Not that long after COVID became an actual thing, Russ Harris, in his almighty wisdom, put out a small guide on how to take care of yourself in the wake of COVID. As we move into the holiday season, and with COVID rates going through the roof, it's more important than ever to take good care of ourselves. Self-care means more than just making sure you've eaten and showered. Self-care means hobbies, leisure activities, and fun too!
Let me illustrate.
It's been a common thing for many of my clients recently. And let's be fair, right now surviving with working from home, taking care of your kids, doing other household chores, etc., is a herculean task.
For example, a person that works may get done with an 8 hour work shift. In the middle of that, their daughter wanders into their improvised home office asking for help with their school work. That person may have to pause, go get them set up with assignments, troubleshoot tech issues,, and get their kid rolling again. After work, there's still dinner, chores, and preparation for the next day. Is it any wonder that our leisure time is staring into the void of Netflix, or doomscrolling?
Where self-care comes into this entire equation is carving out some of that time for meaningful engagement with activities that boost you. Hey, I love Netflix and Hulu as much as the next person. Bob's Burgers, ride or die. And these are valid strategies- they just can't be the strategy. Checking out can't be the only go-to that you use to come. That's not self-care. That's avoidance.
So, in this busy day described above, we may decide to put our phones aside, turn off the TV, and curl up in bed with our partner for a nice long conversation, cuddle, or more. We may decide to skip an episode of whatever, and go for a quick walk instead. One of my clients decided recently to take up jewelry-making again. She'd had a real knack for it before the pandemic, and although she can't craft for as long as she used to before, she still gets enrichment from spending 30-45 minutes wrangling metal and semi-precious gems.
In DBT terms, this form of self-care can fall under Accumulating Positive Events, and/or Building Mastery. It has a life-changing effect. When we work on accumulating positive events, we are consciously inserting positive things into our day to counter the negative. When we build mastery, we are doing something that we are good at, or hope to become good at, and building our sense of self-worth.
How much survival self-care do you do- showering, eating, putting on clothes, taking your vitamins? How much self-actualizing self-care do you do? Reading, writing, painting, hiking, crafting, singing, spending time actually enjoying events in your life?
If you're out of balance, it may be time to remedy that. Even dogs know that we can't live hand to mouth, that there has to be something more, or human beings start to grow discontent and restless. If you find yourself locked in that spiral or space where nothing seems meaningful anymore, this is the best time to change things up where you can.
You deserve it. You're worth it. You're a meaningful, valuable, beautiful thing and it's time you show yourself the love and the care that you need.
All the best,