On Self Care (and Sanity)

I can tell that I really am finding a groove again after such a long time—I find myself writing posts in my head while stuck in traffic. I think about essays that I want to write and send out to editors. (I don’t see this happening any time real soon, but the impulse is there. The stories and opening sentences and phrases are there.)

A confession: I have always had an extremely strong aversion to the term self care. Like, shudder. Unless I’m using it in terms of my newly-minted two-year-old and things like her brushing her own teeth, putting on her shoes, and things like that, it’s just never, ever been part of my lexicon.

It’s hard to articulate why, but part of it is that to me, it somehow seems…indulgent. Intellectually I know that’s not true, and that what is self care to one person may seem extravagant to another, and vice versa, and that what self care means to and among patients varies widely, too.

After a whirl wind new baby-more demanding job-family health extravaganza-book due-selling, buying, and renovating-house couple of years, I think I am finally settling out a bit. Even just having the book done and not automatically having to work late every night, or occasionally using my daughter’s weekend naps to do housework instead of just work work has made an enormous difference.

And with some space to actually do things deliberately this fall, instead of just scrambling to stay afloat, I find myself trying to establish new patterns. Like I said, September always feels like a fresh start to me, and that is especially true this fall, as we’re getting used to our new town and new lifestyle. I never knew how much of an impact place would have on me, but more on that later.

(And, speaking of fresh starts and new locations, I’m going to launch whole new site really soon! Stay tuned for details as we tweak final changes…I am really excited!)

I’m going to bed earlier, which for me means striving for 11pm, but it is a start. I actually feel asleep at 10:30 the other night and it felt wonderful. I really miss the awesome gym near where I used to live, but I have found a home workout routine that I can fit into my life realistically and can stick with, and it feels good to have some structure back, especially after a summer of living out of bags and packing and unpacking way too many times.

I’m experimenting a bit with recipes again, and incorporating a lot more high-protein vegetarian meals into our family diet. I’m planning late afternoon adventures most days of the week, and lately, I haven’t stopped to get the coffee on the way to the playground or the farm or the pumpkin patch that I always used to need en route to our various jaunts. (Every time we pass by a Dunkin Donuts, my daughter says “Mama really likes coffee.” Yikes.)

I got my hair cut for the first time in, oh, seven months, last week. “Don’t ever do that again,” said my new stylist. Trust me, I won’t.

For so long, when I couldn’t find a life rhythm, I couldn’t find a writing rhythm, either. There was no place for new words, for reflection, for ideas swirling around and percolating. I much prefer imagining new posts while stopped at red lights to falling asleep at them (because yeah, that happened).

I’m not trying for radical changes, I just want a little bit more balance. If that’s self care, then I guess that is now a part of my lexicon.

So tell me, what sorts of small changes or new habits are you undertaking? What’s one practice or tip you absolutely recommend?

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5 thoughts on “On Self Care (and Sanity)

  1. Going baco-pescetarian after some disgust over red meat and poultry.

    Accepting that I am at a weight that I need new clothes…and buying them, moving past fear that I’ll yo-yo again.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Rachel! Ha, I love baco-pescetarian. Honestly, I am distancing myself a lot from meat, even chicken, though I do still have that since my family eats it a lot. I try to have any kind of meat just once a day, at dinner, and am mixing in more vegetarian meals at dinnertime as well. I just feel better with more protein coming plant-based sources.

  3. My biggest self-care tool is booking self-care things in my calendar. Write in “sleep until noon” and “bubble bath” or “read from 8-10″. if its in your calendar, it holds the same validity as “work” or “doctors appt” or “pick up xyz.” and you won’t be as likely to bulldoze that time with other responsibilities!

  4. A lot of my recent attempts at finding balance seem to be about trying to strip stuff out. I’ve been trying to remove a bunch of physical junk from the apartment, but with that has come an urge to declutter my life as well. It seems to help, but it’s definitely an ongoing process.

    The other useful thing I’ve started doing was actually tracking my food intake. That may sound weird, but for years, I was able to basically out exercise my diet. My last physical demonstrated that I can’t do that anymore.

  5. I totally agree–putting things into my calendar really helps me, and Jake, we got rid of so.much.stuff. when we moved, and it felt so good to weed through so much unnecessary stuff that cluttered our physical and mental space…

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