My Initial Introduction to Self-Care
Many years ago I went to my first therapist at the insistence of my then boyfriend. I went in and promptly had a panic attack. I just walked in and started to sob. I didn’t know what it was at the time, I just knew all of the sudden I was horrified and a little more than embarrassed.
Within a few sessions she told me that she wanted me to do something I enjoyed once a week. She didn’t call this self-care, it was just an instruction and it wasn’t the easiest one. I had no idea what I would enjoy. I didn’t even know if I could enjoy anything anymore. Ultimately I went to a piano store in the mall and I would choose some sheet music and a piano and pluck out some melodies. I don’t actually know how to play a piano, but I knew enough to make the tune. No one ever said anything about me being in there, probably driving away customers, they just let me pluck, pluck, pluck.
I came to really enjoy those days, but eventually they disappeared from my life and as it usually does, life took many turns, good and bad.
Many Years Later…
For the last 2 or 3 years I have found myself in and out of therapy, both group and individual. And about a year ago a therapist brought up “self-care.” Like I said, my previous therapist had never used the term so I was baffled. What is self-care? I imagined it meant much like it sounded, to care about self. Again, am I even capable? I can care about Jehovah, I can care about my family, I can care about my friends, but can I care about or for me?
Somehow, I never managed to connect it with those days in the piano store and so week after week I still just didn’t understand.
Then One Morning…
I was laying in bed and I thought “DAY TRIP!” West Virginia is only two states away and I have not been there before. So I jumped up and prepared myself, the car, and the dog, and we were off. In the end I only spent about 5 minutes in West Virginia, but we saw so many beautiful things along the way. At one point we were completely surrounded by mountains, it was wonderful. Even getting lost on the way back (we lost GPS somewhere in Virginia) was fun. I’d see a sign, try to judge where I was or if anything sounded familiar, and pick a turn. (I don’t really recommended this as a way to travel.)
By the time I did finally get home I understood. Self-care. It’s different for everyone. You have to look for what will make you happy even if it is just for a little bit. I couldn’t wait to get back to my therapist. “I get it, I get it! It’s fun!” Now I have a few things I do for self-care: manicures, pedicures, day trips, visits to friends, music (I’m learning the ocarina), art (I am learning to draw and to do watercolors, and I paint and do soft pastels).
I think the best way to say it is: Self-care is fun. So include some fun in your life. It keeps the stress down, and keeps a good balance in life.
Thanks to Rising Star for his article that inspired me to write about my experience with self-care.