I go to therapy a lot, and we talk about self-care a lot, especially in group therapy. I don’t have a great list of things that represent self-care to me, although I do have a pretty clear understanding of what my inner child considers an attempt at self-care that most definitely is not. These are things like: (a) an entire mini ultimate cake from Wegmans (Luckily, I threw half of it away before I could really ride it down a shame spiral), (b) a new pair of shoes (I have many pairs of shoes. I wear perhaps ten of them in regular rotation.), (c) a date with my “friends” Ben & Jerry (self-explanatory), and (d) ten new [tank tops, t-shirts, coloring books, self-help books, pens, water bottles…you get the idea] because I want to “treat” myself. I am not saying that I do not still engage in those behaviors. I definitely due, usually when my defenses are about as down as they can get (so…all last week, once the news of the election results hit, sending my sleep patterns into chaos and my Facebook feed into a frenzy). Wait, there’s another one…burying myself in social media. Not self-care. Still something I do.
So what is self-care for me? And what prevents me from pursuing it? Reading fiction is self-care for me. I love to immerse myself in another world and live someone else’s story through the words of my favorite writers. Watching a good movie while paying full attention to it is self-care for me (I am a chronic multi-tasker…chronic multi-tasking is NOT self-care for me). Attending my individual and group therapy sessions are self-care for me. Emailing my therapist when I am having a really bad day is self-care for me. Coloring in adult coloring books mindfully, without the TV droning in the background is self-care for me. Taking care of my body is self-care for me. Eating something that will not make me feel yucky and sluggish is self-care for me. Yoga is self-care for me, as long as I am in a mental space that I can see it as more than just a series of asanas and can check my ego at the door.
I don’t pursue self-care because I don’t think I deserve it on days that I did not accomplish “enough.” I don’t pursue self-care because my to-do list gets too long, and I “don’t have the time.” I do “have the time” to read every post that has been posted to my local Pantsuit Nation’s FB page and use it to feed either my disgust with the world or my desire to wrap my arms around the entire world and give it a big hug. I do “have the time” to play seven games on Facebook in rotation, watch eight episodes in a row of RHONYC (Viva la marathon!), look for the perfect area rug for my new home, and research thoroughly whatever nursing interest is at the forefront of my mind (right now, it’s a tie between integrating treatment for postpartum depression into the OBGYN office and supporting NICU families through their NICU journey and beyond), and watch every true crime documentary I can find on Netflix.
It’s hard to consider yourself worthy of self-care when the world has so many other things it wants you to do.
I am heading out the door to yoga this morning. I am going to step on to my mat, and I am going to try to leave everything else off of it. I am going to try to lose myself for an hour and a half in the community in the studio but solitude on my mat, on the supportive and soothing voice of my yoga teacher, on the knowledge that I am with a group of people who wish to do the same. And then I will use this time I gave myself to fuel the rest of my day.
I am back from yoga. It was everything today. I left secure in my kula (a Sanskrit word that can be translated to “community of the heart”) and feeling incredible love from the community of yogis that I found in the studio with me this morning.
Always, always, always. Love wins.