Like when you are ill or having a stressful time, the times when you need to practice self-care the most. Why is it then the first thing we throw out the window?
There is no right or wrong answer here, more of an insight into my life type blog looking at why we tend to self-sabotage ourselves when we really need to up our self-care.
Case and point.
My mum passed recently, I was in the throes of training for a strongwoman competition while bringing up my son, ensuring work had everything they needed from me and being the contact for people that wanted to be kept in the loop about mum's arrangements. Thankfully, leading up to this, I had two years of talking therapy under my belt, plus a year's working of mindset work. I had gone through all the scenarios I could think of with my support systems, I had "things" I could do and people I could go to all in place. Most people don't and even as an informed person that knew what I needed to do to keep my mental health in check, there were times when comfort eating took the place of meditating, and late nights numbing my brain with Netflix replaced my early morning training session.
It made me question why we do this. Why do we find it so hard to do the activities that we know make us happier and head to the sabotage button when we are on that downward path. Know that practising self-care is so rewarding for your mental health, but when you're already feeling low, it can prove challenging to get out of bed, let alone write in your journal of positive affirmations. It almost seems like one of life's biggest challenges to look after yourself and do the things you enjoy.
The grief puddle
So I spoke about this with my counsellor. And she knows I love a theory. First, she said well done at being self-aware then went on to say that grief and episodes are like puddles.
Now, this analogy is usually something that is used to explained children's reaction to grief and trauma. But the simplicity and explanation of it instantly resonated with me.
There are some that you jump in and straight out of again because you can. Some that you don't see coming. Some are a bit deeper, and you stay in there a bit longer thinking how to get out - and that is ok. We all need to splash in a puddle once in a while. The key is knowing when the time is right to get out.
So when is the time right to get out?
That is something for you to decide. The tipping point tends to be when being in that puddle is now becoming the norm, and your emotional and physical health is starting to take a toll. Rather than it being a healthy release emotion, it is beginning to consume you.
How do I know I am in a puddle?
Believe me. You will know. For me it can be any of the following:
- Gut-wrenching heartbreak
- When I start to be cynical about everything
- When carrying out "normal" tasks seem overwhelming
- A conversation that brings up memories
- Feeling sensitive about "things" that before would not have bothered me
- Struggling to look after me and not carrying out any self-care
Puddles are personal, but you certainly know when you are in one.
Tips for getting out of the puddle
As I said previously, sometimes it can be hard to do your day-to-day rituals when dealing with the self-sabotage demons and deep puddles. But here are a few things that I have implemented and have learnt about to help you get out of a puddle.
- Put together a funk plan. When the puddles are not proving easy to jump out of I have a list of songs, programmes, places that I can listen to, watch or go to that make me feel better.
- Make lists. If it is a deep puddle, I make a list of what I need to achieve. This list is realistic and includes self-care actions like - have a bath, to ensure that I am not just distracting myself, I am caring for myself.
- Avoid what irritates you. There is nothing easier than when in the puddle to keep yourself there with endless social scrolling, or hating on people. If anything, keep your devices away from you. Unless it is to listen to music or arrange something with someone that nourishes your soul.
- Make sure you get enough sleep, water and eat well.
The most important fact to remember is that self-care is self-made. Only you can decide what works best for you and when. But we are human, we all have puddle moments, and that is ok too. The key is to acknowledging them and then working the kindest way to help yourself out.