Self Care Part 2: Secure your own mask

Miss part 1?  Find it here.

I talked in part 1 about how I came to understand the importance of self care.  I firmly believe it is a vital part of how we live, breathe, heal, and be.  But it’s one thing coming from me.  I’ve talked to other bloggers, sex educators, and writers to get their impression of self care and why it’s important.  I gave each of them a set of questions, and told them they could either answer the questions, or use them as a jumping off point and discuss whatever they need to in order to get their ideas across.  Here’s what they had to say.


 

Crista Anne, sexuality writer, rainbow colored pleasure activist, Cristaanne.com.  You may have seen the very talented Crista Anne featured on CNN for her extremely important campaign of self discovery (and may I say, self care), #OrgasmQuest.

What does self care mean to you?
It means any small or large action that one takes that raises their spirits, relaxes or recharges them. Anything that you do for yourself. Self care is a radical form of resistance to a society that thrives on our self doubt.

Why do you feel it’s important?
It’s vital to me. I think it’s vital for everyone now that the internet/technology has changed our lives to the possibility of 24/7 on call work. It reminds me that I am important. That my needs matter. I am worthy of doing things for myself.

How do you self care?
Self care can be anything from an extra bit of sugar of my coffee in the morning, sitting still for a few minutes, playing with my appearance, taking selfies, but most of the time self care for me takes the form of self pleasure. Masturbation is my main means of self care.

Why is self care important to mental health?
#OrgasmQuest!! You’d think I’d have a snappy answer for this by now, but my response is verbose. I have chronic PTSD. Self Care helps keep me from falling into the darkness, or helps raise me out.


 

Jillian Boyd, author and blogger, ladylaidbare.com and jillianboydauthor.wordpress.com

What does self care mean to you?
Comfort, in some form. An allowance of breathing space. Re-evaluation. Something I have to remind myself of that I am allowed to do when needed.

Why is it important?
It’s important to me because, as I mentioned, all too often I need to remind myself that it’s okay to take a bit of a break and take care of myself. It’s my body, my mind and my soul, and all these things have to collaborate to be able to do what I do. It’s like a domino system: one thing is interrupted, the rest falls with it. Without the occasional space for self-care, I wouldn’t be able to function to the best of my abilities.

How do you self care?
Simple things like taking a walk to clear my head. Showering. Reading. One of my most effective ways of self care, the one that’s gotten me out of many a dark moment, is making things. I mainly bake and knit, because the repetitive actions of knitting and concentration in baking help me center myself.

Why is self care important to mental health?
To me, it’s important because my depression and my anxiety can both get so fierce and physically demanding that I am often left feeling like there’s nothing left of me. Self care is there to build those bits back up. It may not be perfect, and I may not feel completely better afterwards, but it plays its part, and the part is important.


Victoria Reuveni, sexologist, SexologistVixenne.com

Self-care is, simply put, taking care of myself. Doing things to nourish myself physically or otherwise. Whether it’s making sure I get my manicures and pedicures, going to the theater, taking a nap, eating delicious, decadent food, or whatever, I need to give back to myself so that I can be present and be of service to others in my life both personal and professional.

In terms of mental health, I think self-care is a bit underrated. We don’t value taking time for ourselves (as a culture). We always have to be moving and shaking, doing something, chasing that buck. I think self-care often takes a backseat because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). It’s okay to sit still and do nothing. It’s okay to stay at home if you prefer to not go out.


 

Miko Technogeisha, writer and educator, Lifeontheswingset.com and technogeisha.com

To me, self care is akin to putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. If I’m not taking care of myself, physically and mentally, I can’t fully be there for others. Self care is letting go of the guilty feeling about taking care of myself first so I can do what’s necessary to heal and grow.

When I make time for self care, I find improvements across the board. I have a tendency to work myself into the ground which negatively impacts my health. Stress, anxiety and exhaustion diminishes how well I can work and take care of my family. It’s important to take time for myself so I can be a better parent and partner while also improving my work.

Things that improve my mood, that help me to feel grounded or releases stress are all part of self care for me. It can be as simple as a weekly dance class or my morning run. Taking time to read quietly, taking a dance break in the living room, or even singing along to my favorite songs works well. Turning off the phone and stepping away from the computer to focus on things I enjoy like playing board games, going to see a movie or even just watching a show that make me laugh out loud. Whatever I choose, the goal is to minimize input and rest my brain (I multitask way too much) and do things that feel good. Self care is also making sure I’m staying healthy. Making time to work out or even just taking a walk, meditating and being mindful, eating healthy but also treating myself from time to time to delicious food like my favorite Indian restaurant or sushi, and getting rest like a good night’s sleep which I don’t do often enough.

Lack of self care can really affect your mental health, this took me a very long time to learn. I’ve never put my need first; always family, work, friends, obligations but never me. When I was younger I didn’t notice the toll it was taking but now that I’m in cougar territory and raising two kids I feel the negative effects. I didn’t realize the constant stress of pushing myself and not taking downtime meant I had a non-stop feed of cortisol and other stress induced brain chemicals. I was experiencing the worst anxiety and depression ever while finding myself getting sick or hurt then not healing fast. Not to mention to always feeling exhausted. Since I made time to self care I find I’ve become more resilient mentally and physically. It helps to manage my depression and eases anxiety. I also think more clearly, helping to make better overall decisions. As an ambivert, self care helps the extrovert to not burn out and the introvert recover from the stress of dealing with the world. It’s regular maintenance that can improve your mental health.


JoEllen Notte, writer and educator, www.redheadbedhead.com

So to me self care is the day to day equivalent of securing your own mask first (like they tell you to do with oxygen masks on planes). It’s making sure your needs are met before you give of yourself to others. It sounds really simple but for a lot of us it’s incredibly hard.

To explain why it’s important I’m going to reference something called “the Spoon Theory.” If I use all my spoons taking care of everything everyone else wants done I have none left to take care of me and, being someone who deals with mental health and physical health challenges, I’m starting off a few spoons down so it’s important that I start by taking care of me first. Then it’s possible for me to be able be available for others.

A very recent self-care discovery that came courtesy of my friend Lauren Marie Fleming is that I have to make my default answer to every request on my time “no”. Otherwise I end up spreading my self way too thin, doing far too much for far too little reward and in the end letting other people down while making myself miserable. So moving forward, my default answer is “no” then I can take the space and make sure my “yes”es are genuine and doable.

As far as self care and mental health, when I’m practicing good self care I’m in a far better place. Just this week I realized I had slipped and taken on too much and I have been feeling the effects on both my physical and mental well-being. To me there’s no question, the self care-mental health connection is huge.


And there you have it, folks!  A little bit of self care 101.  From here on out, I will remember when I need to back out and go meditate, or go out to dinner, or just spend 10 minutes with a book, it’s not something to feel guilty about, but necessary.  Remembering to care for myself helps me care for others.  As Miko and JoEllen both said, sometimes I need to secure my oxygen mask first.  I won’t help anyone if I’m the first to drop.


Comments

Self Care Part 2: Secure your own mask — 1 Comment

  1. Thank you for including me in this awesome article – reading the responses from the other contributors is enlightning. Miko and JoEllen talking about securing the oxygen mask – I’d never thought of it in that way, but it makes so much sense.

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