Don’t Care Self-Care

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Find what makes your heart sing and create your own music.

Mac Anderson

Self-care is a necessity (I know, dammit!).  It is also a pain in the backside for a lot of us, and pretty way down the list of priorities in our busy lives.  It is a complete faff and hard to do regularly.  It is also completely irritating because there are often other things that we would rather be doing.

I find the whole shebang a lot of touchy-feely-shrieky-squealy nonsense.  I think I came close to losing the self-care plot when there was a concerted attempt to introduce me to the cathartic benefits of naked chanting – a ‘Must Do!’ Apparently!

Nah …

I can never, ever imagine a scenario where I would have the remotest wish to whip off my drawers and grunt into the ether.  But, as much as I do not like the touchy-feelies, the fact remains that self-care is the thing that helps us to toddle along at whatever optimum we can achieve.  It gives us positivity, motivation and energy, which will only come by taking care of the body and mind we are stuck with from the cradle to the grave.  In short, we must optimise the time we have on this earth, dancing among the daisies, and less planted in it pushing them up.

It’s also a sad fact that age brings a dip in our power to push forward, so it is essential to build energy reserves as often and effectively as possible.

Self-care will help do that – the sanctimonious, goody two-shoed little mare …

There is, I’m delighted to say, some good news amongst my nay-sayery – namely, that any self-care regime can be exactly what you want it to be but benefits you the most.

I call mine ‘Don’t-Care-Self-Care’ – and it is thus –

Maybe not the best, but the one I can live with …

I gave up a long time ago striving to be the best possible version of myself that I could be, and have now accepted that I am the version of myself that I can live with … most of the time …

This version is rather a good one and we co-exist close to something amounting to harmony, which is absolutely crucial because I don’t particularly want to spend the rest of my life not speaking to myself.

Not quite so angry …

My temper is the stuff of legend but, surprisingly for someone of such historical (and past highly hysterical) volcanic inclination, I no longer raise my voice – especially not in a disagreement.  You may think this has nothing to do with self-care, but it does!  When you get shouty, your blood pressure and stress levels rise, and I promise you that the length it can take to reach equilibrium causes a little more damage to well-being every time it happens.

Getting shouty with others is a form of one-upmanship – the loudest shouter believes they have won the argument.  It took me a long time to understand that I can win an argument by remaining calm.  It also comes with the absolute added joy of the expression on others faces as they try to work out why you are not upping your decibel level!

There is also much to be said for picking your battles – not just with others but with yourself.  I still often get angry but have managed to take the edge off of it.

It has made me calmer and more reasoned.  I feel better for it.

Ship out the sugar …

Christmas 2018 saw me bed bound with the worst flu I have ever had.  I didn’t eat for just over a week and had very little appetite for all of January and the early part of February.  When I did start to get my appetite back, I discovered that by some wonderful alchemy I couldn’t face eating anything sugary or salty.

At the time of writing this (September 2019) I have shed about 32 kilos (or 71 lbs in old money).  I no longer get overly hungry, never feel the need to snack between meals and eat roughly half of what I used to.

It has been transformative, and for the first time in my entire life I am not playing around with some form of faddy diet – I feel free.

I’m not being smug – I know how hard it can be to stick to a healthy diet – but I just wanted to write this to emphasise how my new understanding of the destructive and tyrannical power of refined sugar has helped me.

Got a wiggle on …

I walk.  I’ve tried virtually everything else from gym membership, team sports, and even New York Ballet workout classes, which was not so much a case of the dance of the sugar plum fairy but more the shuffle of the sugar plum duff.  I hate most forms of exercise apart from walking.  My main motivator is a pedometer and I try and do 15,000 steps a day, of which about 8,000 are aerobic ones.  I do more at weekends if I can but don’t beat myself up if I fall short on one or two days.

I am so darned stupid at times …!

Oh, I haven’t given up on criticising myself – in fact, I am my greatest critic and that is not likely to change any time soon.  BUT – I have become more constructive and rely less on baseless attribution of all ills.  If I make a mistake – then yes, I’m a plank.  I acknowledge it and move on. However, if something goes wrong that I really wanted to go right – I examine the facts and understand why.  I’ve also learned to accept that sometimes things happen because they just do, and not because of anything I have done or could have done to change the result.

Not necessarily learning to love …

I don’t love myself and, again, that state is unlikely to change.  I do like myself and that is as good as it is going to get.  That has come from acceptance of who I was, who I have become, and who I will always be.  I have many faults and I live with them.  I also acknowledge that I have many fine qualities and they balance out the faults.

There is nothing wrong in acknowledging that you don’t love yourself, but if you can get to a state of at least liking then that is good enough.  There is much made of loving who you are, but it only becomes a bad thing if it really does bother you and is destructive – so do understand the difference.  If you like yourself there is no need to wear yourself out looking for the love element.

The moment that very rarely comes ..

Mindfulness – Nope!

I have torn myself into shreds trying to be mindful, as I have been told that it is good for me.  I don’t think it is – I get more stress from trying to be calm and living in the moment that I do when not.  I am just a busy minded person and I like it that way.  I am virtually incapable of living in the moment for any length of time – five minutes is probably my limit (when I try hard).  I mention my lack of this because I cannot possibly be the only person who is like this and I want to drum home that if you can be mindful then good for you, but if you have tried and find it a lost cause then don’t destroy yourself over it.

They can squeal all they like – I ain’t listening …

Alternative therapies and the like are, to my mind, the shrieky-squealy element of self-care.   I’ve tried a few and probably the closest I have come to enjoyment is yoga, but not enough to keep at it.  I really can’t be arsed, and have gotten to the point now that I’m not going to waste my time.  I tried to get into meditation but I got into such a chuff over my chakras that I would have actually found chucking a few glasses of single malt down my throat more relaxing – I’m just not a meditative person so there was no way it was going to contribute to my energy levels or well-being.

Sometimes it really is all about me …

I don’t have a lot of me time, but I have found it beneficial to have a focal point in the week where I set aside a few hours with no fixed timetable, and to do what the fancy takes me.  Mine is Sunday morning 7-10, and it is sacrosanct – there would have to be a near catastrophic emergency for me to abandon it.  I only missed one Sunday last year and that was whilst bedridden with flu – that is how much it means to me.

It was my mess, so I cleaned it up …

In my teens I was an Olympic, gold medal class clutter-slut-bucket – my bedroom was a total tip.  I can’t claim to have been much better in my early twenties, but now I stand (okay, sit …) before you as the girl who even has colour coordinated paper clips …

I’m not a paragon – I’m just someone who has lived both untidy and tidy – and know which one makes me feel the best.

Well, to be honest …

It has gotten me into more trouble than I have had hot dinners, but honesty is the value that I hold most dear.  I am honest with myself and with others.  The message is not always well received, but I wake each morning knowing that I am not going to deceive, and I end each day knowing that I have been true.  It is the value that keeps my conscience clear, my path straight and my emotional baggage so much lighter.

That’s about it, and I get to keep my drawers on …

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