One thing I appreciate about my therapist is that she knows the value of self-care. Every session I have with her she asks me if I’m doing things I enjoy or things that help with my mental health. I’ve been going to her for a year and a half or so, so she knows me well enough to ask specifics—birding, light therapy, walks, getting outside. Because of current struggles my initial motivation has been very low, so I’m grateful she asks and holds me accountable. If I haven’t been doing those things, she adamantly reminds me that I need to be doing them.
An interesting thing is that even though my motivation has been greatly lacking, I’ve actually been forcing myself to do these things. And when I do, I never regret it. I haven’t been sleeping well, so nights/mornings my kids are with their dad I tend to take a sleeping pill and try to sleep in late. A few days ago, however, I actually decided to wake up early and go birding at sunrise. Dawn is my absolute favorite time of the day. When my alarm went off I almost stayed in bed. Even though I wasn’t super motivated and didn’t immediately and happily jump out of bed I did decide to get up and go birding. I’m so glad I did! It felt amazing to be in a beautiful place in nature at dawn. And I got some great photos! Was I tired later? Sure, but I’m tired every day. Getting up early to do something I enjoy was absolutely worth it.
Self-care may not change the circumstances of our lives, but it is essential in helping with our mental health. Despite my current struggles and difficulties, I’ve been doing mostly okay lately, partly because I’ve been pushing myself to do the things I enjoy, even if it’s hard to get that initial motivation. Self-care is not selfish or indulgent. It is care for ourselves that is necessary.