I took the day off and devoted it to self-care.
Okay, so my self-care includes weed-eating around the fenced-in part of the property and mowing several acres on the riding mower. Today it also involved removing the netting from over the strawberry plants and weeding around the plants.
And then my daughter and I went to Lowes for a terra cotta pot.
My spider plant has gotten huge and is root-bound. With plenty of homemade compost to add to the new pot’s soil, I transplanted it into a 12” pot from an 8” pot. We will see, but I’ve got to believe it will be much happier.
I also picked the dead flowers from the vase on the dining room table and added another stargazer lily and a few more iris to the vase. The purples, oranges, and pinks look stunning with the white and purple spots of the stargazer lily.
My self-care is much more physical than someone else’s might be.
What Self-Care Is — and What It Isn’t
When asked the question: “Do you take care of yourself?” most of us will answer “yes” — we’d even think, “What kind of question is this? Of course, I care about myself.”
When asked, “In what ways do you take care of yourself?” — well, that’s where the tricky part begins.
What is self-care?
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.
My self-care today was activities I deliberately did.
I planned them and went after them with purpose and enjoyment. Seeing the results of my labors as I stand on the deck and look at the freshly mowed and trimmed back yard, leave me with a sense of satisfaction.
Coming home from the hospital with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, I wasn’t sure what the doctors, nurses, and therapists meant when they said “self-care.” In fact, I was very turned off using that term. Caring for myself seemed ok, but doing self-care just felt odd.
Now I don’t care what it’s called, I do it.
I am scheduling activities each and every day for my benefit. Things that make me feel good, and relaxed, things that improve my mood and make me less anxious. This focus has been very critical to my new life with depression. I can see how valuable scheduling self-care and then actually doing it is to my well-being.
Much of my self-care involves working in the yard.
Three years ago, we moved to the mountains of Virginia and have five acres nestled in the edge of the mountains that make up Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive. I have added an orchard, and many different berry plants; blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. And we have many, many natural raspberry and blackberry bushes scattered around the property.
Fresh berries for my smoothies have not been a problem for the past few weeks.
Another one of my self-care activities has been to take a colander into the backyard and harvest fresh berries to go in my breakfast smoothie. What a treat this has been. This has got to be on the top of my self-care list.
Our vegetable garden is going crazy with tomatoes.
These are from last year’s plants. As planting time came around, I was preoccupied with my depression. I was not focused or motivated to get the garden going this year. So, when the tomato plants began popping up last month, I started weeding around them.
Now I have 8 tomato plants that are almost 4 feet tall and are just beginning to produce.
There are also watermelons and cantaloupe that have sprouted from the weeds. I cleared the weeds from around the vines and got some of last year’s landscaping fabric under the vines. It almost looks like I planned this year’s garden. I’m happy all my composting and soil preparation last fall has paid off.
This evening’s self-care involves having pizza delivered and playing Rummikub®.
What a treat. I love challenging my mind with board games, card games, and dice games. We also play Scrabble and have the regular edition, plus Super Scrabble. Super Scrabble is perfect for a late summer afternoon on the back deck. The deck is shaded by 4 PM, and there is usually a breeze that takes the edge off the late afternoon summer heat.
When it starts getting dark, I have an oil lamp that was my Grandmothers that we used to see the tiles. Sometimes, when we play Rummikub® on the deck after dark, I need a little extra light to tell the difference between the black and the blue tiles. Then I pull out my small lamp that is shaped like a lighthouse. Sometimes, the lamp brings me luck and I win a few games.
I am becoming the poster boy for self-care.
It is still not quite automatic, but I have written out a list of 11 things I enjoy doing and use the list to plan activities if I can’t think of something. Not all involve a full day outside in the yard, some are as simple as sitting for 15 minutes and reading a book. I just finished Travel’s with Charley by John Steinbeck. The point is to do something you enjoy, at a time you decide.
Maybe someday they will change the name from “self-care” to “let’s do this for fun” or something, anything else. But please don’t let my poking fun at the name keep you from doing it.
Self-care is a cornerstone of my recovery.
So, the doorbell is ringing, and dinner is here. Gotta go and enjoy my self-care with green peppers and pepperoni.
Your comments are appreciated as I continue my journey.