BY Becca Rose
This morning, I woke up at my usual time of 7:30am and made a choice: I decided to switch my work week around a little. It’s not as difficult as you might think – I usually have a certain day of the week off, so I simply switched it to today instead.
As a rule, I try not to make decisions about my day in the morning when I first wake up, because when I first wake up I resemble a sort of yeti-like creature, hair flying everywhere and unfocused eyes as I emerge from the cave into the harsh light of dawn. Or something like that.
Today, though, I sat up and fully considered. I took stock of my inner conditions, my outer ones and where I was emotionally. What I realized is that I was still emotionally drained from the events of last week. Or more, I was just tired inside, not bodily. I came back from a wonderful two weeks off and launched full-speed into a hectic work week, packing everything I own and moving it all every day after work. It didn’t give me much time to relax or reflect or just be, which is something I really need. I need processing time, time to think and play my guitar and read a book after I’ve been a little too hectic. Last week was so, so hectic and stress-making.
“Picture yourself when you were five. In fact, dig out a photo of little you at that time and tape it to your mirror. How would you treat her, love her, feed her? How would you nurture her if you were the mother of little you? I bet you would protect her fiercely while giving her space to spread her itty-bitty wings. She’d get naps, healthy food, imagination time, and adventures into the wild. If playground bullies hurt her feelings, you’d hug her tears away and give her perspective. When tantrums or meltdowns turned her into a poltergeist, you’d demand a loving time-out in the naughty chair. From this day forward I want you to extend that same compassion to your adult self.” — Kris Carr
This quote is something I found digging around on Tumblr that for me, really illustrates the concept of self-care in a tangible way. When my therapist first told me about this thing “self-care”, I was like, pssh. PSSH. Dismissed it. Uh, and now, I’m sort of all about it. I’m sure you don’t need the time off that I need after a week like I had. Maybe you get energized from a week like that, whereas I just get drained of all ability to function. What I’m saying is, knowing yourself and knowing what you need in order to be happy, healthy and well-functioning is so utterly important.
It’s not always possible to take a break when you need one, and I get that. It’s not always ideal to see a friend when you really need it. But what I find so often is that we feel guilty about taking care of ourselves. Much more guilty than we should be. I mean, I just took a two week vacation that I desperately needed to retain my sanity. But I felt so incredibly guilty about leaving work that I almost cancelled last-minute. I know so many of my friends who don’t stop and take stock of where they’re at, and when they do, they feel guilt about what they should be doing and it inhibits them from really taking the rest they need.
I have this idea that I should be able to do everything. Well, not everything. But everything. Do you know what I mean? I should be able to go to work full-time and school full-time and have a clean apartment and stock up savings and do every social function and run all my errands and finish work projects ahead of schedule and also have great hair every single day. Instead, what happens when I live under this mentality is that I careen about like an over-energetic puppy, wildly flailing between tasks, probably knocking over vases and causing puppy mayhem to myself as I go. I think I’d rather be a grown-up dog, you know, the ones that jump up to greet company but feel no shame in taking a nap. I know, you can’t believe I just made that analogy. Well, I can’t either.
Self-care, to me, is compassion for myself. The compassion to realize that I can’t do everything, and the grace to consider that as being okay. I encourage you to evaluate yourself, whenever you need it. Weekly, monthly, whatever works for you. Sit down, take a break, do the thing that makes you feel like you, that thing you never give yourself the time or space to do. Breathe and cherish your little five-year-old self who somehow, without your express permission, became this big adult you who still needs naps sometimes.
Compassion, grace, and rest. You always, always deserve that from yourself.