Earlier this year, I posted about how close I’d been getting to burnout. I promised myself I would figure out how to reestablish the balance in my life. So I’ve decided to launch an initiative I call Operation Self-Care.
Even though actually achieving a reaffirmed life balance has proven exceptionally hard, by recognizing the signs that my body, my mind, and really the whole universe has been sending me for a very long time, I believe I’m moving in the right direction.
Operation Self-Care will – sort of – happen in phases. This is partly because a) there’s something to be said for taking baby steps, and b) I admit that I kind of have no idea what the hell I’m doing. There are probably people out there who would take my money to create a self-care plan for me. But since I’m winging it, here’s what I’ve come up with.
Areas of Focus
To begin, I’ve identified five specific areas that, if targeted, should put me on a path to my end game, which is that life-work-motherhood-writerly balance.
- Nutrition. I’ve never been that good at eating a “perfect” diet. I have an incredibly strong sweet tooth that I swear was genetically inherited from both my grandfathers, who could smell sweets a mile away. But while I was pregnant and breastfeeding, I became hyper-aware of what I was putting in my body, since all of it would be passed on to Babycakes in one way or another. I’m still very conscientious about what I feed her, though it seems that she, too, has inherited the sweet tooth gene. Since going back to work in the fall of 2015, however, I have started to eat my feelings. Plus, I cannot seem to get through a day of work without a can of Coke at lunchtime. This school year, I have already started making some minor headway in better food choices. But it’s hard. Really, really hard.
- Fitness. Normally fitness and nutrition go hand in hand, but I’ve separated them because, at present, I can’t think of them as a whole. I’ve never been particularly athletic, and I honestly hate working out. But from the time I was in pre-wedding shape-up mode in 2009 until I got pregnant, I was pretty committed to working out. I made my way through several Beachbody programs, though admittedly never actually followed one to completion before either restarting or trying something new. But fear of miscarriage kept me from doing more than walking during my pregnancy, and I just never got back on the bandwagon.
- Sleep. I don’t get enough sleep. Sleep is so important. It’s when both your brain and your body heal from the day. People who sleep well, and get enough sleep, find it easier to lose weight, have energy to actually make it through the day, and are generally more pleasant to be around.
- Stress Management. This is commonly referred to as finding “me time”. I used to have this in spades. Now I kind of suck at it. Somewhere along the past two and a half years, I convinced myself that I didn’t need to take time to myself – or maybe that I didn’t deserve it or wasn’t supposed to take it anymore. The things I always did that helped me recenter – reading a book, playing piano for a couple of hours, vegging out with a favorite movie – have gone away. I still find time to read, but it’s sporadic. Ask the stack of two months’ worth of magazines on the end table beside me.
- Mental Health. I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety in the spring of 2016. Technically, I was diagnosed with currently having generalized anxiety, but because it came on during the second half of Babycakes’s first year of life (postpartum depression and anxiety disorders can manifest any time during the first year after you give birth), it started off as undiagnosed PPA. I only went to one counselling session, where I got confirmation that I was not actually losing my mind, and my anxiety is fortunately not severe enough to require medication. There are other interventions I can and do use, and I’ve learned to recognize flare ups. But I don’t always manage it well. This, I think is an ongoing thing, but maybe if I can figure out the other areas of focus, this will better fall into place.
So what will this look like? I’m going to try tackling one area at a time. Baby steps are important, I think, to making this work.
It’s time I do this for me.