A Week Of Self Care Experiment – The Outcome

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A few weeks ago, I talked about trying out a week of self care experiment.  I was going on a trip where most of my self care managing techniques (being close to loved ones, being in charge of my own schedule, being close to my pups) were stripped away.  I decided to spend the week observing the ways in which I exercised (or didn’t exercise) self care and what methods I used.  Well, the results are here!  Each day, I kept a diary of sorts…what things happened, any anxieties I was feeling, and how I reacted to myself.

Friday — leaving town, feeling stressed.  asked Brett to take the morning off which helped ease my feelings of anxiety a lot.  was nervous to drive the last shift of the day but I napped and got some caffeine before my turn to drive began.  Notes:  I felt stress and nerves but asked for what I needed or took care of myself as required.

Saturday — driving the rest of the way to SC.  felt actual disinterest in the rest of the trip away from home.  ignored myself until the feelings passed.  dinner…oh so tired.  Notes:  I actually ignored myself while feeling uncomfortable…

Sunday — church in the am, quick lunch, and afternoon in charleston.  kept losing the group I was walking with.  felt sad and excluded.  pep-talked with myself and ended up having a great time.  once back at our home base, packed lunch for the next day.  Notes:  Reminding myself that I was great company and totally willing and able to direct my own attention and take care of my needs was very helpful in soothing the feelings of discomfort and exclusion.  I anticipated my needs for the next day and took care of some of them ahead of time.

Monday — woke up first, took quick shower, and had time to relax a little before everyone else woke up.  rainy and cold at the work site.  felt uninterested and unenthusiastic by the work and weather.  providence brought a hardware store run (heat in the car!) and a long lunch.  then more rain, but also more laughter.  Notes:  I tried not to be too hard on myself while feeling lethargic but I also noticed that I ignored myself instead of attempting to provide comfort.

Tuesday — much nicer weather.  working felt easier.  evening schedule changed abruptly which annoyed me.  went with it, even ran after having taken a shower.  wrote a little.  Notes:  I like having a schedule and knowledge of how best to take care of myself.  The evening’s schedule was changed quickly and so I was completely ready for something that I then needed to wait another 2 hours for.  I hate that in normal life so handling it while on the trick felt difficult.  I went with the flow, took a run after having showered and you know what?  It worked out fine.

Wednesday — was better about being 100% ready to go instead of 98% ready to go and then being the last one out the door while taking care of the last 2%.  met 2 lovely pups who quickly stole my heart.  felt very vulnerable and experienced some frightening past and potential animal tragedies in my head while driving to and fro and while eating lunch.  deep breathed and thought calming, soothing, loving thoughts.  Notes:  I calmed myself like I would calm a friend and my feelings of anxiety and panic passed.

The rest of the week we were on a beach and far more in control of our food and our schedule.  Sooo I stopped writing self care entries 🙂  I had some trouble on the way home…I was having back spasms and experiencing quite a lot of pain.  Once I was able to control the physical pain though, my emotional stability improved as well.

Overall notes:  Near the start of the trip, I literally ignored myself while feeling anxious or apathetic.  This seems like a pretty miserable way to self care.  I would never ignore an anxious or sad friend so why do I ignore myself?!  Eventually I took control over my feelings of anxiety when they would arise.  I talked to soothe myself and relieve my panic, I preemptively balanced my need for personal space (waking up first) as well as other needs (making my lunch ahead of time and going for a run even though I’d already showered), and tried to frame these small tasks in my brain as acts of love and caring.  I was able to speak with my husband every night and he regularly sent me text message pictures of our pups.  I seem to default to talking my way out of panic.  I’d love to explore other ways of handling my self care when a crisis crops up.

The basic thing that I learned from this trip?  I handle my self care regularly but I still have a lot of work to do.  Ignoring myself seems like I tactic I should stop as soon as possible and developing other methods of self care, different from the soothing and calming self talk that I used, seems advantageous.  It was a nice proof though that I can, in fact, go totally outside of my comfort zone, take care of myself and others around me while having a good time.

How do you self care?  Any tips or tricks that we could share with others?