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Friday, 29 November 2019

Self care

I've been reading a few cries for help on Facebook, and I thought as I outlined my ideas for self care in response to one person, I'd share here.Before I get into the nitty gritty, I want to touch on a response the shame sometimes people feel for getting int the mess in the first place, or having to seek help or feelings of failure. Firstly, recognising you have a problem and seeking help to deal with it is something to be proud of. It's difficult and raises uncomfortable feelings but you are pushing on regardless to get to a better place. As my beloved Augusten Burroughs says 'Shame is a negative emotion given to you by others, and just like at airports, we should never carry baggage we haven't packed ourselves'.

Always remember life is complicated. We are sold an idea of how life is meant to be as children but it's really nothing like real life. If you're struggling in the rapids, don't worry about the less than perfect or what other people think, focus on what you need to do to swim to shore and only bother with those people that are throwing you life buoys. Everyone else can pass on by....To quote the wonderful Dario Fo "it's true, we're up to our necks in shit, and that's exactly why we walk with our heads held high!" Head high, people! Always.

Numbness is often a sign of depression - depression isn't sadness, it can be feeling nothing at all. Not feeling. So get checked out with a doctor because life doesn't need to be unnecessarily difficult. If you are struggling, always go straight to your GP to check there isn't an actual medical problem exacerbating the problem.  The trick the brain plays is making you think whatever you feel is real. Just make sure it is. There's no harm in just checking in with your GP. 

However, assuming you are just overwhelmed by life's obligations (and with children with issues, it can be unrelenting and exhausting so don't ever feel the need to dismiss that. It's huge) focus on stealing a few little pick me ups for yourself. Try to find things that don't take much time or cost money. They are the easiest things to reset your mood, as they can be quickly done without taking effort.

Dance to your favourite song (or better yet, belt it out loud in the car - I know it sounds silly but it literally engages something in your head and there's an emotional shift*). Exercise daily if you can - in front of the TV if need be - anything to get some endorphins in action. Where possible, eat well. Junk will bring you down, not raise you up (I can't say I'm an expert on this). Lastly, find something for you. I have been doing these puzzles (some sort of Mensa game for the kids) which I started doing when I was checking the pieces before ebaying but it's really fun and only takes 5 or so minutes, so I'm doing all the puzzle options before I get rid of it. It's the focus on the activity you enjoy that's important, not the meaning of the activity. Once you add a few little things for you and your mood, it's easier to feel you can move to move to bigger things. 

If you are overwhelmed with the grind, and kids are taking their toll don't feel life is passing you by. This is life. It just isn't always fun. But getting through the mud is just as important as making something or doing something. And dragging others through the mud is probably the most important thing a mother can do.

If you can afford it, I suggest getting some super luxury conditioner or shower gel with a really strong smell that you like. Some days in the shower is the only indulgence you'll get and if it can set you up in a good mood, then it's money well spent. (I get that L'Occitaine conditioner when on sale. I just use normal shampoo because it's ridiculously expensive and the conditioner smell is strong and overwhelms the shampoo smell anyway) and then sometimes I just need to smell my hair to get a mood boost...

I also recommend audio books for in the car - if you are driving all over the place in tedious obligation, at least you feel you are achieving something. Alain De Botton says audio books are as good for you as meditation (again it's the focus, shutting down the chaotic thoughts). Plus it gives you something other than your problems to talk about when you see people. 

Focus on one thing at a time. It  is a remarkable skill and very difficult to manage.  However, it's interesting when you achieve it. I did almost accidentally. I swear by it now. (in all those little ways above). You can't second guess the future anyway, so just deal with the immediate problem and let all the other pestering thoughts wait until you are ready to move on to the next step. 

I know all this sounds stupid but it is amazing how tiny things can make all the difference in getting you though the hard stuff.

What are your tips for self care?

Linking with #StayClassyMama #TwinklyTuesday and  #MLSTL because while not age specific, I do know a lot of people my age really sinking in the mire.

*Note for people with anxiety - getting up and physically moving to a different position can reduce anxiety.


  1. Great tips! I love listening to some music, reading a book or listening to a podcast and just shutting the bathroom door and hopping into a hot bath can make the world of difference. There's nothing shameful about asking for help and support on the contrary, it's a show of strength. Now I'm off to hunt down some fancy conditioner :)

  2. Some great tips here Lydia and it's often the simple things that we forget about doing. It doesn't sound stupid at all! #lifethisweek

  3. Good tips. For me, when I'm overwhelmed, I focus on one thing on my list and then another. When there's lots to do this is almost like throwing a dart and doing whatever it is that it lands on. And I love your tip about moving through anxiety. Simple and effective.

  4. Love these.... and yes, for me depression is ongoing and not about sadness at all. It's about apathy, helplessness, hopelessness. And sometimes anger.

    I tried to do an exercise the other day (on a site) and we had to identify what we do for 'fun'. I could think of reading and TV but not much else. Am thinking my first thought of 'eating and drinking' was probably not the answer they were after!

    1. I think eating and drinking are fun...but on an exercise site, you're right, maybe not what you're after. Hehehe. I'm mildly addecited to those exercise sites now. That I can get 15-20 mins in before my shower is a great start to the day.

  5. These are great self care to lips Lydia. I specially like your shampoo tip. I agree that there are days when a shower could be the only indulgence you get. And your audio books tip is great. As well as being an avid reader, I e come to love audio books and listen to them in the car and when gardening. I agree with you that the small things can make all the difference #MLSTL Will share

  6. Now I feel like I need to go out and buy some lovely conditioner! I discovered a little purse sized bottle of a favourite perfume the other day and I'm loving the smell again - looks like I know what I'll get myself for Christmas - it certainly gave me a happy feeling.
    Stress is such a big deal these days and any help on offer to beat it is always appreciated. It's nice to be in a place where I'm not up to my neck anymore!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I've shared on my SM :)

  7. Using a different sense than we are accustomed to, like the smell and texture of the conditioner, helps the mind move on. My fave place to de-stress is to do "just one thing" and I hone in on my art/design/colouring which is always on myn other desk (to the computer) and I use it often as a time out. Focussing on one thing is like taking a view finder and using it for close ups only. Nothing outside its scope. Works well for me. I have been known to do this before getting in the car to go down the M1. I also sing the a gee up and reminder "I can do this as I have before" and then I go..down the M1 with an audiobook for company. You really are becoming our wise woman on the internet you know!! Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week's optional prompt is: 49/51 Taking Stock #5 9/12/19 Hope to see you there! Denyse.

  8. I had not seen that quote by Augusten Burroughs - it's great! I adore the practicality of your suggestions. I think sometimes it's just noticing the little things that you know bring you joy, like stopping to notice the sunshine through the trees for a minute or using a favorite pen.... or a great conditioner (I'm going to check out L'Occitane conditioner now - Christmas is coming!).

  9. Good tips...I like the idea of audio books for the car. I have friends that do this. It will be a way for me to get in the "reading" of the books on my list.