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Self-care is incredibly important. It is not something that ever came naturally to me so I had to learn it. Like sit down in a class and learn specific steps on how to take care of myself (I kid you not, I took a class: Brené Brown’s Living Brave Semester).

Learning to listen and take care of myself took longer than any other part of recovery (including letting go of weight-loss as a goal) and continued well into Recovered. My eating disorder was rooted in self-loathing and magnified by anxiety and depression. At first, even the idea of taking time to care for myself triggered anxiety. My eating disorder told me self-care was selfish and had to be earned. Consequently, I never felt worthy of self-care.

Brené Brown taught me I was worthy of self-care just as I was (am) and that self-care would, in fact, make me more selfless. Because when we take care of our own needs we are more open to others and less likely to spread feelings of negativity and shame. She taught me how to give myself permission to take care of myself and set boundaries. She assured me this would make me a better mom, wife and friend.

And she was right. I am a better mom (read: more patient), wife and friend when I take care of myself. To be fair, self-care is still a work-in-progress. Sometimes I get lost in the stress of a moment (for example: lose my temper with the boys or snap at a loved one for little to no reason) because I think I can “handle it” and not take time for myself. In those moments, my feelings of stress, anxiety and negativity find a way to negatively impact someone else.

Rather than berate myself or pile on an abundance of shame, in those moments I try to regroup and focus on self-care.I remind myself that when we get on a plane, the flight attendant tells us if we lose cabin pressure to put on our mask first and then our child’s mask. Because we’re not going to be much use to our children if we can’t breathe. Whenever I start to feel guilty or selfish about taking time for self-care, I repeat this to myself as a mantra. It helps give me permission to focus on what I need.

As I continue to grow, I continue to learn new ways to take care of myself. One of those ways is puzzlin’.

Oh how I love to puzzle (and oh, have I been doing a lot of puzzles lately). Give me a 1000 or 500 piecer and I am content. When my anxiety flares up and starts to make everything in my head get all tangled up in a negative and uncomfortable web, shifting my focus to a puzzle helps. It gives my brain something active to focus on. To solve. Something tangible I can look at and see progress. It helps. It both distracts and soothes at the same time.

Happy Monday Friends 🙂 Puzzle on!

 

 

 

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