Lately; I’ve been under a lot of stress and my mental health has been up and down. Mostly down.
This winter is dragging on, plus the temporary move, the appointments, the recovery from the car accident, it’s been accumulating in a subtle; and less subtle; but real way. I’ve found myself exhausted, yet I have a lot of trouble falling and staying asleep. I’ve been crying a lot; either while watching TV or just emotionally overwhelmed. I have a hard time managing my emotions, managing myself. I am being ask “how my vacations are going”. Definitely not vacations in my book.
So I’ve tried to practice a lot of self-care; but unfortunately it’s easier said than done. I failed at times. I put a lot of pressure and expectations on myself and everything ends up feeling like a chore or a waste of time. I’m so up in my head, I am not mindful or fully-conscious. I’ve compensated with food and social media a lot lately. The brain fog is thick; and if I manage to empty my head; I feel very anxious and I panic. So my self-care isn’t always refreshing.
So in my spoonies group; we started talking about self-care tips and how it might not always be expensive or time consuming. It is quite common for spoonies (either with physical or invisible illnesses) to make a box/bag of self-care things and tips may be very helpful in a difficult phase. Sometimes, you’re so wrapped up in yourself, focusing on managing your pain that you forget what could help you.
Here’s a short list of self-care that may help you build your own list/box/bag:
- Hydration: Could be water/herbal tea/coffee/water bottles.
- Moisturizer: Sometimes, some massaging some cream into your hands, your skin, can help you soothe and reconnect with your body.
- Naps: For me they are the best self-care. It helps me disconnect from everything and relax my body. Some days; I find myself craving some foods, but deep down, I really just need a lie down.
- Therapy: Illnesses can be very hard for mental health. We all have our own struggles. Having someone to help us look critically at my thoughts have been a lifesaver for me. If you can afford/have time for therapy, this is good self investment.
- Contact list\Phone numbers: If you are in a very tough/dark spots; you may forget who is out there ready to help you. Keep a list of friends, family members, good ears, helpline. You are not alone. Reach out.
- Move your body: Now when I encourage to move your body, It means within your limits. Joyful movements doesn’t mean torturing yourself on a treadmill or a gym. It could be going out for fresh air; taking a walk or light stretching. Whatever works.
- Feed yourself: Some people tend to overeat; others struggle to eat. Feeding your body seems obvious but it is important. Don’t judge yourself; don’t judge the food you eat. There is no morality on food, but if you struggle to put or keep food in; try to prioritize protein/nutrient dense food.
- Heating pad/Gel pad/Massage roller/ Medicated gels: Some of us struggle with chronic or acute pain. Having those on hands for flare up moments are a necessity in my opinion.
- A list of your Happy movies/shows/movies/books: Whatever is your groove, putting on something to distract yourself may make this moment go faster or be a bit easier.
- Take a shower/Wash your face/ Put makeup on: Now this one is a bit controversial as showering might take a lot of spoons. However; I find myself benefiting from a hot shower after a few days without, even if I don’t want or feel like it. It may also be very soothing for muscle pain. If you do shower; make sure you are doing it safely; either with a chair; bars; someone supervising if needed. There is no shame in that.
- Deep breathing/Meditation: To be honest; I am not a big fan of meditation as I already find myself too much in my head. However, some grounding moments, big breaths can be very soothing; especially if very anxious or while having a panic attack. Guided meditations or spa music is something to consider putting in your bag.
- Journaling: Whatever your struggles; jotting down and keeping tracks of your emotions; symptoms; pain; writing it down can help you get out of your head and put things in perspective. A warning: If it becomes obsessive; it may not be for you.
- Masturbate/Have sex: Yes. This can be self-care. Sometimes; we have to redefine how we engage in sexuality and intimacy while disabled but more on that later.
I reached the end of the accessible self-care I could find. There is a lot of others ways you can engage in good care; petting an animal; being pampered; cuddling; but these are not accessible to everyone.
Pick the ones who speak to you. Curate your own list. Come up with new ones. Share them with us if you want.
There is no shame or guilt in taking time for yourself. You might need a lot of time. Especially if you have been negating your spoons for a long time or in a big flare-up. There is nothing wrong in saying no and establishing your limits with psychologically/physically draining people/tasks.
You can enjoy yourself. You can have fun. You can buy something nice. Even if you’re strapped on cash. Even if you are living off donations. You are entitled to be happy. Disability/Limitations doesn’t define you. You define you.
Until next time;
Catherine; the cynical mermaid.