Take Care of Yourself

I’m not sure that I’d be sitting here and writing this post if I didn’t practice self-care. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do, and I’ve always been of the opinion that if you aren’t taking care of yourself and making sure that your mind, body, and soul are in good working order, you’re not going to be worth anything to anybody else. Sure, we can all fake it for a time, but you’ll end up burning yourself out. Sooner or later, neglecting the self catches up with all of us.

The beauty of self-care is that it’s a vague term; it can be whatever you want it to be. On the weekends, sometimes I make myself pancakes. I slather on the fake syrup that I grew up on and that everyone else seems to hate, and enjoy my breakfast. I try to get up every weekday morning and have a slow cup of coffee with my roommate. We chat, watch a simulcast of a morning show, and come out of our respective morning fogs. It feels like the eye of the storm, before we each get into our respective cars and head out into the chaotic morning. I’ve tried to get back into meditation, although it hasn’t really stuck since I was living in Brooklyn and was unemployed. The mere fact that I find it so hard to sit still means that I likely need it more than ever. Exercise is something that I do almost every day, and it helps me to re-center myself. In times of inner and out turmoil, it has helped to maintain and boost my mental health. I can’t think of anything else that motivates me more to get up and get working.

These are all things that I try to do during the week, things that seem to take the edge off. It really can be something as simple as a cup of slow coffee in the morning, or a cup of herbal tea in the evening, which I’m become quite fond of. Sometimes my roommate and I sit outside, light a candle, and admire the night sky, talking about the day’s events or nothing at all. People seem hell-bent on running themselves into the ground these days, and it’s so important to slow things down when the opportunity is available.

I’m currently in Colorado visiting my stepbrother, and it’s so beautiful out here. As I’m sure y’all remember, or maybe you don’t, I wrote a piece about my panic attack before I came out here. Although my anxiety has lessened in intensity, that same anxiety came with me all the way to Vail. The TSA should have stopped it before it boarded the plane; bunch of slackers over there.

Maybe what it all boils down to is that my routine was disrupted, and I was feeling the strain. I wondered how I’d fill the days, and I just felt like the weight of my anxiety was going to crush me. Time seemed to stand still. On my third day there, I hiked up a hill near my stepbrother’s apartment, played some music I love, and just let the sun wash over me as I got higher and higher into the hills. Despite the fact that my body hadn’t adjusted to the altitude, and breathing was challenging, I kept pushing onwards and upwards, determined to go until the path ended, or until I passed out. The views from the hill were simply spectacular.

The feelings I felt earlier in the week have started to dissipate, and I’m left wondering what it is that I did to end the episode. Maybe I’m adjusting to life without my old job, or maybe I’m just working through some issues. Each day I’ve been here, I’ve made sure to read, write, listen to music, and get outside. These activities give me a light sense of structure, something to look forward to, and all of those are things I really enjoy doing. They keep me grounded and moving, and they even get me up in the morning.

The night after the hike, I decided to binge watch a favorite show of mine, even though I’ve seen all of the episodes many times. As much as I hate to admit it, and although I’m trying to cut TV out of my life, seeing the characters interact on screen, and laughing at the dumb things that they do, brought me a real sense of comfort. I needed the time spent by myself just zoning out and withdrawing from the world around me. It seems to have worked; I feel like I’m coming back down to earth and relaxing, and feeling like myself again.

Part of my motivation for coming out here was the nature. I hope to get lost in the hills, to breath in the fresh air, and just take it all in. I’ve read that being outside can do wonders for anxiety, and I’m not sure if it’s the air, or the fact that I just needed a break, I’m glad that I’m out here and taking some time for myself. It seemed like the right thing to do before I enter that next decade of my life, before I make a career-changing decision. I needed to re-center myself, and remember what it is that I want out of this life. I need to make sure that I’m staying true to myself, and going after the things that I want.

My boss at my old job spoke at length about what it was to tend to others, but more importantly, he spoke of the importance of tending to yourself. Self-Care is so critical to each person, and although I don’t have many obligations at the moment, I hope that when I get busier, that I’ll still take some time for myself. It may sound selfish, doing things that make you happy, but to me it’s an investment. When you chose to make that investment in yourself, the benefits to others will be manifold.

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