Yesterday I went to the gym for the first PT session in 2 weeks. I’d tweaked my back and am having issues with my Achilles after running ( what a foolish idea!) and I’ll be honest: I wasn’t looking forward to it.
60 minutes of lunging, lifting, and all round challenging my body and a miracle happened. I walked out of there feeling like I’d done the right thing. It didn’t feel like the right thing rationally, but at a cellular level, I could hear my body saying hooray, you finally picked the right kit!
Because I have 2 kits for self care:
a Gym Kit and a Gin Kit.
For the past 2 weeks, I’d been using my Gin kit. Instead of working out, I’d poured myself a large glass and figured that the effort from lifting the glass to mouth was all the exercise I needed.
Although it feels good at the time, my Gin kit also includes some less attractive things. It makes me see the negative, it can make me doubt myself, and it tells me that I can never truly rock my Gym kit. The mountain is just too high to climb. It may shut out the noise but it also creates an annoying low level hum that doesn’t go away.
My Gym kit isn’t quite as much fun, particularly when it’s dusty and I’ve not been using it for a while. It takes time to warm up, and it’s not as feel good as gin. The benefits don’t come straight away and if I’m honest, I wonder if I’ll ever see them. But It’s an act of self love. Alongside exercise, there’s sleep, and hydration, and good food choices. They help me feel more in control, they spark a sense of hope and possibility in me, and give me a deeper sense that I am taking care of my body and mind, I’m prioritising myself in a positive way.
This isn’t about alcohol or exercise though. I could be writing about baking and crosswords.
This is about choices and self care.
When Issy was very ill, I said that I was Pickled by Pinot; I am sure a blood test would have revealed I was at least 60% Pinot Grigio. It was my coping mechanism because I couldn’t face what we were going through and I needed escape. Fast.
What I’ve realised since is that immediate need for escape can be achieved by doing some other things:
Going for a walk, going for a nap ( a current favourite), reading a book, having a rant, writing and journalling, singing, hugging, talking, dancing, breathing, acknowledging….there are so many things that help us to get out of the moment positively.
And there are things that get us out of the moment not quite as positively in the long run….drinking too much, eating too much, excessive anything, overthinking, arguing, blaming.
And life is a balance so I’m unlikely to become a teetotal gym bunny who meditates and doesn’t watch TV, but there’s a fine line between. Sometimes we are in a place where we can make choices that are good for us, and other times not so much. Self care is not beating ourselves up for the times when it’s a challenge.
So how do we start?
First of all, take stock of your Self Care levels – are you in need of some attention? How are you feeling? What are your energy levels like? What does your body really need?
Create your own positive Self Care Kit – your version of the Gym Kit. I’ve spoken before about the things I need to function well – sleep, water, no sugar, sleepy tea before bed – but other things that are in my Self Care Kit are connection with friends and time to read. Oh and a good jigsaw… I love a puzzle. What positive things calm you down when you’re stressed? What things take you out of the moment? Write a list and be prepared so you can positively self care anytime you need to.
Finally schedule some time this week for self care. I know you’re busy, but pencil it in. There’s time for it. 1 hour out of 24 isn’t much is it? You absolutely deserve it.