I don’t know when it first happened, but I just noticed it for the first time yesterday.
I was driving into a car park, heading for the disabled parking spaces. There was a group of people standing talking, blocking both disabled spaces. I stopped the car, indicated and hung my disability badge on my rear view mirror. They still stood there talking with no sign of moving out of my way.. for another 20-30 seconds. Eventually they moved and I was able to park the car.
I didn’t get irate, stressed, upset, none of those things. I calmly sat and waited for them to see me and move. When did I lose that instant switch to narky inconsiderate member of the public mode? I have no idea, but on reflection that’s not the only change I noticed in myself.
Being happy with your own company
I spent all of Wednesday sat at home relaxing. It was a lovely day so I sat in the garden for a lot of the time. I was not lonely, I didn’t feel the need to get up and go out anywhere. I was just perfectly happy being me, in my own space, doing my own thing. It has taken a long time to truly reach this place.
Being happy with your own appearance
I have been taking selfies for a long time. It started off as a way to help lift my mood. But as I have already alluded to, it’s moved to be more than that. Much more.
On Monday I was feeling unwell from a stomach bug. I was feeling under the weather for a lot of that day. But ingrained in me somewhere I had to make an effort, to actually get properly dressed and do something with my hair at the very least – just – well because it would make ME feel better.
I spent a long time – years in fact – making very little effort above the absolute minimum with my self care and personal appearance. So look at this!? Go me.. for wanting to get dressed and make an effort JUST FOR MYSELF – despite having no intention of going anywhere.
Being happy with who you are in the world
I remember when I was scared to wear certain clothes, look a certain way, so certain things with my hair….
I didn’t want people to see my artificial leg, my extra body fat accumulated during years of medical dramas, the true sadness behind my eyes, the deep set anxiety in my soul.
You know what? I truly don’t care what other people think about me any more.
What I care about more, is how I feel inside myself.
I feel proud, strong. I feel confident. I feel unique, I feel like me. This me, the current right now me. Not the old me. I am ME.
I am worthy of love. I am a good person. I can do whatever I set my mind to. I will achieve my goals, and I will not let anyone or anything stand in my way.
How did get here?
For a very long time now I have prioritised self care. 6-8 months at least, I would estimate. Maybe longer. At first it was a mechanical action on my to do list. Something that was suggested by my therapist, very much forced. now it’s an essential part of my week and I actually look forward to it.
What does self care look like for me?
These are just some of the things I would do, under the heading self care. This list is by no means exhaustive and yours will probably look very very different to mine.
- Alone time. Quiet time just sitting – in the sun, in the garden, wherever. Listening to nature, watching the world go by, nothing else but that.
- Read. I love to read but my staying power is minimal. But that’s ok. It’s still a relaxing pastime that I enjoy and I can vary the type of book depending on my mood.
- Exercise. The form of this varies depending on where I’m at. Swimming is very therapeutic, as is cycling, walking in the bush, caking a canoe down the river. Exercise is very much my therapy and I notice if I have left it too long between sessions.
- Eat well. I’m no cooking connoisseur but I always feel better when I cook from scratch and don’t eat crap snacks. I also cook in bulk and freeze portions to give me less excuse to go and buy crap food!
- Look after my house. Home is my haven, one of my safe places. So keeping it clean and tidy seems basic, but it comes into self care IMO. Added to that I have been doing renovations – because that too is also self care.. whether it be making the home warmer, redecorating, doing the garden or whatever.
- TV time. To be honest I don’t watch too much TV but sometimes I just need something to keep my mind occupied with minimal other effort involved!
- Catching up with friends. This definitely has a time and place in the self care regime and sometimes it doesn’t fit in this box at all. But sometimes it does. For me that’s usually a coffee date or lunch with a friend. More so that than evenings, which are usually recovery time for me mentally.
- Writing / blogging / Vlogging these take on different roles at different times. I keep a journal to help me organise my thoughts and emotions which helps me with decision making. This is never published, it’s just a journal that I keep on me. Blogging has multiple roles. I want to feel like I can help others, through sharing my own experiences. At the same time it is also a good way to share things with my friends and family around the world.. since letter writing and emails are long dead in that regard! Vlogging is something I did at first to share my amputation journey. This was because no one TALKED ABOUT JT FROM THEIR OWN PERSPECTIVE.. so I decided I would start. These are now less frequent and usually visually orientated.. showing things, like trips, events and so on. It still gives me pleasure to make these, even after a couple of years of doing them.
There are many many more but the above are probably the top go-to things I make sure I have in my week. If any of them drop off the list.. I start to know about it. None are a chore, all give me pleasure. That is how I have managed to get to my positive state of mind place that I am in now. It happened slowly and gradually, often without me noticing. Because I was just focusing on my self care list.. till it became a core essential and no longer a chore.
Start making that list.. I would love to hear how you’re getting on ☺️