Let's talk about self-care
I’m writing today’s blog post from my bed.
It’s not where I usually work, but I’m having a fibromyalgia flare, and I’m listening to my body. My body says “ouch,” but it also wants a sort of cradled support, and guess who has an adjustable bed?
Anyway, here is what my view looked like as I prepared to start this morning:
Of course, this fibro flare turned up over the weekend, which was a three-day weekend here in the United States. And I get a bit discombobulated on long weekends because I sort of forget where I am in the week. Which is how it came to pass that when I woke up around 4 this morning (snoring husband needed prodding to roll over), it dawned on me that I HAD FORGOTTEN TO WRITE AND SCHEDULE A BLOG POST. Which is negligent of me. I usually write these no later than Sunday, but somehow this slipped. Alas.
A thought slithered across my mind at 4 am. It said, “you should get up now and write your post so it’s ready to go this morning”. And I am super happy to report that I rejected that thought, and opted to get more sleep, and deal with it today. But it IS why I’m talking self-care today. Or will be, in a sec.
What self-care is
If you’ve seen articles on self-care, you know it includes things like face masks, baths, and a lot of other things that are essentially at-home spa treatments. It can also include all those sorts of things at an actual spa.
But true self-care is less external, and more about actually taking care of yourself. Which, when you think of it, should be completely ordinary, only for most of us, it’s revolutionary.
Self-care includes things such as
getting enough sleep (includes naps, if needed)
setting boundaries with others/saying NO
tending to your own nutrition
seeking medical care, including mental health care if needed
speaking to yourself kindly (takes practice to banish the critic in your head)
take breaks during the day, including a lunch break
creating a gratitude practice, such as journaling or listing three things each day
exercising—could be as simple as a walk, or something more
expanding your horizons through travel, reading, learning new skills or languages
making sure you get enough alone time, and also enough time with others
reducing stress, which can include meditation, reducing clutter, and more
Basically, it is about self-compassion in all areas of your life.
For me, one of the key things I’ve worked on this year is turning around my self-talk. I don’t know about you, but a lot of times I speak to myself in second person, meaning I say “you” instead of “I” when talking with myself.
Take better care of yourself with better self-talk
Turning around my self-talk to make it more compassionate means saying things like “wow, you’ve been doing a great job, and it’s no wonder you need a break” instead of “you are such a slacker—how can you need a break already”.
Reading those two differing formulations, you (the reader) are probably happy to assure me that the first sentence is right, and even if you haven’t met me, you may be thinking of telling me to take it easy, rest, feel better, and so forth.
So how come we are all so quick to speak to our own selves in something closer to that second sentence? I will tell you what: I am no longer tolerating that sort of abusive behavior from myself. Because negative self-talk is essentially the opposite of self-compassion. It is, in fact, self-abuse.
I decided earlier this year to stop tolerating that sort of self-talk. and even though I occasionally slip and wind up being a bit hard on myself, it’s become less of a thing. Turns out that when you insist that you take care of yourself by speaking more kindly to yourself, even your “harsh” self-talk is less bad than it was before.
It also turns out that when you are compassionate with and to yourself, you can let 4 AM thoughts about how you screwed up just slide away. Because actually, you can.