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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Support Groups » Making self-care a priority

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Author Topic: Making self-care a priority
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I got started on doing something for myself this morning I thought I'd share with all of you, because I'm thinking it might help you out to see my own process and challenges in this.

So, what I did was ask a colleague who does personal coaching if I could come on as one of her clients. I have been having a very hard time lately juggling everything in my life, especially around balancing work with all of the other parts of my life that are important to me. My personal life keeps getting the shaft, which sucks for me and sucks for everyone else in it, too. I also know that while some of that is just about the realities of the work I do, some of it is likely also about emotional patterns and barriers I have the capacity to improve.

Asking for help is hard for me, like it is for a lot of you. So, even just asking is it's own challenge, but I went ahead and sucked it up.

Then, of course are the limitations of time and money. My usual workweek is over 60 hours, and even then, I can never get everything done I need to. Then there's the whole rest of my life: my primary partnership, my family, my close friends, my creative work, and the basics of taking care of myself like my exercise and medication practices, eating, sleeping and all that jazz. To say that I often feel there is no way I could possibly make/have time for anything else is the understatement of the century. All the same, I know this is important, and that when something is important, I CAN make time and will make time.

Then there's the money part. Despite working the hours that I do and at the level that I do, I make less income than people I know working 30 hours a week with far less challenging work. Many people I know have benefits I don't have. But again, I know I can find a way to afford what I need to for this care of myself.

I think one of the most important parts of seeking out the things we need to take care of ourselves as best we can is about making a commitment to ourselves TO take care of ourselves, TO put ourselves first sometimes, TO create lives where no matter what our limitations, we are always finding ways for there to be time and resources for our own self-care. If and when we can't do that, not only do we suffer, but everything else we *think* is getting all that care is going to suffer, too.

Doing something like this is something I'm pretty sure I need. I'm not 100% that it'll be exactly the right thing for me, but I think it likely will, and what I am 100% about is that I need to try and see. I know that just making the effort alone is self-care all by itself, and important all by itself.

So... how are YOU doing with making the care of you a priority? If you feel like you have barriers to getting things you need to take care of yourself, what are they, and what are you going to do to deal with them? If you feel you have barriers but suspect they might be excuses, or things you use to avoid doing something that scares you (even though you know it's needed), what do you feel like you need to take a step to stop making excuses and take care of yourself?

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 29269

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I know what you mean. Going into next semester at university, I have two final year dissertations to work on, I have volunteering here to do, I'm a vice president of my students' union, I'm going to be setting up our new LGBTstraight society and I have a peer-mentoring essay writing workshop that I set up last year that just got funded for next year, so I'll be overseeing that again.

And after all that, I still get asked about additional things I could do in those roles, extra services the writing centre could offer and so on. A little while ago I just thought, "that's it, no new projects for next semester." And really, if anyone tries to say "but this is important," I'm quite happy to go through that list of all the shtuff I'm already doing, and then they tend to quiet down. [Smile]

Too, I really try to make sure now that I have a cut-off time at night (probably around midnight at the latest) at which I look myself really hard in the mirror or something and think whether or not I really need to be missing out on sleep for whatever it is I'm doing. And usually the answer's no, really.

“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

Posts: 1269 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jacob at Scarleteen
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Member # 66249

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So cool to hear Heather! It's also cool that as a "grown-up" person this kind of improvement in prioritisation can happen in your life. There is a bit of pressure to sort out every aspect of your adult life by the time you're 25 or something.

I had a meeting with a mental health contact at my university who I was telling about how I would sleep as late as 6am sometimes and go to uni and try to be active the next day... She asked me how much time I had for myself.

I said "I guess sleeping" and she said that doesn't count because that's something I have to do and that I'm doing out of necessity to be able to carry out the rest of my day (and which I wasn't doing to well anyway).

I say "maybe eating is something I enjoy and do for me" she says the same...

Studying didn't count either.

I say "walking" she asks if I go for walks, I say "walking on my own getting places"... that doesn't count.

I say "I meet friends and socialise" and we couldn't count that either as really that isn't for the benefit of just me (and sometimes worrying about uni-work).

It was weird to realise that after eliminating those that really I spend zero time on myself...

I think in the same way as you I haven't prioritised myself. Creating emptiness in my timetable that I stick to has something I've realised is really important.

