Finding Joy in Caring for Yourself2:18 PM
Before I get into my stream of conscience, two things that might interest you. FIRST, a newsletter for those who want to read more of my writing outside of this blog or see what I'm reading this week. And SECOND, if you weren't already aware of it, another newsletter that sends updates from this blog to your email inbox.
Thank you for your time.
As anyone with a chronic illness knows, taking care of yourself is exhausting. Whether it's the day-to-day wake up, drink coffee, shower, get dressed, drink additional coffee, or finding the energy to do things just because they're fun and you enjoy them, it's honestly tough.
When you're fighting pain and fatigue, managing that becomes your priority - and rightfully so.
I've talked about the idea of self-care and taking time for yourself before, but I've found sort of a different approach to it. Rather than going out of my way to care for myself, I'm trying to find joy in my daily rituals.
I wake up in pain most days of the week. While I lay in bed until the last possible second, and my dog paws at my face, it's not always easy to motivate myself to face the morning.
I mean, my limbs seriously can't move. Or at least not without causing more pain. And if I roll over and pull my heating pad off the floor, the warmth will quickly lull me back to sleep before I have a chance to rebound from my pain. (I also have blackout curtains in our room, and I have no idea why I made this terrible decision.)
To give myself incentives for waking up and being an adult, I started laying out clever Tracy Traps. These come in various forms.
1. Good coffee
I have yet to teach myself to appreciate coffee on its own. So for me, cinnamon-flavored coffee is my morning mug of choice. I even have an assortment of fun little mugs that bring me joy. (You know those Starbucks "You are here" mugs? Yep, those!)
As I'm trying to crawl out of my blanket cocoon, it's comforting to know that I have something - however small - to warm me from the inside out. And I can't possibly have coffee without my breakfast, so I get extra gold stars for actually feeding myself something healthy and taking my medication.
2. A comforting shower
Somehow, showers are one of the most exhausting things ever. I think it's the fact I'm standing in one place for awhile. And I don't have time for a bath in the morning because, as I said earlier, I'm too busy being pawed in the face by a dog who would like me to wake up and take her outside.
To motivate myself here, I picked up better quality shower gels and lotions from Bath and Body Works. (PSA: Their semi-annual sale is amazing, and I get a year's worth of stuff for like $30.) For whatever reason, this helps me find joy in something that's unfortunately a chore for many people with chronic pain. Maybe it's because I like everything around me to smell wonderfully all the time? It would explain my candle obsession...
3. Clothes I actually like
On days when I'm not obligated to be a real person, it's easy for me to put on something purely with comfort in mind. And I really enjoy and need that some days, but I've also found it can keep me stuck in a rut. There's something empowering and energizing about simply wearing clothes I look nice in, blow-drying my hair and putting on makeup. (That last one is the absolute hardest, and I'm still not sure why.)
For a while, I didn't really understand how someone could find joy in clothing. I wore things I liked, but I always played it safe. Lately, I've challenged myself to wear things that are a little bolder and little less mainstream because that's how I've always wanted to dress. (If you know who Noel Fielding is, he's been my inspiration to break out of my comfort zone.) And I end up being proud of myself and finding joy in something that's hard to do when you're fighting pain and fatigue.
I also get literally 90 percent of my clothes from thrift shops, which is a joy on its own for me.
You may not find joy in the same things I do. It might not even be "things" for you and might be experiences or people or feelings or something else. But whatever it is, I encourage you to find ways to weave them into your daily routine. It makes self-care a lot less daunting and much more natural.
Comment on this post or my Facebook page, and tell me what you do for self-care.