Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what is making me feel so down and what has helped me in the past to feel better and how to look after my mental health. People keep mentioning self care. It seems like a bit of a buzz word but I haven’t really known what it means. Then today I decided to do something for myself and suddenly self care seemed so simple – and effective!
Focusing on the self in self care
To work out what self care is, I’ve needed to reflect on my self. If you know me, you probably know the ‘public’ side of me. The smiley Kate. Party Kate. I have also always been known as a bit of a sweary, wine guzzling, wild, dancing, party girl. I loved going out. I loved the ritual of getting ready. Of enjoying that first chilled drink. And the many that followed. The crazy dance moves that made my body feel good. Feeling hot. Feeling confident. I loved spending time with friends. Chatting shit all night. Talking about anything and everything. That doesn’t really happen anymore.
What makes me happy?
Gosh that’s a question I rarely think about these days. I make my daughter happy. I try to make my husband happy. I just about function. Happiness for me is not on my priority list. That is bad.
Before Boo, I loved going out with friends. Since Boo I have been out. A couple of times. And, despite the infrequency, it has been AWESOME! Last time I went out, I conceived a baby. Nothing like feeling great to make you horny. Sadly, I can’t go out with the freedom I used to. I don’t drink as much. Staying out is harder. Hangovers are hell with a toddler. But I have been out and I have more plans on the horizon. But maybe I need to figure out a way to fit it in more, or work out a way for my friendships to be more prevalent in my life. Friendship is so important. I had a play date today with a good friend and it was so great to hang out and chat. When I’m down, I isolate myself but I need to learn to trust my friends with my vulnerability. I think I’m starting to do better with that.
There’s more to me than the public ‘confident party Kate’. And the other side of me, the shy introverted side, feels both bombarded and neglected too. I used to love reading. Running. Cooking. Craft projects. Tidying and sorting. Painting my nails. All solitary pursuits that gave me joy and kept me calm, centred and self assured. I have always treasured quiet time alone. Pretty hard with a toddler.
No wonder I’ve been having an identity crisis! I don’t do any of those things. These things were all fundamental to who I was. These things gave me JOY. Not just happiness but joy.
Today, I decided that if I was going to feel better I needed to do better. I needed to actually do things that I enjoy.
What is self care for me?
Surely self care is just doing things that I enjoy. Things just for me. Obviously there are lots of things I enjoy. But it feels overwhelming. After neglecting my own needs for so long, it feels selfish to suddenly do lots just for me. So for me, I had to start with one thing and what was needed was clear. There is one thing that has helped with my general happiness and mental well-being throughout my adulthood: exercise. I used to love running and cycling. Oh it made me feel good in so many ways. But right now, I know I don’t have the discipline or energy to run after Boo goes to sleep. And I don’t have a bike. So today, I rejoined the gym.
I feel goooooood! You know that slight ache that you know will hurt tomorrow but you like it anyway? That real tired feeling. Physical tiredness not just it’s the end of the day tiredness.
Tonight I am going to sleep well and it’s going to be glorious.
I’m going to try making time for some of those other things I enjoy to. I guess self care really is straight forward – I just need to make time to do the things that make me happy (not things my husband enjoys, or my toddler wants to do, or people on Instagram are doing … things I enjoy). It’s not anything big and fancy; it’s just doing things that I enjoy. It seems so simple when I put it like that. Why had I forgotten that I get to enjoy my life?
*and look, yesterday I cooked. I made a Pavlova and used my Kenwood. That also made me feel good. Feel like I’m giving myself a hug with all these steps in the right direction. I’m finally learning what self care actually means!