's somewhere down the bottom of my list of priorities when I feel like shit. I'm likely to live on toasties and bowls of cereal (yes Mum, I know this is awful). Last month my friend came around and cooked dinner for me, which was really nice, and it kickstarted my own urge to cook decent food for myself again. I've also started to have a back-up plan of 'quick' meals that I can turn out it 20 minutes, which are good for me but take little time to throw together. I'm also a firm advocate for going out for a lunch or dinner every now and then, not only will it make you get out of your pyjamas but you can also have pudding, which is something I'm always too lazy to put in my house. 

Last month I mentioned that I had decided to hit the Government's weekly guideline for activity levels, which is 150 minutes of moderate activity every week, for 10-12 weeks. Just to see if it made any difference in how I feel (which is a bit old and creaky at times). Having established this into a routine (I try for 3 sessions between 30 - 45 minutes per week) I made myself keep this up during a bad week this month. Okay, it wasn't easy, and the desire to go home after work and go straight to bed was always more appealing, but as I have to walk past my gym to go home ... it made sense to at least try. And I did. And it helped. Bollocks, I hate it when the Government is right. 

(Overall I'm less creaky, I have more energy and I sleep better. Bloody know-it-alls.)

I'm all for a wallow. My gosh, every now and then when life has really kicked us in teeth we need a good wallow, but we also need to recognise when it's time to stop wallowing and get ourselves back into our usual life routine. It's not easy, in fact it's downright exhausting, but you have to try. Go slowly; go to work but go easy on the social plans, then make social plans which aren't too taxing (like going to the cinema), then go out for lunch with a friend; just go at your own pace and re-establish a routine in the real world. Slowly slowly, softly softly, gently gently, catchy monkey, or something. 

Think of self-care as a preventative medicine or like a savings account; you put stuff in so that when you need it, it's there. I gave myself a weekend full of these things after a really bad week and I knew that it would not only make me feel a lot better there and then, but it will make things better for the following week, and the week after that, and the month after that. It encourages you to regain control of your own health and allows you to create behaviours and mechanisms which will allow you to cope with stressful patches as they come along; because they will keep coming (as sure as night follows day) but at least you'll be best prepared to deal with them when they do. 

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