Thursday, July 10, 2014

I suck at self-care.

One of my secret talents is convincing myself I’m good at self-care while simultaneously being really terrible at it.

Recently, my life has felt like two ends of a spectrum: either I am frantically busy and filling every inch of my calendar, or I'm sleeping forever. Most of the time I’m doing the former - working all day, chatting with my mom, reading blogs and scrolling through Facebook. The weekends are similarly preoccupied, but because I’m doing “fun” and “social” things, I don’t always see it that way. I'm either here or at Erik’s, most of the time with plans to see other people as well as find date-type activities to do together.

The opposite of this is keeping an entire weekend free and spending it in pajamas and in bed, either sleeping, lounging, or eating. I don’t leave the house and I barely leave my room. Usually I’m still on the computer, catching up on the lives of everyone else. This is my I'm taking care of me plan of action, even though all I'm doing is giving in to the physical limits of my body running at full speed all the time.

I'm starting to realize it is absolute madness. I get nothing substantial accomplished unless I really force myself to wedge it into my “busy schedule.” I go and go and go until I crash completely, and even then I'm not actually recuperating but instead doing the bare minimum to feel better.

I have yet to figure out what self-care actually looks like to me, mainly because I thrive on short-term instant gratification. Self-care probably consists of one or more things off of the following list:

- Getting consistent amounts of restful sleep.
- Waking up in the morning with enough time to not have major IBS problems on my drive to work.
- Meditating.
- Drinking more water.
- Eating more fruits and veggies and staying away from processed food.
- Journaling.

The problem with all of these is that they sound boring. They sound hard. They sound like work. And how can work be self-care? Yes, doing these things would be beneficial both physically and mentally, but I seem to have attached “happiness” and “gratification” to the phrase self-care. My current list looks a lot like this:

- Lots of sugary and/or indulgent foods.
- Retail therapy.
- Sleep.
- Scrolling through tumblr for an hour.
- More sleep.
- Mindlessly watching TV.

So what do I do? I am notorious for lack of discipline, so it’s a struggle to stick to that first list instead of the second. I’m trying to make it easier to develop healthy habits by setting phone alarms when it’s getting close to bedtime or making sure I bring salad to work every day. I’m identifying peak lazy times and working against them, like immediately after eating dinner, which is when I usually cuddle into bed with my laptop and social media.

How do you take care of yourself, in the non-indulgent, actually-caring-for-your-body-and-mind way? Do you have any tips? This is a serious question, because I can seriously use any and all advice. Teach me how to dougie self-care.

photo by me