I have felt quite like sh*t the past couple of days. I can’t even fully explain why. I have just felt extra anxious about a couple of things and it has been so paralyzing. There are periods where I feel totally fine as if this is the new normal and others where everything feels kind of off. It really varies and there doesn’t seem to be any sort of specific trigger. I feel as if I hear everyone everywhere saying, “take care of yourself”, which I completely agree with, but what does that really mean? Have you ever sat down to really think about what that personally means for you? What does it really mean for you to take care of yourself? What does it mean to care for yourself?
For some, keeping a very normal routine e.g. waking up, brushing teeth, getting dressed, taking a shower, cooking breakfast, etc. is the most healthy thing that they can do. I know a couple of people where that is the only thing keeping them sane. For instance, I am quarantining with my mom right now. Has anyone else noticed that moms just never stop being moms, no matter how old you are? My mom claims that she doesn’t like housework, cooking, etc. but she definitely does. Usually in the afternoon my mom asks what I would like for dinner. I can cook for myself, not the same way she can, of course. Sometimes this still catches me off guard because I assume I will just make my own dinner as anyone would at my age… and in general I feel weird when people do things for me (I am sure there is something to unpack there). Every time the feeling, “I can just cook my own dinner” comes up, I remind myself that I am so lucky that we have food to eat right now and that she is able to even be home to cook for me. (Perspective is essential.) I also remind myself that as generous as my mother is, the cooking is not about me. My mom loves a routine and that is her taking care of herself. I want to do anything I can to support my mom so I put my weird eating habits aside and eat at 5 pm, which has been a lot better for me.
This is not the time to be worried about the way that you care for yourself and how “put together” it is. The way you care for yourself isn’t for everyone else. Who cares what it is if it works? It just needs to work. That is what you need to pay attention to. Some people right now cannot be bothered to wear pants half the time (that’s my camp) and they feel great about it. For me, putting on clothes, brushing teeth, and doing my hair doesn’t mean anything unless I have a cup of tea and write something. It can be any cup of tea and whatever I write doesn’t have to be any good, (which is what seems to be happening right now…) but it needs to be done. Granted, I can’t go a morning or evening without brushing my teeth because I have an abnormal fear that if I don’t, I will immediately have a cavity (that’s really not how that works… I hope) so that is more out of habit than anything. However, the simple act of brushing your teeth could be a symbol of refreshment and new beginnings for someone else. That reset can be really important. For health reasons, if we can we need to be brushing our teeth regularly. It just doesn’t have the same meaning to everyone. If someone else tells you that in order to care for yourself you need to be brushing your teeth, consider that while that may be important for them that it may not be to you and that’s more than okay. We cannot compare how we care for ourselves because for some this act is very meaningful and for others it is important but the meaning isn’t there. There is no medicine in something that doesn’t hold any value to you and your spirit. You will know if your habits are simply just that or something more meaningful by how you feel if one day you choose not to include them. If the tea and writing are not taken care of, I feel off. If these things haven’t been taken care of properly for days on end, I don’t feel right. If I don’t feel right, the only person I can look to is me because I haven’t been taking care of myself.
Everything aside, whether brushing your teeth, cooking with your kids, somehow getting some fresh air, etc. is your nonnegotiable, you just need to know what your nonnegotiable is, especially right now. Don’t try and look up what you need to be doing to care for yourself. There are so many “self-care” routines out there that mean nothing to me but mean something to the person that wrote it. It could mean something to you. Everything means something different depending on their soul. You already know what you need. Commit to doing this for yourself everyday. You need to care about yourself enough to care for yourself properly. No one else can do this for you. It can be really simple or really extravagant. Only you will know what is truly meaningful. There are some times where I really need fresh air. If walking around or running isn’t reasonable, I will just step outside the front door for a few moments (possibly with or without pants). It only takes a couple of deep breaths for me to feel so much better. This isn’t for everyone. Some of my loved ones don’t care about even leaving their homes. They are okay right where they are and possibly never even seeing the light of day. They need something else entirely. My sister probably couldn’t care less about moving around, but connecting with her friends regularly is really important. I can not see my friends for years and be just fine. Despite how I may feel about fresh air, that doesn’t do the trick for everyone. Despite how some people feel about being around more people, sometimes it helps me and sometimes it doesn’t do much. Know the difference.
You always have the opportunity to set up a healing space for yourself. You just need to know what genuinely feels like your perfect medicine. It doesn’t have to be anything I mentioned and it probably isn’t because I listed some pretty basic ideas. I can’t even list that much more because I can’t come up with anything other than what is genuine to me or what I have noticed about those around me. The only thing that is important is that we respect ourselves enough to take care of ourselves. This is the only way we can lend a helping hand to those who may need it. Taking care of yourself never ends.
with love, katie