I am not a doctor or a medical professional. I do not play one on T.V. I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. This is just me nagging you, and really wishing you would remember to eat breakfast.
All joking aside, the other day I gazed around where I sat with friends, talking and sharing, and I noticed that everybody in the vicinity–not just my loved ones–seemed tired. Legit exhausted. Now, this is not a post about the inner workings of the government, or the nuts and bolts of what went down last week. This is, however, about the aftermath. In light of change, of grief and loss, of anger, of trauma, of confusion or shock, or even media exhaustion and gestalt stress, one of the fist things we forget to do is take care of ourselves.
I’m ever so sweetly wagging my finger when I say this, but if you do not take care of yourself, then how can you hope to be the best and most capable you that you can be? Also, self-care is self-love. If you are feeling a dearth of hope, feeling unloved, unheard, it is not a panacea fix-all or a huge, earth-shattering revelation of fix-it-ness, but self-care can go a long way in reminding you that you deserve to live, breathe, think, feel. That you deserve to not just survive, but thrive.
That you deserve to be loved.
That said, here is a gentle little checklist for Self-Care First Aid. Again, I am not a medical professional–these are simply basic things we can do to better prepare ourselves to be out there in the world, making it a brighter place.
- Are you hydrated? We are water, water is us. And if we do not drink water, every system in our body feels it. Those of us who are blessed to have access to clean, healthy water…let’s make use of it. Our bodies, brains, and hearts will thank us!
- When was the last time you ate? Vehicles do not function without fuel. We don’t, either. Make time to give your body the kinds of food it needs to thrive. If you are too tired to cook and have the money to do so, don’t hesitate to look for quick meal options–it’s better than not eating anything. Nourish yourself, and you are that much closer to getting back out there and doing the most good.
- Sleep is not optional. That’s right–we break down without it. Depression, anxiety, waning awareness that can lead to accidents or miscommunications are all a bajilliontypercent (science) more common when you are operating on not enough sleep. Sleep can be elusive when the word is a scary place, but carve out time to hit the hay early and perhaps not look at a screen or watch any news in that half hour or so before attempting sleep. Put on soothing music, do prayers or meditations to ease your mind, and do what you can to be rested. You will be so much more human (in a good way) if you do.
- Move if you are physically able to do so. And by move, I don’t mean cross-fit or Iron Man races. I mean, set a timer on your phone to get up and stretch at work. Take a lap around your block. If you can walk, fast-walk the length of your building where you work, go hide in the bathroom and stretch, or take it a step farther and exercise, dance, take self-defense classes, or whatever else helps you feel vital and alive. All these things can generate happy-chemicals but they can also help us just feel more empowered, and any of that we can bring to our lives is a good thing.
- Be self-care/self-aware proactive. If you require medications or special care to be healthy and you can at all afford or manage to acquire these, be aggressive. Set up appointments even if you don’t feel like it, go to the pharmacy, shop, or ask someone to help you with any of these if you are not able to do it on your own. Give yourself the tools you need to not just survive, but eventually to thrive. You are worth it.
- Get up, get dressed, and if you can, get out. I mean this. If you can bathe, if you can drag a comb through your hair and put clean-ish clothes on your body, if you can feed yourself and get out to your jobs, your volunteer work, to playing with your children or hanging with friends or even sitting alone somewhere, alive and breathing–do it. You are showing yourself that you can. And knowing that you can keep living, keep breathing–that’s a really good start to a better life.
- Don’t do it alone. If you feel overwhelmed and have a willing and healthy friends and family network, ask for help! Chances are, someone else might need it too, and helping each other creates the best kind of positive feedback loop. If you do not know where to turn, there are crisis-lines, community centers, houses of faith and many other places available to help you orient yourself, to know how to even begin a journey to ‘fine.’ I know this sentiment is maybe cringeworthy or cheesy to some people, but asking for help is not weakness–it is the ultimate self-awareness, and therefore a great strength to know when you cannot or should not do something alone.
These are just a starting place. When you are hydrated and fed, rested, able to get back out into the world, you will be more prepared to face challenges down from a place of power–from a place of knowing you are worthy of your own love, and that you are capable of making at least your world a better place…a good start to helping the world at large. Much love to you all in the coming days. <3