Self care has always been such a funny word to me. I always thought it implied laziness and selfishness, two things I’m not particularly fond of in myself. I’d read articles from women who took long weekends away alone to regroup and couldn’t imagine how indulgent and selfish that must be. I’ve been through quite a lot in the past few years and I’ve always managed to suck it up and keep on trucking. Why was that so hard for other people? What was so exhausting in their lives that they had to just completely shut out everyone else and indulge themselves in a weekend or a week of doing whatever they wanted, whenever they felt like it? Why did they take self care to the extreme?
I’m slowly coming to realize that self care is something I should be giving a little more thought to. I’ve always took a little time out for myself in my busy weeks to get a pedicure and haircut a couple of times a year. I have my summers off of work, thanks to being an educator. I learned a few years back to just say no to things that don’t bring me joy or add any sort of value to my life. I’m not a constantly busy person. Besides going to work each day during the school year, my life is pretty mundane and quiet. So what has made me come this realization that I should be paying even more attention to myself and my well being?
My life was changed last year when I had double bypass heart surgery. The recovery was long (more time to focus on self and take it easy!), but also frustrating. When my three months of intensive recovery were over, it became my mission to completely bounce back and take on things with a newfound gusto. It was if I had something to prove to the world and everyone around me. See? I’m OK! I can still do everything I want to do, and then-some! I walked faster, I threw myself back into caring for a big home, and made it my mission to hardly sit down at work during the day because that would just look like I wasn’t ready to be back and couldn’t handle it.
The reality in all of this is that the faster and better I thought I was doing things, the slower I was actually moving. More time was required in the mornings to get going and get ready for my day. Never sitting down and booking it down the halls at work left me with swollen ankles by day’s end. I have gained 14 pounds since my surgery, partly due to a new medicine and partly due to inactivity. I had no outlet for the mounting stress of dealing when things got hectic at work (reading fair and book fair in the same week) and it has finally caught up to me, I’m afraid. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks stressed out, nursing a sinus and ear infection, two missed days of work, and exhaustion upon exhaustion. I’ve spent the last two weekends in bed and housework has been neglected. I’m run down and at the end of my rope and I am too tired to tie a knot and hang on.
Thankfully, I have this entire week off from work to practice a little self care, continue to heal up from my illness, and get myself together. I won’t ever be the type who takes off from her family for a weekend alone, but I can see where I need to make small changes in order to keep myself from coming up against that brick wall. I need exercise daily as a way to maintain the health of my heart and as an outlet for dealing with stress. I need to just take a seat sometimes. I need to back away from time sucks like social media. I need to complete a small chore around the house each day instead of trying to tackle all of the cleaning in one fell swoop. I need more water. I need more long, hot baths and reading on my Kindle during the upcoming colder months. But most of all, I need to give myself permission to be a little self-indulgent, and that’s a hard thing for me to do because it feels selfish. However, the alternative-also known as where I am at right now- isn’t good either, and probably worse in the long run. I may even go completely crazy and get a pedicure and hair trim!
Photo: m van den Dobbelsteen