Self-care is important. It’s how one can maintain a happy existence even when life turns into a pressure cooker and your juices are threatening to boil. For some people, self-care comes so naturally that they don’t even have to think about it. They take time out to recharge their batteries, make time to do it. They take care of themselves with no problems. They relax without guilt. They don’t even think about not doing it. It just happens.
I am not one of those people.
Hell, I’m not even exactly sure what self-care really means. I know for some people it’s a reminder to take care of the basics because they get so wrapped up in stress that things like eating and drinking and sleeping and such get neglected. For me, self-care is more of a reminder to just take a break. To leave whatever stress or turmoil or work or whatever where it sits and walk away. Leave it alone, let it rest, and go soothe my soul with some kind of peace.
And I am garbage at that.
I’m one of those people who never works hard enough, is never good enough, and could always have done more. I’m one of those people who never deserves a break, never earns one, and I feel guilty if I even consider taking one.
For me, self-care is a struggle. Not only do I battle the inner narrative that I’m being lazy if I’m not being productive, but I also live in a world in which my attention is demanded. Alone time is hard to come by. I’ve learned to work through interruptions for the most part. Now I’m learning to self-care through them, too.
I’m learning to self-care, period.
As much as I long for a day (or a week, sometimes) of peace, I’ve learned to take it where I can get it. When I’m actively practicing self-care, like I did this past weekend, I accept that out of a day, I might get a broken hour or two of peace. Asking to be left alone for a while is not an option. The request either isn’t respected or if it is honored, it comes with hurt feelings because opting out of being someone’s personal audience for a day is considered a personal affront. So, I’ve found that it’s in my best interest to make the most of the time I can get. Little sips of peace. Not exactly full-on refreshing, but still nourishing.
As for the actual method of self-care, I relax best by doing something I really want to do that isn’t related to work. This past weekend, I did marker art. Sometimes it could be finishing a book. Other times I’ll dedicate my peace pursuits to studying some subject I’m interested in for an hour. It could just be a twenty minute dance party. For me, doing nothing is hard. There’s too much guilt and anxiety that comes with me doing absolutely nothing. If I do a little something amidst the nothing, then that lazy narrative has nothing to say. A gentle mix of productivity and rest.
I have found that, with continued practice, I’m getting better at this whole self-care business. I’m recognizing when I need to take these breaks and then I’m taking them. Before, I’d run myself into the ground and then run myself into the ground a little further before making the very slow climb out of the hole and feeling like a lazy fuck every inch of the way. Now I’m refusing to let myself get to that point.
Slowly but surely, I am getting the hang of this whole self-care business. I can’t say that it’s becoming more natural for me.
But I can say that I’m doing a much better job of including it in my world.