Self-Care Weekend

Since my last post, life has been kind of crazy for me.  Between work, family, friends, and my own stuff, I had little time to catch my breath and take time for myself.  I decided it was time for a self-care weekend, which is a self-care break extended.  I disconnected myself from Twitter, Facebook (mostly), and home and I took the weekend to live in the present moment and take it simply for myself.

My self-care weekend happened to take place just at the right time for me since my friend happened to be in town from out of state.  We spent the weekend doing the Seattle tourist bit, which is always fun to do with visitors since I never really get out and do those things.  Our weekend included downtown, Seattle Center, and the piers and that was only Saturday.  We also spent the weekend talking and catching up.  That is invaluable when times are tougher regardless if the discussion is on the difficult stuff or not.  I cannot stress the importance it had on my weekend and time spent with my friend, especially since I usually do not have that day-to-day.

The possibilities for self-care weekends are truly endless since everyone is different.  I would highly recommend if you are having a difficult time or are stressed out to take the time for yourself whether it is in the form of 10 minutes, an hour, a weekend, etc.  Take a day or two to disconnect from social media and other types of things that are not always the healthiest.  One of the other things that I have disconnected with, which I continue to disconnect from, is TV simply because I felt too triggered at the time by commercials.  It is okay to take care of yourself.  If you cannot believe that right now, keep repeating it until you do.  Make yourself a priority and take good self-care.

Check back in the next post or two for some self-care ideas.  I will post some of my personal favorites.

Identity: Discovering the ‘Self’ in Recovery

Who am I?  It seems to be ever evolving, especially in the process of recovery.  I have always been my self and known my self, but I have also had other identities that have seemed to linger.  These other identities have been one of mental illness and EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).

I have carried the identity of mental illness since childhood when my issues started.  My EDNOS identity did not creep in until college when I become ill with my eating disorder.  Both of these identities seem to have been “stamped” upon my forehead as truth.  This was especially true when I was in treatment and my awareness of being ill was at the forefront of my mind.  How could I forget these identities when the focus of my day-to-day was nearly solely about them?

As I have moved forward in recovery, I have discovered these identities are not so fitting anymore.  I am out of treatment and there is no expectation/reason that I shall ever return.  I am stable on my medications and have been consistently for many months.  To put it plainly, I am at a better place in my life than I ever have been before.

So, who am I now?  I am still my self, but these identities are not part of that anymore.  Recovery has given me the chance to change that.  It has given me the opportunity to discover that I am not my eating disorder any longer but someone who is strongly in recovery.  That former definition of “EDNOS” does not fit me any longer.  Though I will always be, for example, OCD, I am not my OCD and I am not that former identity.  It is a part of me, but it is not who I am anymore.  I do not have to be either of those definitions any longer nor was I ever truly either in the first place.

Recovery, whether it is from mental illness(es) or an eating disorder, begins a re-definition of self or maybe a discovery of the true self that has been lost or unknown.  It gives us all a chance to be more than the label/definition of “eating disorder”, “OCD”, or any others we may have.  We can begin to discover in this process that we are not those identities and were never really those things, we are so much more and have the ability to be so much more.  It is in recovery that the possibility exists to free ourselves from those negative definitions and find the true definition of who we are, who we are going to be, etc.  It is in recovery that we come to find out that those definitions of “eating disorder”, “OCD”, etc. were only ever definitions were gave to ourselves rather than true definitions of who we truly are as a person.

Without my EDNOS and mental illness identities, I am free to be the self  I am.  I am also free to create new definitions of who I am.  I am still trying to figure out exactly what that entails, but with recovery, I have the ability to discover those things and redefine my self in positive rather than negative ways.  I have the opportunity now to truly think, ‘Who do I want to be?’, ‘What do I want to do with my life?’, ‘What kind of life do I wish to live?’, etc.  The answers to those questions are still pending.

What about you in your recovery?  Who are you outside of your mental illness(es), eating disorder, addiction, etc.?  What have you discovered about your self?

Basics of Self-Care Breaks

I apologize for being absent as of late.  I have been so busy with work, appointments, the holiday, etc.  When I have not been busy, I have been taking time to simply take a break.  Much, much needed breaks.  For me, breaks are essential because I get easily worn down both physically and emotionally.  I need time during activities and for a day or two in between activities to just have rest.  Rest for me includes a lot of alone time.

I have developed this skill of self-care breaks over time.  It is not always easy given that I am not always able to leave parties or find a good spot to just be alone.  Also, there may not be days where I get to rest in between my schedule.  Regardless of the situation, it is important to take breaks anyways.  Make the time for your self-care.  Ensure the breaks are well-balanced between not too little and not too much.  Lastly, get the most you can from the time and space you have to work with, especially if it is not ideal.

