For me, self-care has been a learning experience and an acquired skill. Growing up in the US, I was not taught to prioritize my own well-being, or really anyone’s well-being for that matter. I was taught to work, earn and consume. There’s a lot of focus in the US on having things and having an excess of money. We learn to value money and material things when we are in elementary school, maybe even younger. And while money facilitates self-care, money does not guarantee self-care. There are plenty of resourced people who don’t take good care of themselves and are not truly happy nor healthy. Although I don’t want to ignore the fact that self-care is difficult, if not impossible, for many low-income people in the US. But in my experience, few Americans are taught to value being well or given much idea about what brings well-being to individuals, families and communities. I know this from my own experiences.
When I was 23, I burned myself out. I’d been living my life for 23 years as an anxious perfectionist. It had never been a problem so there was no incentive for me to change. But then it did become a problem. I had way too much stress in my life and some trauma. Instead of taking it easy and giving myself a break, I pushed myself harder. I didn’t try any strategies to manage my anxiety or cope with the awful sh*t that was going down in my life. And the end result was that I had a nervous breakdown. It was small but yeah, it really was a legit breakdown. Now I know I was traumatized and trying to hang in there as best I could. But it was only after that happened that I realized the true importance of self-care. That point in my life would still have been very difficult but I may have weathered it all better. Stronger.
The more stress you have in your life, the more important it is to be good to yourself. I know that now but it is still a constant battle for me. I feel compelled to do, do, do. It is so hard for me to sit and just be.
I like going online and reading the news and blogs and learning. I love keeping this blog – mainly for myself but it’s nice when I see that others are reading and sometimes liking what I write. But the internet creates more pressure – at least for me, and I don’t think I’m the only one. There’s 24-hour access to almost everyone’s lives and the most breaking news stories. And if you try to keep up, you’ll find that once you’ve finished reading this minute’s news, there’s been five more minutes each minute with their own breaking news. And then you go on Facebook or whatever and you think, ‘Wow, this person made this dinner and that dessert’ and ‘this person wrote two new posts on her blog.’ And ‘what have I been doing? How do I keep up?’ Because that’s the other crucial piece of our American culture – hyper competition. So being productive rapidly takes on a new and exaggerated meaning that’s compounded with our need to be better, be the best.
And so I’m stepping back. Even though I have time to write on this blog everyday, now that my wedding and home-buying journeys are done. I love writing about my passions and social justice. But it can be exhausting. And it makes no sense to do Domestic Violence work all day and come home to exhaust myself further. I am my own resource and if I exhaust that.. well, what good does that do?
So I’m making a conscious and diligent effort to post on this blog no more than once a week. I want to see how and who I am when I’m not falling prey to my (and the US’) need to be hyper-productive. We’ll see what comes from this.
And for now, I’m gonna curl up under a blanket, snuggle with my hubs and watch the World Series. GO SOX! C’mon, we know Boston needs some happy news at the end of this year.