Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Putting the self in self care

A couple of conversations in the blogosphere lately remind me that the only way to know what self care is, is for the self in question to define it. No one else can tell you what you need in order to be really rested. For example, occasionally someone will suggest that I get a massage and probably the reason I hate 'em is because I've never gone to ____ ___ who knows exactly etc etc etc. Massage is not good self care for me, and the drama that is making and keeping an appointment reminds me of this.

I know I'm practicing good self care by exactly how kind I am to my son, and how unweepy I am with my husband. When I start snarling at the one and bursting into tears whenever the other looks at me, I know it's time to take a look at how things have been going in Self Care Land.

Here are the three best self care habits for this self:
1. 8-9 hours of sleep out of every 24.
2. 1 (20-40) minute walk alone per day.
3. Taking a large quantity of vitamin B every day.

RE #1 - who has time for that? I'm still working on it. I mostly fall in the 6-7 hours range, but I do so much better with more. I sort of realized this when the morning people at my last church all thought I was one of them, and ditto the night people. I'm equally dopey if it's too late AND if it's too early. (Although not as dopey as the music director at my new church, who is so adorably grumpy first thing on Sunday morning that it's hard not to push his buttons on purpose. Bad pastor. Bad.)

RE #2 - much funner* when the weather is sunny and warm and the days are short. Much harder to fit it in when the days are short and it's raining out and it's October and I'm probably getting a cold.

RE #3 - I manage this almost every day, although the knock-off brand I got a couple weeks ago to replace my usual ones because I could not find my usuals was really not doing the trick. I went and got a bottle of something that cost as much as a Jedi Halloween Costume, promises it is organic and says it relieves "nervousness and exhaustion." I feel all 1830 when I take it, but it seems to be working. That annoying headache that was back for a while seems to be mostly gone now.

Other self-care measures are, off the top of my head: checking in with Jesus as often as possible; eating 2 servings of fruit or veggies with every meal; going to the spa every month; getting pedicures regularly; regular dates with my husband; blogging; going to the chiropractor; practicing yoga; talking to my parents at least once a week; singing in a chorus that doesnt mind that I'm not all that musical; keeping in touch with my brothers and friends; going away by myself for 2-4 nights per year; having someone else clean my house; not driving for a whole day; eating in nice restaurants; browsing in bookstores; laying on grass.

After a big list like this, I try to remember that the very best self care is not to get all hung up about if I'm practicing good self care or not. Because being angry with myself for bad self care is just a very windy road that I don't want to go down.

*Do those of you who remember Tricia Barton remember how she used to scold us for saying "funner" when we were all 13? She was so much cooler than the rest of us. I pretty much wanted to be an adult when I was 13, but she really really really was not meant to be a teenager. I wonder whatever happened to her. Hopefully she's still cool wherever she is. A brief Google of her name reveals a dog breeder, a writer, a scientologist. Really, she could be any of these, I guess. Or all three.


more cows than people said...

me too on the 8-9 hours- really, has to be 9.

and... so rarely happens. tonight though... and tomorrow night... it will.

what sort of b vitamin? sounds like it could be good for me.

good practices, dear one. especially the not beating yourself up one.

love ya.

mary beth said...

How does one feel "all 1830?" And is that a good thing? I hope so, for the sacrifice of the Jedi costume

but so so glad you are taking care of your wonderful self.

thanks for the walk reminder. Makes a big difference when I don't forget it.

Kirstin said...

This is hugely helpful right now--thank you!

(see blog for why.)

Songbird said...

You know, I have the same thing about massage, right down to the drama. But have you ever tried Foot Reflexology? That is fabulous and less, I don't know, nekkid.

Wyldth1ng said...

I have to admit, that reading your number 3, I thought was beer for a split second.

On the vitamin, does it really help that much?

juniper68 said...

MCTP - it's called New Chapter Organics Stress Support Multi "Rise above nervousness and exhaustion"

MB - that 1830 thing is about how that "rise above, etc..." reminds me of those bottles of "medicine" for lady's complaints they used to sell back in the day. they always had a funny little saying on them like that, didnt they?

K- you have been in prayers - I've been reading blogs but not commenting much. (bad self care, that...)

SB - I'll try that reflexology thing sometime. that sounds good. And I like getting a facial.

W - I would be such a cool person if I started each day with a beer, but sadly no. Yes, it does help that much. You know those people who wilt and get all headachy if they dont have their coffee? That's me with no Vit B.

Thanks for the comments, folks. Nice to see you all on this more navel gazey than usual post :)

Wyldth1ng said...

Do you mind if I add your blog or link your blog on my blog?

Mother Laura said...

Keep taking good care of yourself the way that feels right to you...and thanks for sharing this.

I will spare you my recommendations of massage therapists in Portland (unless you ever want to try cranial-sacral, which happens clothed). But if you are looking for a spiritual director/companion I had a really awesome one while I lived there, at a very cool place called the Interfaith Spiritual Center. In fact, I am jazzed about seeing her this Saturday evening....

Anonymous said...

Funny - I had been thinking about Tricia after the 20-year reunion as well. If you hear from her, let me know.

I couldn't agree more about how you're measuring self-care - I find my own tolerance for the challenges of being a parent and spouse is really sensitive to how well I'm taking care of myself.

A big part of my own self-care these days is running, particularly doing distance races. I was always the chubby, computer-geeky kid in high school; it's sort of a constant surprise to find that my body is capable of distance running. I usually have to rearrange and reprioritize things to make the time, but it's almost always worth it.