Making sure that I cut off point for daily tasks that is earlier than when I want to sleep. So if I want to sleep at 10pm, I really should be ready to sleep at 9pm and it really helps to have that hour when I don't have anything to do. It's one hour of the day but it really makes a lot of difference to me to have it as what can feel as surplus. It sorts my sleep out. But also gives me some time to wind down consciously, rather than just sleep immediately after the stress of doing stuff.

Posts: 694 | From: Leeds UK | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 41657

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Myself I do think of walking instead of taking the bus as something I do for myself as it's good exercise and I don't play sports so it's important for me to fit it in somehow, and it also saves me money on bus fares, though sometimes I'll walk even if I have a day pass so it wouldn't cost me any more money to take the bus, because it's good exercise. Though I also sometimes take the bus instead of walking if I'll be late/r for something otherwise when it's important I get there on time or if I want to have more time at home so I can fit in a few things that need doing and have time for watching DVDs/reading/more masturbating/something else fun as well. I'm lucky enough to live in a city with an incredibly good bus service.

My main ways of spending time on self care are:

1. Watching DVDs. I have a huge backlog of stuff I own but haven't watched, so I'm trying to make some progress on that, which I often do by setting myself goals for a number of episodes or a film or two to watch in a day. It's now gotten to the point where most days I watch at least 6 episodes of anime (about 2 and a half hours), and it makes me feel much better to do that instead of browsing the internet reading depressing comment threads.

2. Reading. I'm currently focusing more on DVDs, but I enjoy reading, and I've also recently resolved that I will not pretend that it's always easy for me to listen to music and read at the same time, in the past I've been a bit stubborn about it, wanting to do both at once so that I can work through my unlistened to albums at the same time as my books, but while I can sometimes comfortably do both, most of the time it's better to either focus on the book without listening to music or listen to music while I'm reading something easy to digest like a blog post or while I'm organising things in my room or brushing my hair or something (or just focus entirely on the music.)

3. Listening to music. See reading.

4. Masturbating. Sometimes I put it off due to residual feelings of shame, but when I actually do do it I feel much much happier. I want to get back to doing it more often, actually.

5. Other: showering, brushing my teeth, brushing my hair, going to the toilet, eating regular meals (and being sure to eat fruit and vegetables so as to prevent constipation which is PAAAIINFUUUL), sleeping, keeping my room to a level of tidiness that I am happy to live in, going on my exercise bike. All these things are done with varying degrees of frequency, except for showering, which I do regularly (and I have now gotten to a point where I always wash my hair once a week, which is good enough for me), brushing my teeth, which I'm getting much better at doing every day, and sleeping, which I'm a champion at [Smile]

Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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thumb tack
Peer Ambassador
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Thanks, great topic! It took me a while, because I tend to overload my schedule and then forget about being nice to myself, but I have been working on making (at least a bit of) time for ME lately.

1. coming here! (cheesy I know, but so true!) I love coming on these message boards, I don't write that often, but I just find a lot of resilient and inspiring people around here, as well as really useful information, and that helps me a ton in a very general way.

2. I try to make a jar or two of jam about once a month. It's surprisingly easy to do providing you keep it at 1 or 2, not a dozen, and it's really satisfying. Then for the rest of the month I get to see this little accomplishment every time I open the fridge. (this month: plum)

3. last semester I allowed myself to go to the coffee shop for one hour every friday after school, I treated myself to a sweet and a coffee, and I just sat there and enjoyed. No books, no music, no newspaper, no homework, no thinking about anything important. It was really hard to do at first, but eventually it became something I really looked forward to. I'll be doing it again next semester, no matter how busy I am!

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Member # 47356

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Oftentimes I'll spend time listening to music or oddly, practicing my instrument (I play clarinet and bari sax). When I'm working up a particularly hard passage on my clarinet, it feels like I can just zone out and become enthralled in the process of making music. Singing is less easy to slip into flow, but its just as fulfilling when I'm in choir and around other people. Another thing I find that helps is taking baths and writing in my journal. As someone with a horrible memory, is heartening to be able to flip through journals and not only remember where I've been but who I would like to become; to be able to discharge the negative emotions that accumulate throughout the day. Talking on the phone with close friends is also something that really helps me, and I try my best not to make it one sided (jk)! I'd have to agree with gazelle123 that Scarleteen has become part of my routine just because of the quality and the open-mindedness of the people that post on the forums. Its nice to know that there are people that have been where I have.
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