Yesterday (Oct. 10) was World Mental Health Day. While much of the stigma associated with talking openly and honestly about the importance and challenges of mental health is fading, we have a long way to go. So let me beat the drum again on this issue – self-care is a crucial part of building and maintaining a healthy headspace. Without that, you can’t do much for the wider world. You can do much of this quietly, if you like – there’s no need to shout from the rooftops anything you don’t want to shout. That being said, make time to do simple things that have a big bang for your buck. These include drinking one more glass of water a day (I prefer seltzer for the bubbles, but you do you, Boo-boo), going to bed a half hour earlier, getting up a half hour earlier to have a few minutes just for you, putting down the screens at least an hour before bedtime to give your eyes and brain a chance to reset to “oh, right – sleep.” Eat a salad. Make your own dressing. Remind yourself that you’re worth “using the good stuff” and have pizza on your wedding china.
You get the idea.
So much of this is a matter of learning the balance of when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” Both of these can be incredibly positive, giving, compassionate sentences, but they can be tricky, too. My rule of thumb is that “yeses” are primarily for expanding my circle of experiences, while my “noes” are usually about pulling in and doing “inside work” on my mind, body, and spirit. Mind you, I’m still working on ALL of these, but let me give you a summary of the last few weeks:
SAID “YES” – Once a month, I go to visit my Dad for the weekend which gives the rest of the family a break from the caregiving that falls so heavily on them since they are in the same town. I said “yes” to taking him to his college fraternity tailgate and the homecoming football game. While it came with some definite mobility challenges, here’s another “yes” – let people help you. We wound up with great seats, I heard great stories, and the people-watching – perfection! I also said “yes” when a beloved cousin asked me if I had a keepsake of my mother’s that he and his wife could leave in the Highlands of Scotland on a trip they had planned for quite a while. I now have a video taken by his wife of my cousin (names removed to protect the innocent!) reading a Celtic prayer I included and gently tossing an Irish coin emblazoned with a horse and a harp into a fairy pool on the Isle of Skye. I said “yes” and got out of my comfort zone by attending a celebration of the harvesting of Catawba corn on the Nation’s land. I said “yes” to a new bakery in town. And I said “yes” to making time to paint – I’m hoping for a fun night on Thursday at a pop-up art event and sale.
SAID “NO” – October is a great time to make some changes. It just seems to go along with the change of seasons. So I started working to say “no” to some bad habits that have been dogging my steps. Every morning now begins with a brief meditation (for me to re-learn the habit) and I’m working to have at least two fully vegetarian days every week. I said “no” to the tyranny of the “to do” list by steadfastly refusing to deal with it for a few days, choosing instead to create a “done” list. I said “no” to being all things to all people on a bad day and let amazing friends feed me. I said “no” to having my office space be untidy. I said “no” to rushing around, as if my worth was measured in mileage, choosing instead to meander a bit. And I said “no” to the negative voices telling me to keep my hair brown and to not buy the “Artist” hat, since I’m not really one. (Dumb brain. I am, too!)
Bubble baths are self-care. Therapy appointments are self-care. Trying roasted chickpea burritos is self-care. Keeping medical appointments is self-care.
And you are worth taking care of – so say “yes” AND say “no.”
Scatter joy, Divas!