I don’t think I’ve written about this one, but lately the importance of self- care has really been apparent. It’s one of those things that tends to get pushed to the side. There are so many things that seem more important, or at least so many things that are more pressing.
Family, work, and volunteer responsibilities are just a few of the things that take up time and make it difficult to fit self care in. Schedules are packed and when every minute counts it can feel like there truly is no time.
But we HAVE to make the time. It may mean writing it on the calendar, planning in advance with a friend, or even just having an accountability partner who will call you out if you push it aside.
I honestly didn’t give much thought to self care before I really had to. In fall of 2014 I was in significant pain and finally decided to do something about it. At that time my self care came in the form of physical therapy and a major diet change. Those two things may not seem like self care but they really were. They were big changes I made to make myself better. To make PT work I had to start doing exercises daily. That took discipline and time, but I made sure to carve that time out of my day.
The diet change was to give up gluten. After years of intense stomach pain and no real answers in bloodwork or a colonoscopy, it was a shot in the dark. The pain started to get better almost immediately. I lost weight (a bit too fast, about 30+ pounds over just a few months time), my skin eventually cleared up, and I think getting the gluten out of my diet helped with inflammation which also helped with the pain in my body.
Those changes together made an incredible difference in my life. Getting the pain under control was the key to being able to be more active. Being more active made me feel better. Feeling better gave me a better outlook on life.
Then in 2016 Gabe died and the exercise came to a grinding halt. My mind shifted from self care to survival. My short term memory just about disappeared. I had no desire to go to the grocery store and feeding my family was a huge task. I honestly don’t remember much of the first months and I don’t really know how I got through. I was on autopilot. When you’re on autopilot you don’t think about self care.
Eventually the fog lifted a bit. With the help of a couple friends I started walking, eventually able to walk 3-4 miles. I also got back on my exercise bike. I got pedicures occasionally, and my frequent visits to the cemetery were also a form of self care for me- driving in the car was time to think and sitting next to Gabe’s grave helped me clear my head and respect the need to cry, journal, and just let my grief wash over me.
Over the years I have realized that for me exercise is critical. When I am stressed it eases that stress. When I’m angry it calms me down. When I’m sad it often boosts my mood. The hard part is that when you are feeling those negative things it’s often not the first thing that comes to mind to ease those feelings!
One key thing about self care is that it can feel selfish. But the truth is if we neglect ourselves and our needs we are less capable of handling the responsibilities of daily life. So it truly is critical!
Remember to care for yourself- in grief or any other stressful situation. If you have suggestions for self care feel free to comment! You never know who may benefit by reading your suggestion.
Thanks for reading!