Thursday, November 17, 2016
The concept of self care is a big deal right now. We live fast paced lives that instantly give us options to do more and access information instantly. The only way to slow down is through conscious choice to do so.
Self care is stressed in the graduate program I'm in as well. It makes total sense that mental health care clinicians need to take care of themselves to be able to prime the well and avoid burn out.
There is something about self care that eludes me though. I have always taken the approach of work first, and play in your free time. The assumption is that free time is free because your work is finished. It seems to me that the concept of self care is that you have to schedule in time to take care of yourself no matter how much work you have. Taken to an extreme, that sounds to me like shirking responsibilities or procrastinating.
Also, some of the self care events that my student organization hosts for us are not what I would call self care. I recognize that unstructured social time is both fun, and a necessary part of being a balanced, high functioning human being. However, as an introvert, I don't find social interaction a way to recharge. Recharging and doing things for me involve activities that reduce external stimulus and are calming.
I am not saying I don't do self care. I love cooking and do so when I just need to feel comforted. I schedule significant time for biking and going to the gym. Both of these are fun and good for me and help me let go of school demands for a time. However, they also use up energy and sometimes make me tired and sore. I am good at taking care of me by managing my domestic chores, preventative healthcare, regular haircuts, and eating and sleeping as much as I should. I see all of these tasks as automatic givens though and don't consider these activities self care either.
So, in my plodding, pondering, obsessive way, I am still contemplating the idea of self care. Is my weekly therapy sessions, gym visits, or weekly long bike rides self care? Bike riding is one of my favorite activities and I've dedicated several hours a week to it for the sake of the hobby. This activity may be the closest I have to pure self care.
Wednesday and Thursday nights I am usually pretty brain dead since we are in class all Wednesday and Thursday from 9 to 4. I would like to figure out activities that are self care on Wednesday and Thursday nights because I am not able to do homework. I am also not able to read for pleasure as my eyes actually hurt after looking at Power Points for 2 days straight. So I need ideas for things to do that don't require learning anything, reading, looking at glowing screens, are cheap, and can be recharging. TV falls mostly into the glowing screen category. I also don't have a lot of space for more debating or stories.
So far I've come up with the following:
listening to music and burning incense
looking at artwork and pictures
yoga should probably be on this list
Anybody have other suggestions for relaxing ways to recharge when you're mentally drained but not ready to sleep yet? The here is that I'm trying to not zone out.