Self-care vs. self-comfort

I have dealt with a lot of heaviness and anxiety in the last month. My normal reaction is to eat french fries and binge-watch Netflix to distract myself. This time is different. This season has probably been the hardest for me in years and I knew that my normal coping strategies were not healthy or productive. I knew that I needed to deal with it differently.

A few months ago, one of the co-hosts in the Sorta Awesome podcast made the statement that self-care is different from self-comfort. Self-comfort is eating junk food, shopping, watching TV — it is doing all the things that distract us and make us feel better in the moment. Self-care is tuning into your body and gauging what it actually needs to be healthy both physically and emotionally.

I have spent a lot of time over the past year or two figuring out what self-care looks like to me. It may be different for you, but I want to share what has been beneficial for me.

Meditation

I’ve heard about the benefits of meditation but I have really struggled to try it; not because I am opposed to it, but because the idea of sitting silently is rather terrifying to me. My husband meditates for at least 20 minutes every evening and has encouraged me to try it, so I finally gave in.

I started with 5 minutes and recently upped it to 8 minutes, so I guess that is progress. I really do find it beneficial. It is making myself take the time to do it that is difficult. The one thing that has helped immensely is the free Centering Prayer app (Android and iOS), without it I am not sure I would have been successful.

Exercise

Pilates has been my friend. Even on days I don’t make the time for cardio, I do take at least 10 minutes to do Pilates. My body feels so much better when I consistently do it. I love The Balanced Life on YouTube.

Embracing emotion and not avoiding it

I am definitely an avoider. I will do almost anything to avoid pain, sadness, pretty much anything negative. I am learning to lean into the emotions, even for just an hour. Embrace it, acknowledge it and then leave it there. Definitely not easy for me, but definitely healthier!

Gratitude

I downloaded a free gratitude app for my phone. Taking the time every evening to think of 3 things I am grateful for has really helped me to look for those things more throughout the day. The quote written on our kitchen chalkboard right now is, “It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

Limiting media

I talked about this in my post about anxiety, but it remains hugely important for my self-care. I actually took a full week off of social media and I think it was one of the best things I could have done. It also made me realize I was often using social media more out of habit than anything else. Limiting social media helped to make my world smaller, which I really needed.

Finding people that ‘get it’

I have a lot of different friends who I love dearly and mean a lot to me, but in the last few weeks I needed to be with people who understood exactly where I was without my having to explain anything. This is not a healthy place to stay in for an extended period, but for a few weeks it gave me what I needed to get to a healthier mindset.

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