Re-learning self-care tactics // when you feel like you've hit rock bottom.

Sunday, February 5, 2017
I have talked about this before. I have found burnout and kept it around as a playmate - someone that I don't actually like that much, but I know them well so I don't really know how to let them go. I have struggled and sworn, flailed and screamed, cried my heart out, and lost my emotions to the deep dark pit of depression.

I have lost my light before. I have lost what I thought I had learned by rote. I have looked around at my new surroundings and wondered why they look so different, why I can't remember how to switch my sparkle back on.

Self-care, self-compassion, self-love. Self-everything. Their important. But they seem to be so important that sometimes we take them for granted. We shift them to the backs of our minds, thinking that it will keep happening anyway, we don't need to manage it all the time! We're too busy keeping up with life, keeping up with the Joneses. Showing off how busy, and helpful, and balanced we are!

Until we're not balanced anymore. Ideas kind of stop coming. The well dries up. The heart continues to beat, but it isn't life-affirming anymore. It's survival mode, and the colour has drained from everything, and we can't remember why we were doing the things anyway, what were we doing? How did we get here?

How did we get here. And how do we pull ourselves out. There are so many self-help (there's that self- prefix again!) books around to try to show you, but honestly sometimes they don't work specifically for you. They are generally catered to the masses, or they are catered to the one who wrote it. You have to cherry-pick - find the ones that look the juiciest, the most delicious ones that make your mouth water and your stomach do a little flip in anticipation (okay now I really want cherries).

an old picture of my old bedroom - a place I designed to be the ultimate in self-care.

In the interest of helping your little cherry-picking endeavours along, I wanted to list a few that are helping me find my feet lately. This is also a reminder to myself (hi there!) to return to when things go a bit colourless.

1. sweet routines
Oh, how I love little actions. Sometimes I get lost in the idea of going big - holidays abroad, starting out a huge new hobby to shake things up, etc. But the things that bring a little zing back to my life? Immersing myself in the routine of making a cup of tea, just for me. Picking out a mug or a cup, or even making a pot (I have a pretty sweet collection of all of these). Which tea do I feel like? How long should I steep? Setting up a little area all my own, with my tea, maybe a little snack, even lighting a candle (getting a bit fancy now). Things like this just remind me to take a step back from the whirlpool in my brain and to breathe. Perhaps you have some little routines that might help? A yoga stretch? Running your hands over your bookshelves? Going outside?

2. contacting loved ones
I honestly resist this one the most. I get all locked up in my mind about it - 'they have their own stuff going on, they don't need me dumping stuff on them!', 'what if they are really busy and just can't deal with my stuff right now?', and, scariest of all, 'what if they just don't like me anymore and they're trying to slowly phase out of my life?'. (Yes, I have some paranoia issues around friendship. I don't think I'm the first!)
Honestly, if you have thoughts like mine, or even if you don't, you need to get through the squishy-unsure-space and just send a text, or an email, or give someone a call. Heck, even writing a letter can help you feel better (hmm, poetry material write there). Being social and chatting to someone you care about can remind you that you aren't alone, that there are people that care about you, and that you have valuable things to bring to the table. In the course of speaking to friends and family members, I have realised just how cruel I can be to myself sometimes, and also helped others with their issues. Being a good friend/daughter/sister/wife is one of the things I bring to the table as often as I can, and I am always trying to better myself - it is a strength of mine. Maybe you have something similar? 

Physical touch, if it is something you feel comfortable with, is also great. A hug with someone you love increases levels of oxytocin, which makes you feel all happy and lovey. Yay!

3. nesting
okay, this one relates back into the first one, and also the second one if you want to do this with a loved one around (or more that one! totally up to you). Nesting is just what I call it when you make yourself all nice and cozy, either on a couch, in bed, or on the floor, and then you proceed to do relaxing and cheering things for as long as you feel necessary.
This one I find especially helpful when I am feeling a little emotional, maybe a little teary. I sometimes make a Bethwyn-burrito (me wrapped in a blanket) and just chill until I feel a bit better.
Basic components for nesting include: blankets, pillows, cuddly things (living or toys), favourite drinks and foods, and favourite tv shows and/or movies. Set yourself up and settle in for a nice morning/afternoon/day of gentleness. Nesting is sometimes absolutely necessary (what some people call a 'mental health day'), and I highly recommend it for showing yourself some love and compassion.

Like I said before, try to cherry-pick what works for you. Some things will help you, some won't, and some will need some tweaking to feel just right for you. However you show yourself some self-love, I hope this post will give you a little nudge towards doing something nice for yourself today.

Love to all who read.

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