In the rise of panic, I have told myself not to even engage with a single fearful thought. In the weight of sadness, I have come home from work to overeat pizza and ice cream. In the flicker of doubt, I have drank an extra glass of wine to feel confident. I have numbed my mind scrolling through social media and watching television. None of those things have helped me. They have never made me feel better when they were over. They led me to avoid, repress, or momentarily forget, like a pacifier to pain.
This is because these things are not healthy self-care. No, they are not. I am sorry to say it, but it is true. Healthy self-care is done with mindfulness, intention, and quality time. It is done to preserve one’s own well-being. It is done to improve health. It is not done to avoid, repress, or forget.
When we practice self-care, it should make us feel renewed, empowered, and hopefully, better. It should not cause us to feel sluggish or hung over. Healthy self-care is journaling about our thought processes. It is meditating on the present moment. It is moving our body to release endorphins. It is stretching to help our bodies rest. It is surrendering to God, praying, and giving gratitude. It is doing things one at a time. It is going for a walk and staying present with the blue skies. It is getting into nature, sometimes getting our hands right in the dirt. In turn, we feel renewed, restored, and rejuvenated. That is self-care.
I will probably use pizza, wine, or television to numb my mind again. Yes, sometimes I enjoy it. However, if every time I struggle, I simply numb the pain, I will never face what I need to face. I will never grow. I will add on to the scar tissue of my problems, leaving me with dysfunction and continuous pain. Instead, if I open myself to my emotions, allow myself to experience them, and then let them pass, I can learn and grow. I will be able to be present in all aspects of my life, which is truly living.
If you are having a bad day, give one of these options I mentioned a try. Simply five minutes of healthy, intentional self-care can make a huge difference. Try to resist the need to put a band-aid on your problems. Be wherever you are. Know that is a great place to be.