This has been a long few weeks in America and an even longer few in the rest of the world. The constant violence. The political bickering. The sense that hope is hard to find. It has to infect anybody with a trace of empathy.
It certainly has me. I mentioned in my last post that I had a rather unpleasant meltdown that amounted to a number of causes coming together to bring this to what it became. After writing that, I started to analyze what was putting me in this place. Before long, I hit on a key culprit: the state of political discourse. So I finished a long gestating rant on that and posted it thinking it would help. However I found myself ending it with a comment that was a borderline threat and definite scream about how sick I was of the doomsday talk. I definitely believe it, and indeed the note stays up, but I look at it and I see that it did not in fact help.
So it is that I come to today’s subject, the need for self care. See, despite this being up on social networks I won’t be on them much in the next few days. I’ll be on every so often to check responses to this or people messaging me but I’m going to try to detox a bit from the negativity. I was going to do it Friday and Saturday but Comic Con hit and that’s a fun thing to participate in. Now, the hiatus will last through Wednesday at least. I don’t know if I can do it but I have to.
And that’s what self care is: something we have to do for ourselves. The behaviors sound selfish in theory. I’m going to ignore a lot of my friends and it’s sounding like I’m judging them. (I’m not judging them. I just can’t do politics right now.) I’m going to spend a lot of time over the next few days reading comic books. I might try to grab a good alcoholic drink. I’ll definitely work on a writing project only I care about. The least selfish thing I’ll do is a ton of Lola time. Lola is a blast to be with.
All of these things serve a purpose though and it’s not a small one. Self care behaviors replenish the soul. They give us a few moments to stop and refocus on what we need as a person. They allow us to function in our daily lives.
That they are often selfish and can be called as such stems from our society’s complex relationship with the self concept. We associate doing things for ourselves with not thinking of others. To stop and take a few hours to have fun is to put the work we could be doing aside. It’s engaging in the behaviors of the lazy. And yes, doing it all the time isn’t self care but self absorbed playtime.
But we have to destigmatize this need. We have to remove the guilt. And yes, some times we do need to cut others out, even if just for a bit. It’s ok to realize others have an effect on us. A break is a good thing.
Also, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to briefly turn away from the bigger issues. I work at a very good newspaper. I don’t ignore the important news. I read everything that goes in the paper including the stories people think should get more coverage. (We cover them!) But there are limits to what we can carry as a person. Sometimes we have to take a break. It doesn’t make us less aware. It just means we have to function.
After we take the time to care for ourselves, we return stronger and clearer headed. We have a better perspective on the world. We are better equipped to be the person who will fight the good fights in life.
So take time this week to release. Find what satisfies you. Then when you’ve recovered, be the best you you can be.