In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus on self care and what it looks like in my life. I’ve decided to start a new (semi) regular blog series called Self Care Is, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. Self care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, many of whom know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. But I view it as a journey and since I’m inclined to share my life in this space, I figured I’d invite you along in the journey as well.
Last fall, I was having a really tough time with anxiety. I wasn’t taking care of myself mentally. I was indulging in my stressors (like reading the news). I was constantly worried about things that probably wouldn’t happen (like Luke being in an accident or dying at work) and things I couldn’t control (like American politics). Luke, being the supportive husband he is, did some research and got me into a programme for free CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I started in November and carried on through the new year. Accounting for the holidays and our travel, it was only five or six sessions, but none of them were as transformative as the first.
The therapist recommended that I start practising “Worry Time”. I don’t do it exactly how he explained, but I have continued with the practice for over nine months now. When I find myself worrying about something, I write down the worry and then I write down the “truth”. Maybe the truth is that something is worth worrying about, but it also gives me the space to step back and look at something objectively and think about it more logically and less emotionally.
For example, if my worry is that Luke will be injured at work (which I actually don’t “worry” about as much any more these days compared to the almost daily basis before), the truth is that Luke is highly trained in health and safety and the nature of his job requires him to be responsible for his own safety as well as the people working under him. Luke is responsible and cautious and it’s simply highly unlikely he would put himself in danger of being hurt or killed.
With other things that maybe are worth worrying about, like perhaps the 2018 mid-term elections, it’s more about putting it into perspective. I cannot control the outcome of the election. I can only do my part in voting or encouraging others to vote and helping to spread factual information before people go to the polls.
I have a reminder set on my phone every day to sit down and do worry time. This was part of the explanation given by the therapist, but it was more so that I would have a set amount of time to worry about the things I’m worried about. However, I’ve found that when it’s more like a task to do throughout the day, I don’t need to spend time worrying about something, I just need to present a logical argument against the worry. I’ve noticed a dramatic drop in the irrational things I worry about and the amount of time I spend swimming in my anxiety every day.
I’m not cured by any means. My anxiety has not gone away. But now I feel like I have a better handle on it. The last few months have actually been quite low in anxiety for me, but I’ve continued to practice worry time because it’s a habit I want to build into my life so that when shit hits the fan down the road and I’m more anxious overall, I already have some sort of guardrail built in to hopefully protect myself from falling into a darker place than I can control.
I also don’t do it every day. Some days it would just be too forced. But anywhere from two to four days a week, I do sit down and consider if something is weighing on me and what the truth of it is.
What does self care look like to you? Let me know in the comments and remember there is no right or wrong answer!