Ok, so, I’ve been talking to my lady friends about what self-care means to us. It’s been concluded that women tend to take care of everyone else before ourselves and have historically been punished for taking the time to do anything for ourselves or setting boundaries in our relationships (seen as selfish, high-maintenance, or, God forbid, cold or ambitious (shudder)). Thus, the need to be really deliberate about how we tend to our own needs = “self-care.”
This buzzword is more-or-less prescribed by and for women, as men have historically been better at demanding/maintaining their needs, hobbies, and identities throughout the changes of adulthood (ie: fantasy football, pooping alone, not feeling guilty about taking time to exercise, etc). I would also argue, that by ignoring our our health/needs, we women are literally dying of heart attacks and cancers and such, because if we’re not watching out for ourselves, no one is. No one is care-giving us like we care-give for others. Ignoring our’selves’ is detrimental.
We are beyond seeing self-care as bubble baths and Chardonnay. We’re talking about how to mend and build our minds, how to challenge ourselves in positive, stimulating, and self-directed ways, and how to fundamentally change how we view and care for our bodies. We want to be mentally and physically strong, and we want to be in positive relationships. We need to spend some time analyzing who we are, who we’ve been, and where we are in our personal growth.
When I was recently asked what I do for self-care, I responded that, “Oh, it’s easy now that I’m not working! I have tons of time by myself” and it’s sort of true. I get a chance to be alone, in my own head a lot more, and for this, I think I am generally calmer and happier. I have control over my own schedule. However, when I said it, my friends laughed at me and said, “Cool, cool, so you’re not running a business or raising kids or working in the hospital part-time? You’re up to date on your annual GYN visit and everything? You’re reading for pleasure? You finished writing your book?”
Such insolence. Maybe friends is a loose term. Let me have this one thing, you assholes.
They were right. I thought of that one funky toenail on my right foot that’s been staring back at me like Frankenfoot since summer. I haven’t dealt with that. I haven’t even taken the time to paint the poor sad bastard, to prevent it from being mocked by the other toes. Also, the books that I read are children’s books, to my kids, or I listen to audible books, while I drive all over the earth delivering product for our small business. I am not up to date on my healthcare (mostly because I’m afraid my docs will tell me to stop snacking). I’m still not totally letting myself do things wholly for me, because I have fear that it makes me selfish or worthless. So…there’s room for more deliberate time devoted to my mental and physical health.
I know about meditation, I know about yoga, I know about walks in the woods, sex, drinking water, and reading by the fire. In reality, though, I snack, I watch TV, and I drink alcohol. These are VERY common coping mechanisms, mirrored and celebrated throughout society, but they’re not great. These things drag us down and are the opposite of stimulating or health-serving. They are draining. They are depressants.
I posed this question to my Facebook friends last week:
“Everything hurts all the time. I’m moments away from turning 39, I’m 25 lbs overweight, I snack constantly, almost exclusively on carbs, and, between driving and writing, I sit at least 6 hours/day. I sleep terribly, falling asleep on the couch in awkward positions most nights. Also, I drink a lot of water, but it’s mostly been filtered through roasted beans or fermenting grapes. My question is- what expensive vitamins and essential oils should I buy to fix me?”
I was kind of kidding, because it seems apparent that if I took better care of myself, I wouldn’t always be in a sore fog. I got a lot of great ideas between workout routines and vitamins, stretching, and things I should be doing with meat. I will implement some of them. But, really, what I assumed people would tell me is what I already know- drink the water, sleep the sleep, exercise ‘dem bones. If you had a parent making you do the things that are good for you instead of just what feels temporarily, easily, satisfying right this second, what would you be doing? What should I be doing?
SOOOOO…..I’m thinking about being like a super mean mom to myself for my entire 40th year of life and seeing how it goes. I’m considering no alcohol, way less sugar, exercising, writing or reading, (and sexing?) nearly daily, drinking my weight in water, and sleeping at least 8 hours/night. FOR A YEAR. This would be radical (miserable) but I wonder what parts of me it might revolutionize.
OK. Now. How do I do that? And also here’s the part where you talk me out of it and tell me I’m fine, how I feel is just natural aging process, leave it alone. Go.