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Self-Care in Tough Times

So….I’ve gotten to be pretty good at self-care over the years, so let’s talk about that during these weird times.

My daily normal routine revolves around care for my boys and self-care. I recognize that’s a luxury most people do not have. But for this time where most of us are at home, self-care can take center stage for many of us when we are not in the midst of caring for others.

Here are the some of the things that sustain me throughout the day right now:

candles….scented oils….my coffee bar….ginger tea….meditation….yoga….crochet….writing

Candles

I used to be a hardcore candle fan. Then children came along and you know, safety. Then Click Away happened a couple of weeks ago and there was a candle in our gift bag, and so I thought, “Eh, Oliver is old enough and never bothers stuff on my desk, so why not.”

I forgot how much I have missed candles these thirteen years. So, I went to Hobby Lobby and got the giant one in the picture. Oliver complains about the smell but everyone else in the house knows to pick their battles, lol. The scent of this one is sage teakwood. I couldn’t go for one of the obnoxious lavender ones that I would have chosen thirteen to fifteen years or so ago. I still don’t walk away from my desk with it lit, but it’s a small thing of comfort that I am glad to have back in my life.

Scented oils

In the times that I am not currently feeling it with the candle or when I want to be able to walk away from my desk yet have the scent flowing through the first floor, I resort to the oils. Though I couldn’t stand the smell of the lavender candles in the store, lavender oil itself is another story entirely. Tea tree and eucalyptus oils are my other current standbys.

Coffee Bar

My coffee bar didn’t get a lot of use in its early days. However, now I am using my pour over carafes and filters for ginger tea-making. Plus, it’s easier to make larger volumes of coffee in the coffee maker. So, it is becoming a morning ritual to stand at the coffee bar and survey the mess I’ve made of it. I’m limiting myself to two cups of coffee a day right now.

Ginger Tea: a Self-Care Tea

The ginger tea….oh, the ginger tea. It’s not quite as luxe as it was in the first few days standing there chopping up ginger, but man, is it good to drink. Last night I was late to the making, so and a little last night and I put it in the fridge and started this morning with it before coffee, too.

A note along the health lines with ginger tea: it’s helping me lose weight, too. It’s not dramatic, but there is progress. I can tell both by the scale and the way my clothes fit. This is particularly important given that my endocrinologist changed my hypothyroid threshold, so that I’m really running more hypo than I am used to running. He did that, though, because I feel good and am not gaining weight or overly depressed even in spite of the numbers. And….he also did it because my hypo threshold used to be higher than general because of the resistance to thyroid hormone issue. So yay for being more normal AND losing weight!

Meditation

Ten percent happier is my meditation app. The sessions are usually around five minutes long and none of them have been longer than ten minutes thus far, so it isn’t a huge daily commitment. It’s been really educational learning about mindfulness of emotion. It’s something I wish I’d learned about twenty years ago but I am super glad to be learning about it now.

Yoga/ Stretches

What I am doing barely qualifies as yoga though there is some mindfulness to it. I am doing stretches, mainly focusing on my torso as possible and shoulders. If I lay off for several days now, because the first day back there is always severe nerve pain originating from the outward side of my right shoulder. I am certain this has to do with the progression of the curve in my back. The stretches feel so good and there is the good kind of exercising soreness after the fact, which begs for more the next day. This is a twice a day but I am not hard on myself if it only happens at night or in the morning.

Crochet

My association of crochet with my depression has eased somewhat. Right now crochet equals mindfulness and ease of anxiety. I picked up five skeins of cotton bamboo yarn before social distancing was enacted (now available at Walmart– CoBoo!) It’s good to be working with this soft, sort of heavy, yarn. Mostly it’s crochet time in the evenings when Jared is mostly done with work, while we watch TV.

Writing as Self-Care

I’m writing here, of course, as well, but I can’t say enough about private journaling. Jared and the boys never get nosy enough to go poking into my books, so I have several laying around the house, though most of them stay at my desk or in the studio.

I picked up the journaling habit when I was ten years old, about the time I read Harriet the Spy. Writing is something that has sustained me in a way that nothing else ever, ever has. It has cultivated self-awareness and I’ve worked through so many issues that I couldn’t work through in therapy for whatever reason. Writing, and particularly journaling somewhere where you don’t have to worry about censoring thoughts, is probably the single most important self-care tool in my arsenal. As long as I have a physical journal book or an app on my computer or phone, I know I can take care of my mental health through most anything.

Therapy: Crucial to Self-Care

I didn’t include it in the original list, but I did restart therapy last week after a four-year hiatus. Important for everybody if you can work it into your budget. So thankful my therapist is willing to do tele therapy until the current health crisis blows over.

I had a really bad therapist for a number of years, but even through that I recognized that therapy is really a good thing. I was just afraid to trust someone new. My most productive therapy has been in outpatient group sessions, but I attribute that to the outstanding quality of the therapist in question, not the setting or the fact that it was group therapy or the institution in question.

I say all that to say that a good fit with an ethical therapist is of VITAL importance. I gave up for several years, and I know that I have stalled in my growth in some ways because of it. But, I am back in the saddle now and ready to go and feeling really good about it. Don’t do what I did: don’t give up on therapy because of a crappy therapist, if that is your current situation. Find another one. I love my current therapist and think it will be a very productive therapeutic relationship.

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