Sometimes I feel like I’m running from a bear… the ominous term my partner and I use to refer to the burden of stress.
We are all familiar with the bear; maybe it visits you in the thumping of your heart, or the cyclical thoughts that keep you awake at night. However it visits, the bear encompasses our fear of failure, of not being enough, of not doing enough, of not being respected.
The bear is anxiety and sadness and unhealed trauma. It keeps us from caring for ourselves and of course, from providing helpful care for each other. It’s very difficult to love someone else properly, while our own cup is empty. It’s the reason we can find ourselves leaching our needed energy from the people we love, draining them of their resources. It’s the reason we over-eat, drink, and drown our sorrows in Netflix and 2X4 screens only to turn around and see that the bear has doubled in size and strength. It’s a culture-wide issue.
Here is what I have learned…I can only minimize the bear, with self care.
For me, that typically follows a levelling up system that looks something like this….(Mamaslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?)
Basic physical care…. showering, brushing teeth, combing hair, eating healthy food, adequate rest…
Once I’ve cared for my physical body, I can add in…
Daily spiritual needs… a few minutes to myself, something interesting to read or learn, a few minutes of intentional movement, fresh air
And then I can work on more detail and routine…
30 minutes of exercise, a course to expand my knowledge, meditation, an artistic project…Once I hit this level, I start to feel like I’m making progress.
Most importantly, completing steps on my personal self-care checklist as though they are tasks to be ticked will give me the same sort of emptiness that comes from a household chore to-do list unless I complete them with the right intention….that I, too, deserve to be cared for, and that these few moments will help me step into the real me. Before I know it, the bear is just large enough to drive me, but small enough for me to know peace.
Mother of Hays
It’s early in the morning. The kind of early I spent my entire childhood and young adult years dreading. I drag myself out of my warm, cocooned nest and thump down the stairs, in spirit, since doing so in actual reality would likely wake the littles.
I stumble into the front room and roll out my yoga mat. Its familiar click onto the floor reminds me of a simpler time when my eyes were less tired and my hair less grey. Even if I just lay here, I think to myself, I’m further ahead than I have been. And with these words, I provide myself the comfort that comes from a lack of self-imposed pressure. I’ll just fold into child’s pose and see where this goes. Before I know it, my body is remembering the sequences of movement that provided my peace and guidance years ago…when I had time to make for self care.
All of my expertise in this area stems from a consecutive 2 days of daily exercise, meditation, and fresh air, and 9+ years of neglecting myself. I have ample experience in being too busy, in forgetting my value, something that can easily occur while providing care around the clock for others.
It is true that there are times when life gets in the way. In my case, young children mean that care for myself comes only when there is time. When our babies are very young, often the care of myself means making time to eat and to sleep while they do. The problem I’ve always run into is that this doesn’t help my spirit to thrive. Often, I spend those first 2 years in survival mode, despite the cultural belief that by 3 months, 6months, 12 months, everything should be back to normal.
Although Sparrow’s timely step towards that two-year-old mark has played a role in my ability to carve out a small piece of time for my own care, it has been a deeper understanding of self-worth that has truly lit my fire within for growth. When I remind myself that I am valuable, that I am worth a few minutes, that I am more important than the laundry being folded (though those menial tasks are valuable to me and my wellness), I begin to feel successful.
This isn’t to say that I feel that I am worthless. I have a good life. I’m a good person. I like myself a healthy amount. I’m not saying that I feel as though I lack value, but I realized that my actions were telling me this. Too many times I’d wait until I finished cleaning the kitchen before I’d take a simple bathroom break. I felt I didn’t ‘need’ new clothes because there was always something more ‘important’ for us to spend our money on. Always. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t relax until all of the work was done, so I never relaxed. I’m worthy of a break.
So Hey You! Person reading this blog of mine.
- Thanks. It feels nice to know my thoughts aren’t being ignored
- You are valuable and deserving of good things. Cut yourself some slack
Mother of Hays