I’ve seen quite a bit recently about how important it is to practice self care. Self care looks very different for different people and, I believe, can reflect the personality of the individual. I confess that I’ve not always been particularly good at self care and I would often push myself much farther than I probably should have to meet whatever goals I thought were important at the time. That was before cancer. Now, while I still have a ways to go, I have gotten better.
In no particular order, here is my list of the things I do regularly to take care of myself and how those things fit into my personality.
- I’m an introvert, which means I get my energy from being by myself. I love to read and passed my goal of reading 365 books in 2019 in the beginning of September. While I do enjoy being around other people, having the freedom to be myself more has been one of the best things about being home rather than working.
- I enjoy being helpful to others, it gives me purpose and when I’m able to be useful to others, it reminds me why I went to law school. Being able to pull back and protect myself is a luxury these days that I don’t take for granted. My version of self care is learning to say no more often when I find myself stressed for no real good reason.
- I carry emotions in my body rather than letting them out. This means I need to participate in activities that help me get it out, but also take care of my body. I go to yoga 3 times a week as regularly as possible. It really helps. Also, now that I’m blogging regularly, I’m able to get the emotions out into the world where they belong rather than festering in my body.
- I love to learn new things. I really like understanding how things work. Now that I’m immersed in learning about medicine and cancer and how the body works, sometimes I wish I’d taken more sciency classes rather than the literature classes I loved in college, but those years of handling medical malpractice cases and car accidents has had a silver lining.
- I get regular massages. I used to get them more infrequently and it helped, but I just didn’t make time for them as much as I needed to. Now, I don’t miss a massage if I can help it.
- Before I got sick, I only went to the doctor when I absolutely had to. Now, I see a variety of medical professionals whose entire focus is my quality of life. Yes, I see lots of doctors who are focused on my cancer too, but that is balanced by the doctors who are there to look out for me and my ability to do my life.
- Before I got sick, I literally only took a vitamin daily. I’ve never liked swallowing pills generally but that wasn’t really the reason, I just really didn’t like taking medication. Now, I take a handful every day. Some are prescribed meds, others supplements, others over the counter meds to address side effects.
- Before chemo, I’d never taken drugs that were not legal. I did get drunk once in college and took one drag on a cigarette. Neither happened again. Now, I have a medical marijuana card and I use cannibis to address a lot of different issues, including, but not limited to, pain, nausea, anxiety and inflammation.
- Before I got sick, I never sought out mental health treatment. I weathered quite a few experiences without needing extra help beyond my own trusty coping mechanisms. Now, I see a psychiatrist regularly and I take medication daily for mood stabilization. A great “off label” use of the same medication is that it reduces my hot flashes.
- SLEEP. I never prioritized my sleep as much as I do now. Everyone is happier when I do.
Self care is vital, it is necessary for … as the saying goes … you can’t pour from an empty cup. How are you filling your cup today?