October 2018

This month I’ve been looking a lot at self care and what this personally means to me. It’s different for everybody.

And I don’t want us to confuse self care with self pampering, which while lovely, isn’t what we actually need. Real self care often looks like the sort of thing we don’t want to do rather than what we desire. To illustrate this I will run you through a recent scenario which proved my point to me. 
I was at a function the other night where the alcohol was running freely and I felt like a passive onlooker as I watched others laughing and getting sillier with each glass they had. I found myself salivating at the thought of drinking and went through my usual process of ‘maybe I could just have one’ knowing full well one will lead to 21. More inside my head conversations like ‘I would be having fun if I could drink’, ‘without booze I just don’t enjoy partying anymore, ‘I could really do with a good blowout’ and then came the comparison of ‘why can other people drink and I can’t?’

Now there are several very good reasons why I choose not to drink. Being a WLS person I have learnt first hand what alcohol does to my body. About 1 year into my surgery I started drinking again. I hadn’t been much of a drinker once I had children as hangovers and young kids were the worst and besides, my priorities had changed. However, post surgery, I got a similar dopamine hit from alcohol which I had previously got from food. That was thrilling. So too was all the attention I received while out indulging. It became my own way of escaping an unhappy home life.

So booze and promiscuity became my new ‘hit’. And one never existed without the other. Two things in time happened. Firstly, because I was ignorant of how alcohol affected my metabolism I was done for drunk driving one night when I thought I was under the limit. The shame of being arrested at 40 years old was horrifying. As a teacher I had to have a rather uncomfortable conversation with the Teachers Council, explaining my actions.

Secondly, my liver function tests were alarming. The stark realisation of transfer addiction was found in my results. I was slowly killing myself with booze just as I had been killing myself with food. I had a hard and brutally honest conversation with myself about the truth of my drinking. And what I discovered was that I was self harming when I thought I was just out having a good time. I made the decision to stop drinking and my liver repaired itself and I lost some of the dreaded regain that was piling back on.

However, I readily admit that I struggle being at a party where the main focus is to drink. I get bored, uncomfortable, anxious and fully want to either not go in the first place or go home early. The going home early I have now come to see, is my own way of self caring. Keeping myself safe. So self care is often being disciplined even when we want to stray off the path. Self care is being about to say no; both to myself and others. Self care looks like daily action which has lasting results to my future well being. 
A friend posted in a group I belong to recently, asking for some self care tips as she was a little stuck in what that meant for her. I sat there for a while asking myself just that. What does self care mean to me? This was the list I sent her:
-Taking a rest
-Moisturising myself from top to bottom (thin skin has meant when it’s dry it tears easier)
-Forcing myself to go to sleep when I could stay awake for days
-Getting my bloods done
-Having my B12 injection when I should
-Drinking enough water (this is a work in progress!)
-Taking my supplements 
-Eating enough protein 
-Practicing gratitude 
-Doing exercise 
-Having those hard honest conversations with myself 
-Doing my mirror activity daily (helps my own sense of worthiness)
-Spending time in nature
-Having those difficult conversations with others so my mind isn’t consumed with the what if’s, etc
-Writing letters to myself 
-Letting my skin have a little sun each day for the vitamin D and feel good factor 
-Finding something to laugh at
-Practicing daily affirmations
-Allowing myself to love and be loved.

What would your list look like? Is it self pampering or self care?

I invite you to write a list of your own. Feel free to share your list with me. I would love to extend my own list too.

And finally, as one of the biggest gifts of self care you can give yourself; know that you are enough just because you breathe.