It’s been hard to get started on a second post about self care, partly because I’ve felt like a bit of a fraud thinking about how to write about it when I have not been practicing good self care since the month began. I’ve been pushing too hard and flaming out almost daily. I am not even sure why.
Last week my focus was on self-acceptance, and how that has to be step one toward proper self care. Acknowledging that self-acceptance is a long process, however, we can’t get stuck on trying to “achieve” that before beginning to care for ourselves well.
I found this Self-Care Assessment Worksheet that may help you evaluate the areas of your life where you need better self care, and how to go about that. I think it’s pretty good, though a few line items slightly annoy me (“Love yourself” – okay, check! Done!). (Note: the link is temporarily not working as of the evening of June 8th. Looking into that.)
I made my own list of 10 Things I do to care for myself. I’m not sure it’s complete or completely accurate, but it’s a starting place. I would encourage anyone reading to make their own, and please share it here if you feel comfortable doing so!
1. Organizing the house. Getting rid of stuff we don’t need, tidying up. I often get overwhelmed to the point of not wanting to tackle the clutter, but I always feel amazingly better when things are in order. And conversely, I always feel unsettled and agitated when the house is a disaster.
2. Exercise. It pains me to admit this, because I like sitting around so much, but I do feel better when I keep up with whatever exercise routine I’ve been doing. At different points in my life exercise has different functions for me. Right now I’m doing small strength training workouts because building strength feels important.
3. Reading a great book. I love, I daresay need, to always be reading a book that I can hardly put down. I am almost never NOT in the middle of reading some kind of book, but I feel best and happiest when I’m in the middle of a book I really enjoy.
4. Listening to LOUD music. I know this is bad for my ears, but the tradeoff for feeling so good when I do it seems worth it. I listen to music mostly in the car, or on headphones at home. If the kids are contently playing by themselves in the late afternoon when I’m doing housework or starting dinner, I find that 10 minutes of superloud music in my headphones relaxes me about as much as one alcoholic drink.
5. Sensory breaks/meditation. My therapist has recommended that I take a sensory break every two to three hours, but I haven’t been able to achieve that yet. I set a personal goal to do it four times a day, but I usually only squeeze in one or two: I lie down, put headphones in, and listen to a short soundscape meditation on my Pacifica app. It’s sometimes hard to relax if I can hear the kids in the background, but if I get even two minutes of peace, it’s so restoring.
6. Writing blog posts. I do this for my own well being. This blog is not monetized beyond the trickle of Amazon affiliate rewards that do not even offset the cost of WordPress hosting, but no matter. Nothing compares to the feeling of publishing a blog post that I feel good about.
7. Downtime at home. This is where I have really been falling down on the job lately. I know that I need a certain number of days when I just stay home, and it’s more than once a week, but sometimes I push myself to get out and do All The Things, and I inevitably regret it. Time doing stuff must be balanced with time not doing stuff.
8. Watch TV… alone. Similar to reading a good book, I just love to watch a show that takes me to another world for a while. I watch shows with Mike and that’s fun too, but watching alone is a different experience and more relaxing. Usually I can only get to this at night, in bed, just before going to sleep. Which may be a no-no. But I enjoy it anyway.
9. Sleep. I need 8 hours a night. I’m not sorry. I just need that. These days, I usually get it too. Even then I am still often very tired by the end of the day. I *think* this is related to autism and not always managing my sensory/social needs well, but I am planning to get a checkup to rule out medical issues causing my frequent fatigue.
10. Eat delicious food. I’ve decided. I like to eat the things I like and I’m not going to feel bad about it. Recently I tried to – well, let’s call it what it is, “diet” a little bit, and I was pretty miserable. I like salty foods, spicy foods, bitter drinks, rich flavors. I don’t eat crap, but I also don’t nibble on leaves all the livelong day and I don’t want to. Trying to eat a certain way sucks all the joy out of it for me.
I feel that my top 10 are very achievable, which is probably part of why I chose them. They are treats for myself that make me feel good but don’t make me feel like I need to rearrange my entire life in order to do them. I’m all about attainable goals right now, and small changes.