What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Through the course of this series, a few people have expressed concern about my use of self-care being outside of the usage in a clinical setting. Let me be a bit clearer about my definitions.
I don’t fundamentally believe that any methodology belongs solely to the clinician or in a clinical setting.
That has come about mainly due to my own lack of access to that type of mental health care in my life. I also believe that by engaging with the idea of self-care outside of a strictly medicalized clinical definition, self-care becomes more accessible to everyone -- and I am all about that.
This approach to self-care (which isn't new) is for people who either don’t want to engage in medicalized self-care (maybe because of personal choice) or who don’t have access.
If that’s not the kind of self-care you personally need, that is good.
Ideas for getting more bang for your buck, passing along reviews of worth-it drug store cosmetics, and whether it's worth it to save up for coconut oil on a budget is useful information to a lot of poor folks. Yes, even poor people want to shop sometimes and having some resources about it is nice.
Not to mention -- as folks often feel regardless of income level -- sometimes finding that mega deal and getting to talk about it feels pretty awesome.
This concept of self-care is something I have been working through since I was about 18. As I near 40, I am just able to start putting it into words. Self-care has been a way of improving the quality of my life, working through stuff that is hard, and surviving times that have been harder.
Recently, we were a bit more broke than usual in my household. I was also not feeling great after a bad bout of insomnia and some health issues.
I’ve been feeling run down, gross, and completely emotionally wrung out. My nails were a mess. My feelings were all over the place. Everything felt like it was sucking the life out of me, one terrible thing at a time.
Self-care is important to me in these moments because I need to feel like I am treating myself well and taking the time to remember that I am a human being. Whatever I’m stressed out about does not decrease my value as a human being.
The trigger for me beating myself up is usually money being tighter than usual. I will think about the fact that I bought a $5 pressed powder even though I budgeted $5 to spend on it -- or I will tell myself that I don’t deserve pants that fit because obviously I’m an awful human being because I’m having a financial situation.
That thought process can go real bad real fast. I’ve learned that approaching my self-care in a purposeful way can help pull me up out of the dark so I can deal with the situation rationally or just chill out enough to let it pass.
When I found myself falling down this panicky rabbit hole, I got to work.
If this is happening to you, you do what makes you feel fancy. For me, I started with gathering up what I had on hand: OTC pain killers for some pain issues, supplies to detangle and oil treat my hair, nail polish remover and my favorite polishes.
I always do my nails before taking care of my hair. I enjoy waiting a full ten minutes between coats; I slow myself down and have to pay attention so my manicure isn’t a mess.
My hair comes next. I have had natural hair for a few years and learning to care for it and having it be healthy and beautiful is something I am very proud of. So, I spent time detangling my hair and enjoying the feeling that this is something I’ve had a difficult time learning and that I am good at it now.
While I was doing these things, the urge to panic and go right for scarcity/financial terror mode started to subside.
Let’s pause here for a second.
Remember way back in the first article I had a little exercise in giving yourself a moment to indulge in some self-care with a mini manicure? Here is where that exercise really kicks in.
Take the time to treat yourself like the most awesome human being in the world.
Yes, even if you’ve overspent on something or are on the ropes about choosing what bills to pay on time.
You deserve to be treated like the most important, most awesome human ever.
Maybe instead of doing your nails, you use some resources from my second article and find yourself some yoga to do, a movie to watch, music to shake your booty to -- whatever is going to work for you.
What’s important when things are rough is that you do that thing that makes you feel worthwhile. We’re talking about beyond basic survival. We’re talking feeling valued, taken care of, and reminding yourself that you are human.
By the time my manicure was totally done and I had shampooed and deep conditioned my hair, I felt better.
Here is where I also encourage you to get support and teamwork it out. Tell your partner or a friend that you may need some encouragement.
Sometimes all we need to get us going is someone to tell us, "It is okay, go ahead." And let me remind you that asking for support is OK. Not knowing how to navigate through your feelings about self-care and maybe being broke is OK, too.
It’s a learning process for a lot of us. You’re OK.
If you haven’t been or are unable to talk to anyone about this stuff, let me tell you this: It is okay, go ahead. Do your nails, do your dance, do something fancy to your hair, do some yoga, go for a walk, go to church -- do your thing because you deserve to feel good.
As for me, after some rest, some pain relief, and some quality self-care (in this case, it was beautification of the self), I am feeling better. I still have some money worries but I was able to successfully keep myself from freaking out and stressing, which wouldn't help things anyway.
I really hope some of you have been putting some of these skills to use when you need them. Please share in the comments so we can all get the good deals, do that yoga video, and find the thing that makes us feel fancy.