weeknotes #23: self-care, adulting, and listening to your body are not the same thing

Yes, a controversial title, but also kind of not. This blog post is based on my personal experiences and personal thoughts, and all of this stuff is incredibly nuanced and can overlap, but at the same time I think it is important to understand what this means to you.

Adulting, as I have written about before, is hard and annoying. People call anything adulting these days. The fact that I, just now, accidentally downloaded a page from my blog instead of opening it in a new tab, is not me failing at adulting. We sometimes like to use that word when we are incredibly inefficient and lazy. Is it actual “adulting”? Nah. This is how I described “adulting” in a previous blog post:

But I think it’s just a word that describes the things – whatever they may be, at whatever stage we are in life, no matter how old we are – that we feel like we need to do, or know how to do, but just won’t or can’t.

There are some life maintenance bullshit things like booking haircuts, cleaning your workspace, buying soap or shampoo or body wash or toothpaste or dental floss, watering the plants, and trimming your nails, that people might call self-care, but are kind of not. Is buying dental floss to floss your teeth actually self-care, or do you simply feel good about the fact that you have committed to flossing more often? But then maybe the fact that you have committed to taking better care of yourself, brings the positive feeling that good self-care generally feels like.

A small white pot with a small plant with sword-shaped leaves in it. At the side is a small offshoot that appears to be growing the same sword-shaped leaves.
I gave my sansevieria some sunlight, and it responded with a new shoot.

A large portion of things we need to maintain, or keep an eye out for, or be responsible for, often fall into the category of adulting, but many people see it as self-care. But it is more the process of ticking off all of these responsibilities and doing all these things makes you feel like you are taking care of yourself.

There’s this thing about listening to your body. I have become more aware of this premise since I started exercising more regularly, and especially since getting a personal trainer who has encouraged me to take rest. In years gone by, I would train so hard at the gym and not allow my body to rest, but now I pay attention to how my body is feeling and decide if I’m up for some brutal strength workout or if I should just go for a leisurely walk and enjoy some fresh air.

I used to be a horrible workaholic, and at times my working hours run late – and sometimes I can only blame myself for not respecting my own boundaries. But when I got the virus recently, I found that I had to pay more attention to my body. When I felt like I needed to sleep, I went to lie in bed. When I felt like I had a headache, and it wouldn’t go away, I took painkillers. As I was recovering from the virus, returning to my routine was more difficult than I had originally thought. I did listen to my body, both while I was sick and when I was recovering, and when I felt better I went to the gym and returned to strength training. Listening to your body is under this umbrella of self-care, but it’s only a small fraction, and it’s usually directly related to health, either mental or physical.

Self-care looks different for everyone. I think that a lot of tasks that aren’t distinctly self-care end up accumulating with other tasks and delivering this feeling of things improving, and getting better, and improved mental positivity, and often physically feeling better. It isn’t so much the individual tasks as it is the outcome or effect that it achieves.

I have been really tired lately. My sleep has been fine, but I haven’t felt as much motivation. Adulting efforts have been really low. I haven’t always felt motivated to do the smallest of things. Even updating my credit card details to my new details on my autofill on my phone has felt like a chore. But please just give me a clap for doing this.

I’ve spent the long weekend exchanging voice messages with Pauline, and she inspired me to clean out my social media and unfollow anyone whose content I no longer wanted to read. I was being bombarded with a lot of fitness and tech related content that I didn’t actually enjoy, and had been following a lot of people whom I didn’t really interact with much. It really helped to stop following that content, because I unconsciously went back to actually reading and looking at things on my feed.

I can’t tell you how long it has been since I actually properly read stuff on Twitter. For a long time I just used Twitter to tweet shit. And then I’d periodically see if anyone interacted with what I wrote. And then I didn’t care too much.

But over the past day alone, I’ve interacted with some people whom I actually like and care about, and have actually read the stuff that some of my friends and online friends have been posting. I’ve actually felt a lot better now that I feel like I’m in more control.

It may not be much, but as I sit here sipping my aqua-coloured “blue train” gin cocktail, having booked in my next haircut today and been able to organise a dinner with my family whom I haven’t seen in a while, I guess maybe this is just a couple of the things that will ultimately feel like “self-care”.

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