As I mentioned, there are a few basic kinds of breaks (with some overlaps of course).  The first is a “time-out”.  Second is naps.  The third is a “day off”.  There also may be others that you have in your recovery/self-care skills, so do not be limited by my short list of these three.  Here’s how each of these work:

1. Time-Out

  • A time-out is walking away temporarily from a stressful, emotionally, and/or overwhelming event such as a party, dinner, a sporting event, or shopping.  I find this is best done when I can find an alone, quiet spot.  However, it is not always possible.  If there is no alone, quite spot, then find the spot that is most comfortable for you.  Maybe even plan it ahead of time, which I do frequently, especially to parties.
  • In the time-out, take the time to calm yourself, collect your thoughts, and avoid impulsive decisions.  This is your time to breathe and be ready to get back to whatever activity you are at.  Be mindful of your thoughts and remember this is not about rumination but about calming and refocus yourself to be able to rejoin the party.  Sometimes when I am worked up in a time-out, I will listen to music, Facebook, and watch cute cat videos on YouTube (because that is how I roll).  If there is something you have that is calming such as reading, then be sure to have that available at events you know where you will need a time-out.

2. Naps

  • Naps are so awesome for so many reasons.  According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of napping include relaxation, the reduction of fatigue, increased alertness, and improved mood.  The other benefit (though this is mostly personal) is being able to nap with my kitty.  I would be this is true for any pet owner.
  • The Mayo Clinic adds that naps are best done when short (10-30mins) or you will likely be more groggy, when taken in the afternoon to not interfere with nighttime sleep though it also depends on your personal sleep schedule, and when you have a comfortable, quiet, dark room to sleep in.  If you do not follow these Mayo Clinic suggestions, do not get upset with yourself.  It is okay to take the time you need, but still be mindful on your napping.  It is important to keep an eye on how much rest you need, if you are getting enough, or if you are getting too much.
  • Naps can also work as a time-out.  There are times when I am so exhausted from a full day and then going to another activity where I am stressed that I need to go take a nap, for example.  Sometimes these are unplanned in which I have to improved a space and other times they are planned in which I have a space picked out for naps and time-outs.  If it is not too hot or cold, I would suggest the car as a great napping area.  It is not always the most comfortable, but it is generally quiet.  I usually have a few blankets stashed in mine, so I am extra comfortable.  See what is the right option for you.

3. Day Off

  • A day off is exactly how it sounds–a day off.  The definition of a day off will vary for everyone.  My personal days off include lots of Netflix, some video games, maybe the beach (if I want to leave the house), time with my kitty, and general no-work day.  I allow myself a day (or half-day if that is what I have) to rest, relax and not have to do anything.  I do not schedule anything either.  It is a do-whatever-I-want day.  For you, a day off may include some of these things.  You may decide a day off includes leaving your house, too.  Whatever is most relaxing, restful, rejuvenating, and not a have-to/work-related activity is perfect for a day off.  Trust me, letting yourself watch movies on Netflix for one day will not rot your brain, especially since there are now TED talks on it!
  • Naps are great for a day off, too.  (Naps are great for everything IMO!)  It is about a day of rest, so rest!  Allow yourself to have that time and the day to rest and relax because you need it, deserve it, and care for your mind, body, and soul.

What kind of breaks do you take?  What do you enjoy doing during rest and relaxation?

Scale Art Project

After weighing myself and feeling the consequences of that action, I decided that it was time for an art project and what better than to use my own scale.  I took to what magazines I had in the house and cut out what I could find to remind myself why weighing myself is not a good option, what I lose by starting that behavior again, what it cost me when I did weigh myself every few hours, etc.  My scale has never looked so beautiful.

In the throes of my eating disorder, weighing myself was one of the behaviors I would engage in.  A lot.  It would keep me in my disorder and fuel it.  It did not matter if the number on the scale was a loss, gain, or maintain.  It triggered and fueled my eating disorder.  It gave Ed more life with every number.

The question is: is this where I want to be?  In my eating disorder weighing myself?  Missing out on my life?  Living in fear of being discovered, the next number on the scale, or the ED behaviors weighing myself might provoke?  Living with the stress, sadness, mayhem, and problems that feel so unbearable while in an eating disorder?  I do not believe this is what I want or where I want to be.

Next time I look at my scale or am tempted to jump on it, I will be reminded of what I have fought for, what I continue to fight for, and that life where I weigh myself excessively is over.

What about others out there?  Do you still have your scale?  Is it time for you to turn it into a work of art like I did?  What kind of decoration would you put on yours?

Or maybe is it time to get rid of your scale?  Be mindful on the role of your scale in your life, whether or not it is a trigger for you, and how “safe” it is still being around.  Sometimes people are not ready to let go just yet and that is okay.  Know or think about where you are and decide what is comfortable for you.  I do, however, challenge you to challenge yourself.  You might be surprised.

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Another idea is smashing your scale.  This is a good idea if you are not into decorating, are getting rid of your scale, or simply want to destroy your scale in epic fashion.  Take pictures or a video if you feel it necessary.  Have others with you if that feels right.  Maybe even make an art project our of the remains.  Have fun with it because good riddance!