I don't feel like I ever was specifically taught, "this is what self-care is." In fact, in the Christian Science upbringing, I was actively taught to deny my bodily existence. If my body was hurting, I was to turn to god and pray. I was taught to be grateful for pain, because it was telling me I needed to pray more.
The strictest Christian Scientists say that their version of prayer (called "Christian Science treatments") is the very BEST care. Doctors are 2nd in line. Praying to god is supposed to be able to heal absolutely everything.
I am now out of the Christian Science belief system, and I definitely have a human body. I'm learning how to take care of it, too. It's a work in progress. But I am definitely working on making progress.
I am starting to realize what self care ACTUALLY is. I don't believe it has anything to do with candles or nail polish or hand lotion or soft socks or whatever other things you can spend money on for things that look pretty in a store.
I have come to the conclusion that self-care includes things like:
- drinking water
- making good choices about what foods to eat and what foods to eat less of
- taking care of your body by bathing it and tending to its needs
- taking prescribed medicines when needed, and at the appropriate times
- giving your body ample rest time, for me this often includes a nap in the middle of the day
- exercising (this is something that I am still working on getting up to doing, but that is a whole other journey for me to work out. I am just not there yet.)
Well, I have seriously struggled with ALL of those for YEARS. I think all of those, I haven't done for the bulk of my 48 years. Seriously. I had a friend one time (Stacey, who I mentioned in a previous blog post about vision impairment & accommodating our friends with low vision) comment that she had no idea how I could be up and walking around and presenting as basically a healthy, normal person, when I had so many issues. But when you're taught to deny your body's existence from a very young age (let's say: birth), you can walk around as present as normal no matter what you're feeling. People who live with chronic pain know exactly what I am talking about here.
Anyway, so I have, FOR DECADES, tried to come up with "a schedule." I know that having a schedule - a routine - would help me thrive. I just couldn't come up with such a thing! It was so frustrating and I am learning now that I have been very cruel to myself inside my own head about not being able to do something that so many people find to be easy.
Oh, by the way, my vision issues can make me present as if I have ADHD. Folks who have ADHD also struggle to come up with a schedule or a routine. I don't know if I have ADHD. Maybe when my vision issues are resolved, we can see if things start coming more easily. (A psychologist did diagnose me with ADHD several years ago, though.)
I wanted to do the syntonics / light therapy, but didn't have a spot set up for me to do this, I had no consistency. I would do it at the dining room table, by shoving aside my watercoloring or homeschooling papers. I tried it standing up in my kitchen with the lamp coming out of a cabinet (this was before I was given the spotlight I now have; I had a clip on lamp and needed a place to clip it on!)... I tried doing the syntonics in bed but then I needed a place to put this lamp when I was done.... A few times I forgot it was on my bed and I knocked it off in the middle of the night. Thank goodness the bulb didn't break!!!!
Well, I got to thinking about our living room and furniture. I had a sweet little writing desk that I love, and it was holding a lot of our dog items like dog bags and medicines and the paperwork for our dog. Meanwhile, other dog things were spread everywhere - toys, grooming, clothes for her ...
I have a piece of furniture called a "bachelor's chest" that I love. I refinished it with black paint. It has 4 drawers and a pullout thing that can be used to write at. I had my sons move our furniture around. We replaced the little writing desk with the bachelor's chest, and now all of our dog's things are in the drawers of that. (Very tidy!) and we put the little writing desk in my room and got rid of one of my side-tables.
I put the syntoics spotlight lamp on the little writing desk. it has a little ledge at the back for me to put my indigo and dark forest green glasses on. And I set my little Alexa / Echo timer on it, too. I also put my Thai Chi (vision exercises) paperwork on there too, so it is my little vision therapy area now!
Once I set that up and had a dedicated space for it, suddenly I found a new rhythm to my life! I am so excited to announce that for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I am starting to build a routine!
I also started going to physical therapy (3 times a week) for my shoulders. I have something called "armoring" due to my Complex PTSD. This means my muscles are ALWAYS tensed in my shoulders and neck. I never relax them. I have to consciously work very hard to relax them. Doctors, massage therapists, physical therapists have all commented on it - my muscles that don't relax. Believe me, I want to be able to relax them. The constant tension in them causes constant pain. Over time, it creeps up to my neck and I can't move my head, like for driving and checking the lane to my left when I need to merge. Combine that with my vision issues, and honestly, I am not sure I want to drive anymore. Sigh.
Well, in typical Jodi-fashion, I have digressed from the topic - AGAIN.
So I started this nightly routine of taking my medicine, going to the bathroom, brushing my teeth, flossing, rinsing with mouthwash, washing my face, putting on my night medicine on my face, then going to my room, changing into my pajamas, then sitting down with the spotlight to do my syntonics. It takes about half an hour to do all of this. After doing it for a while, I realized: "I have a routine! THIS is what "self-care looks like!"
When I started the recent therapy on my shoulders, they gave me exercises to do at home too. I added in lying down on a yoga mat and manipulating my arms and shoulders in a way they told me to do. I also added in what my vision therapist has wanted me to do for a year now - Moro Splat movements. So my nightly routine now has vision therapy and shoulder therapy combined. I am so proud of myself for having come so far to do this basic self-care routine now. This is HUGE for me!
I also have a morning routine now - self-care. I have a shake I make for breakfast. I have a vitamin supplement in liquid form that I take. I take my heart medicine and other vitamins in the morning. And then I make some herbal tea. Because of my heart medicine, I am no longer drinking coffee (which I am finally admitting to myself that I never enjoyed anyway; it has never been my "thing" but I felt socially pressured to drink the stuff), and I also no longer drink any kind of wine or spirits. They are also not really my "thing." Although I also felt socially pressured to drink. I feel so much better now, drinking lots of herbal tea and also water. My favorite teas are either Dandelion Root tea or Lemon Ginger tea. Oh, also Peppermint tea. I should do a whole blog post just on tea. I really should. I have so much to say about it! Hahaha.
It feels so good to have the morning and evening self-care routines now.
I hope that this post will help others learn what self-care means, and what a routine might look like.