Last year, I wrote a post entitled ‘Self Care Saturdays’ which for the dedicated readers amongst us can read here. It was a post inspired by the week’ therapy session to have a 1-1 day where i would do things which I enjoyed including; massage, manicures and a wardrobe de-clutter. All of which are normal self care activities and ones that we should all be indulging in once in a while should our diaries and budgets allow us to do so; but recently I got thinking about what self care and I think I need to be re-defining self care.
For years, self care has been sold to me and perhaps you; as this expensive outlet that we should all have the money to do regularly but the truth is- a regular massage, manicure or fashion update all involve money and not all of us have the budgets of our aspirations which is not solving this mental health crisis we’re dealing with. Perhaps, self care has been tarnished with the brush as blue Monday and by that I mean- society has got hold of it and it’s now being marketed to it’s every inch. Take Blue Monday (20/01/2020) every fast fashion outlet was marketing it until the cows came home because they could and would take advantage fo what society was telling us to be the worst day of the year. Self care, went down the same route in recent years. Take our favourite influencers for example- I watched a vlog of Naomi Smart’s back last year and the duration was her blithering on about her self care rituals; blow dry, manicure, massage, facial and a lash lift. All of which I’ve had. All of which cost money. All of which require a very flexible lifestyle. It’s this depiction of self care that fails to acknowledge what in reality self care should be and is. It’s about well being- both physically and mentally. A massage, is great and makes you feel amazing. I’ve found a monthly check in with my massage therapist to be vital for my nerve damage treatment and I’m walking so much better than I’ve ever done- so I don’t call this self care- but treatment. But what do I call self care now with this wake up call?
Taking a rest day
This week I came down with a nasty cold. Blocked nose, congestion, chesty cough you name it i was feeling it. It was a bit of a come down following a cracking weekend of partying to celebrate my birthday. A cold for me has always been the thing thats an inconvenience but since having ME/CFS- colds’ take it out of me and are usually 9x worse than a normal person getting them. This often means, the lack of sleep affects my ME symptoms and just adds to the worsened condition. But we all know, there is a sort of taboo with taking a day off work or even making an excuse from the gym when you’ve got a cold. This week, I’ve felt rotten but I’ve ploughed through the week because I don’t like looking weak. I already feel weak with the ME as it stops me from living the way I know I’ve lived. But this week I made some key decisions. 1) I worked from home after I’d had meetings. It doesn’t sound a lot but I took the plunge and didn’t ask but said ‘I’m going home. I’m working from home’. I’d have usually panicked about doing so- but I needed to sleep and take the foot off the gas for just a sec. I then, cancelled all my exercise classes for the week. I knew I’d booked a couple and one with a friend. The way I was feeling right there, was not going to change so I needed to be realistic and think about myself and my health. Self care isn’t buying a manicure or even a massage, necessarily but it’s accepting when your body needs a rest and giving what it needs in favour of ploughing through just to say you’ve done it. We’ve become a nation of pity seekers, we’d rather sit on our pity pots and make a fuss of us ploughing on through despite feeling like utter rubbish because we think it makes us look better an stronger when the reality is- you’re stronger when you say no and say I need to stop. We as a culture, love to admit that we’re busy bees when in actual fact we’re burning the candle at both ends to meet these expectations of being busy all the time.
Mute. Unfollow. Block
Last year, along with acting on the self care advice, I begun to curate my social media feeds so that I can adopt a healthier relationship with the feeds. I’d got into toxic traits of ‘looking for shit, to make me feel like shit’. I was using social media as a way of self harm and had to take myself away from that. I don’t like unfollow culture; it reminds me of school bitchyiness. In a world where you can simply scroll past or even better mute the person, unfollowing just seems petty. Just mute em. However, back to the point in my question- in muting certain individuals from my feeds on all platforms, deleting numbers, resisting urges to watch their content on stories i’ve developed a healthier relationship with social media. I feel that in moving forward with this logic to social media- I need to stop dwelling on who watches the content i post and post for me not the people watching the content. In muting, or unfollowing when I’m feeling really petty or blocking in the real shit of times- I’ve begun to develop a better relationship with using social media.
My OCD thinking style, or the negative thinking begins to creep in when I’m taking time out for myself and doing things I enjoy whether thats; having a massage, going Bollywood dancing, going spinning or simply just going out for the day shopping with friends/family- I have a real habit in then associating these actions with negative things. I never find the art in enjoying this time on my own. Self care- shouldn’t just be the art of buying a new Burberry handbag or indulging in materialistic gifts but we should see self care as time and taking time for ourselves. We shouldn’t have to see, it or touch it for it to be considered as self care.
In a weird way, the phrase ‘self care’ has been re-defined by society in the last 12 months. We as a society recognise mental health in a much healthier and stronger way than we did 5 years ago- so our attitude towards ‘self care’ is perhaps different than it once was. In the last 12 months since publishing the first post on self care- I see self care as being something that should bring me sanity and be quality for my wellbeing not just provide an immediate sense of fulfilment in the same way that buying a new lipstick would. A massage, is self care- in that the pleasure I get out of this will be long term not just for the 60 minutes of being massaged. Saying NO, or taking a step back is me taking control of my wellbeing.