Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What Self-Care Looks Like (July 2016)

I know I've written about self-care before (and more than once) but I thought I'd give y'all an update on how that's going to keep myself accountable to what is and isn't working.

What is Working
  • Learning more about introversion and being a highly sensitive person (HSP). I've been reading a couple of books on introversion (most notably Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain and The Irresistible Introvert: Harness the Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World by Michaela Chung) as well as some articles on HSP that have helped embrace who I am and what works for me. Quiet has helped me understand what introversion is and what it isn't while The Irresistible Introvert (which is more like a memoir with tips on what's worked for the author) has given me ideas on how to best manage stressful (to introverts) situations. So far the latter has been highlighted, annotated, and been the most useful to me since I learn best from personal experiences. My anxiety and stress levels are at an all-time low thanks to the new techniques (as well as some I've picked up from implementing some mindfulness into my everyday routines).
  • Embracing change. There have been a lot of changes lately (you can go back to last month's blog posts to see some example) and I've been able to accept them because I think I've finally learned to let go and let God guide me. Change doesn't make me uncomfortable but not knowing what's going to happen in the future has been a trigger for my anxiety attacks in the past. Now? I'm trusting God and am letting things come as they may without any long term plans in place. I have goals but no concrete plans as to how it'll happen. I'm re-learning to be more flexible which is something I was actually good at before the PTSD became a part of my life. I've also made some much needed changes in how I do things. For example, after reading both The Irresistible Introvert and an article on how multitasking actually depletes your mental energy, I've tried to do one thing at a time instead of trying to do several things at once. Right now I'm blogging without any music or the TV on in the background; I'm focused on this one single thing. While this is a small change for me, it's really helped my energy levels and mental sharpness.
  • Taking screen-free breaks. As I've mentioned before, I've noticed how much better I feel and how much more (mentally and physically) energized I am when I'm not glued to a screen. I've taken a couple of screen-free breaks throughout the week. I let my friends (with whom I communicate the most often on social media and/or text) know ahead of time so they don't think I'm ignoring them. It's done wonders for my mental health; I can't recommend it enough.
  • Drinking more water. Alright, 'fess up... who else has trouble drinking the recommended amount of water? After my bladder/kidney infection in late June-early July, I've been making an effort to drink more water. I try to aim for at least six 8 oz glasses per day and most days I'm able to reach that goal. Sometimes I fail on the six glasses but I do drink more than 16 oz of chamomile tea (for heartburn) or eat watermelon fruit bars (like popsicles but made out of actual fruit) so that helps keep me a little more hydrated. Added bonus: if I start off my day with at least 8-16 oz of water, I have a bit more energy during the day.
  • Taking guilty pleasure breaks. If I feel myself getting stressed what do I do? Take a "guilty pleasure break." "What's that?" you may ask. It means that I'll do something that I enjoy for at least half an hour per day. It could be reading a book or watching a TV show that I'd be slightly embarrassed to admit that I read or watch but that makes me happy. If you're curious, let's just say it's usually aimed at a teen audience. Shh! lol.
What Isn't Working
  • Not getting enough sleep. I've been averaging 4-6 hours most nights in the past couple of weeks. At first it was because the fever and infection weren't letting me sleep. Then the maintenance guys were here almost every day for about three straight weeks, not allowing me to sleep. Now it's just become a bad habit that I need to break before classes begin at the end of this month. This means sacrificing certain activities (such as reading one more chapter of a book or watching one more episode of a show I'm hooked on) but it'll be worth it for my health. I try to aim for 6-7.5 hours because I've noticed that that is what works best for me and my mental sharpness.
  • Not listening to what food my body craves. I won't sugar coat it -- I've been eating lousy (yet delicious) food lately. My diet has consisted of a lot of fast, greasy foods which is why my heartburn has been terrible lately. When I see certain foods, my (literal) gut reaction is "ugh, no more" but sometimes it's all that's available so I eat it... and then suffer the consequences. I've also not eaten at times because we run out of food and I can't get to a grocery store because it's too hot outside (and I had no working a/c in my car for most of the summer thus far). With my stomach as sensitive as it has been lately, I'm going to make a list of which fruits and vegetables work (in terms of the acidity my stomach can handle and which foods I'm not allergic to) so I can incorporate more of them into my diet.
  • Not attending confession or Mass for the past 5 weeks. Yes, I know, that's a mortal sin. I have my excuses but it still doesn't feel right. Not only that but not going to confession has had the unfortunate consequence of bad habits popping up again. Since I'm no longer sick like I was early last month, the Sand Fire is no longer an issue (we were advised to stay home because of the air quality being poor and our parish is only a couple of miles from where it was), and since the heat wave we had (which peaked at around 115 degrees or so and left me indoors for 2 straight weeks) is over, I no longer have any excuses. This past weekend was the first on which we could attend Mass without the lack of a/c being a factor (since it was fixed) but both my mom and I didn't feel well enough to attend Mass (she had painful arthritis that not even painkillers helped with and I had a stomach issue which seems to have peaked yesterday). I was kind of miffed that I couldn't attend this weekend after waiting for so long but I'm going to make sure I eat healthier so I don't have a repeat of this weekend. You guys don't know how much I've been wanting to go to both confession and Mass. We've even tried (and failed) to go during the week. It's a yearning at this point. I'm determined to make things right this weekend. Prayers that we're able to go to both, please?
Anyone (that I know offline) want to keep me accountable for any of the three things that I need to work in this month? I give you my permission to get on my case if needed. I'm serious.

That's it for now. I have the house to myself for only 2 more hours so I want to enjoy the silence and the slow pace while I still can. I love my mom but living with an uber-extroverted personality isn't easy when you're an introvert. I need to recharge my energy battery while I still can. :)

I hope y'all are having a lovely start of week!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

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