Look, the empty cup analogy is a good one for people who feel the need to put aside their own care to take care of others, but the truth of the matter is that is only part of the equation. We need rest, we need food, and we need self-care because we need those things. There doesn’t need to be another reason, and we sure don’t need to “earn” them.
The way to start believing in yourself is to have experiences you can look back on and draw strength from. When I feel anxious about something at work, meeting new people, moving, or other stressful situations, it helps tremendously to recall when I have already successfully done those things.
Or, sometimes it helps to remember the times I wasn’t successful, but I survived nonetheless. That can also be a huge relief, the memory that these failures, or accidents, won’t kill me.
I know this is a struggle for me. I notice every mistake I make. I dwell on them much longer than is healthy. When I do something well, even to the point of getting complimented? I forget it relatively quickly.
That’s not a good balance. I know I’m not alone in that. So what do I do?
As many of you know, we got hit by a hurricane in our area of the world last week. We were lucky compared to many, but things have not been normal, by any stretch. Lack of power, gas shortages, and curfews don’t leave a lot of room for “typical” self-care routines. It’s hard to have a spa day when all the spas are closed, after all. Self-care in that kind of situation might look more like cleaning up the storm debris, or getting sleep when you could.
Remember, self-care is not one type of thing, as Melanie says acts of self-care are acts that help you feel better and less anxious, even if they don’t always look the same!
Having trouble with stress and anxiety? The suggested solutions often require adding even more to our to-do list. Meditate, practice mindfulness, do acts of self-care, etc. But we often forget that maybe the most important act of self-care is getting enough sleep.
Don’t even get me started on the fitness industry and the number of people who talk about “earning your food/sleep” through exercise. Argh!
This study would indicate that sleep is not something you want to mess with. Simply getting enough would help us with our mental “junk”. No, it won’t cure depression or eliminate symptoms of bipolar, or any of the other things that some of your friends will, unfortunately, suggest, but it does serve a core function for the healthy functioning of your brain, and that is certainly one place to start making things better, no?
If we take anything away from this pandemic in terms of our self-care regiment, I hope that it is a recognition that many of our “suggestions” for how to practice self-care are completely unreachable to many folks without things like available childcare, stable incomes, some semblance of work-life balance, and the support of others. We can’t just toss another thing on the list of their responsibilities without making it possible for them to do.