Self care takes many different forms. For some, it’s locking the bathroom door when you pee. For others, it’s getting up an hour early so you can have a coffee before the kids wake up. And for some, it is completely non-existent.
If you knew me 5 years ago, you’ll know how low down my list I would put my self-care. I worked myself into the ground in work, college, university, relationships and parenting. I gave it all until there was nothing else to give. And in February 2016, after a terrible Winter with Jack’s asthma, my fibromyalgia, and Jack barely sleeping, my grandmother died. And within a week I went from full-time student and working mum, to null-time student who had suspended her studies – and I told my boss to stick her job up her ass. Literally. I also cried for two hours after I did that. But I finally pulled up my big girl pants and said “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”.
And so began a very long healing process. I took the time to find my feet as a parent to a child with ‘challenging behaviour’ because honestly, I was terrible at it before then. I took the time to figure out how to look after my body with my newly diagnosed Fibromyalgia. I also did a lot of sleeping. It was like I had to relearn how to be myself, but with only £680 a month to pay all the bills and feed us and keep us warm. It wasn’t all sunshine and daisies let me tell you.
Being a person is hard. Being a parent is hard. Being disabled is hard. Being a parent to a child with autism is often hard. Being overweight because of my last surgery is hard. And being a self-confidence-lacking, overweight, disabled parent to a child with autism is just hard as hell. We get through, but sometimes it means taking a little time out for myself!
Over the past three years my self-care has taken many forms. I’ve taken pills to manage my health, and I’ve stopped taking pills to improve my health. I’ve eaten for comfort, and I’ve learned how to eat to lose the weight I’ve gained that makes me feel sad. I’ve redecorated my home so it doesn’t bore me to be here. I’ve also thrown away a lot of things from the past that hold me back – old clothes and bad memories mainly.
But today, I’ve really been thinking about the things I do to make myself feel good, and I’ve put a little list together of my favourite ways and means to keep the joy flowing and to boost myself up when I am down.
- Beauty treatments: my hair is my pride and joy. It was originally a jaw-length blonde bob, but I have the most amazing hairdresser who has been doing my hair for around 3-4 years now and she’s spectacular. I now have a long flowing red to copper style that is gradually creeping down my back. Getting my hair done is a real treat! I also love having my nails done regularly, but when I’m feeling flush, I treat myself to lashes and brows at Lashloft. My baby sister’s salon is absolutely booming and getting an appointment is almost impossible without booking several months in advance, but OMG it’s worth it. I’m having the full works this week – hair today, and nails, lashes and brows at the end of the week. I’ll need it after the week we have planned!
- Pill, or not to Pill: I have painkillers and anxiety medicines. I did take them multiple times a day up until Christmas, but now I use them only when I truly feel at my worst and when nothing else has worked. If you have a headache, you take paracetamol. Why shouldn’t I take a beta-blocker when anxiety makes my heart pounds?!
- Rest, rest, rest: I usually allow one day a week for bed rest. This week is an exception because of how everything works out, but I always go to bed at a reasonable time and I try to be asleep by 10, allowing me 9 hours before the alarm goes off.
- Find an outlet: For me, my outlet is writing, crocheting, or listening to narrated CreepyPasta on Youtube. It depends what I need – a distraction, a cathartic release, or something to focus on in silence. I also play The Sims 3 a lot! When I feel like I am losing control of my life, I make a little person and control their life instead! Sometimes, I like to colour in too. I won a Harry Potter Colouring book at the tombola on Saturday!
- Surround Yourself By Good People: Life is too short for crappy coffee and rubbish friends. If your friends suck, ditch them and make new ones. I have had some terrible friends over the years who have been a real drain. Ask yourself of each of your friends, are they a tap, or a plughole; do they add to your “sink” or life, or drain the contents? Taps are keepers. Plugholes are to be discarded.
The most important thing about your self care is that is works for you, and that you find time for it. You wouldn’t try to use your phone if the battery was at 2%, so don’t treat your body that way. And always remember to balance your self-care between activities for physical and mental health. The joy is, though, that most things kill both birds with the same stone.