Well… hello friends. It’s been a while, I know. I’ve been on vacation. Not the kind of vacation where we go on a trip and I spend half the time thinking of writing, or actually writing – a REAL vacation where I intentionally declared “until further notice there will be no writing!” It was a good vacation, and it was necessary. You see, writing (here, my fiction work, even tweets and Facebook posts) had become a point of stress and anxiety, and I think we can all agree that I certainly didn’t need any more of those in my life. So I took some time away, and because it was an intentional decision, I escaped the guilt and the nagging feeling that I typically have when I lapse in my writing. Which brings me to what I want to talk to you about today. There’s a lot of talk in the mental health community about something called “self-care” and it’s importance, but sometimes exactly what qualifies as self-care gets murky in the big maze of catch phrases and buzz words. So what is this self-care thing anyway?
Well, to me it’s making an intentional choice to meet your own needs. It’s identifying a point in your life that needs change, and it’s taking proper action or making necessary arrangements to address it. It could be a physical need, such as ensuring that you get a healthy meal, time to exercise, proper sleep, or a shower. It could be a psychological need, such as quiet spiritual time. And sometimes, it’s the intentional choice to NOT do something. To say “no” to a volunteer opportunity because you know you won’t have the time. To not do some household project because you can’t deal with the clutter it will create.
A lot of times we see self-care equated with some sort of pampering activity, like getting a pedicure. These are great little treats that can certainly boost our mood and make an impact on our psychological health, however we need to be careful not to make the idea of self-care only about pampering. Pampering usually involves some sort of optional activity, and especially as moms pampering is the first thing to go when things get busy or stressful. Self-care is not optional, it is not a fun little perk, especially in busy and stressful times, it is a necessary requirement for good mental health.
So what did my self-care look like? Well during this vacation (which is still partially ongoing) my goal has been to recapture the happy, fun mom that I see as my truest self. Pregnancy complications (plus, let’s be honest, plain old pregnancy) made me exhausted, crabby, and no fun to be around. Add that to my postpartum anxiety and you have a year of boooooring. I’m making the concentrated effort to become the mom I WANT to be, so that I can move forward with that, instead of hunkering down here in survival mode. I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress towards that goal, and I’m looking forward to continuing throughout the summer.
So where has my focus been?
Spending lots of time outside – like at the beach! We’re getting out to walk, heading to the park, spending time downtown, or going swimming as much as possible! We even went camping again, and I was able to relax and enjoy it!
Planning fun activities for just mommy and the boys while daddy’s at work – getting us all out of the house does wonders for my mood
Focusing on diet and exercise (sloooooowly, oh so slowly).
Sleep. Lots of sleep. And rest in general I’m not jumping out of bed to do things right away, I’m taking it easy, and letting my body do the resting and healing that it wasn’t able to do before. I’m even managing to let some housework slide… as long as I don’t go into those areas too often 😉
And it’s definitely been working. Although I noticed recently that my anxiety rose during PMS week, how I’m responding to the anxiety has improved vastly. I even noticed this morning, that my writing is starting to come back. I’ve never truly had writers block before, but 6 weeks ago I definitely did. The words just were not working for me the way they usually do, but slowly they’re making their way back in, putting themselves together, and soon I’ll be able to start writing them down. I’m me again. And that’s the most wonderful thing to be able to say.