Self Care 101

A blog for heathens and hell-raisers, artists and activists. For those who try to comply but grow weary and long for a little bit of rebellion and love. 閑不徹

Self Care 101 Announcement

Happy Summer, everyone! I am happy to announce that this blog has reached over 1,000 followers - it makes me happy to know that so many people are interested in taking time to care for themselves and their community. 

I have not updated this blog much in the last few years, but I am feeling motivated to write more and to share my experiences of dealing with and healing from anxiety, depression, and trauma. They are not the easiest experiences to write about and share publicly, but I realize that my experiences are not uncommon and finding solidarity can be a huge source of strength.

I will be participating in Think and Die Thinking's Summer of Discontent, writing a Self Care 101 zine! It will be available in digital and print format in September. 

I will be busy all summer working on music and writing projects, but in the meantime, submit your favourite self care tips! My ask box is always open.

1. Trauma permanently changes us.

This is the big, scary truth about trauma: there is no such thing as “getting over it.” The five stages of grief model marks universal stages in learning to accept loss, but the reality is in fact much bigger: a major life disruption leaves a new normal in its wake. There is no “back to the old me.” You are different now, full stop.

This is not a wholly negative thing. Healing from trauma can also mean finding new strength and joy. The goal of healing is not a papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal. It is to acknowledge and wear your new life — warts, wisdom, and all — with courage.

2. Presence is always better than distance.

There is a curious illusion that in times of crisis people “need space.” I don’t know where this assumption originated, but in my experience it is almost always false. Trauma is a disfiguring, lonely time even when surrounded in love; to suffer through trauma alone is unbearable. Do not assume others are reaching out, showing up, or covering all the bases.

It is a much lighter burden to say, “Thanks for your love, but please go away,” than to say, “I was hurting and no one cared for me.” If someone says they need space, respect that. Otherwise, err on the side of presence.

3. Healing is seasonal, not linear.

It is true that healing happens with time. But in the recovery wilderness, emotional healing looks less like a line and more like a wobbly figure-8. It’s perfectly common to get stuck in one stage for months, only to jump to another end entirely … only to find yourself back in the same old mud again next year.

Recovery lasts a long, long time. Expect seasons.

4. Surviving trauma takes “firefighters” and “builders.” Very few people are both.

This is a tough one. In times of crisis, we want our family, partner, or dearest friends to be everything for us. But surviving trauma requires at least two types of people: the crisis team — those friends who can drop everything and jump into the fray by your side, and the reconstruction crew — those whose calm, steady care will help nudge you out the door into regaining your footing in the world. In my experience, it is extremely rare for any individual to be both a firefighter and a builder. This is one reason why trauma is a lonely experience. Even if you share suffering with others, no one else will be able to fully walk the road with you the whole way.

A hard lesson of trauma is learning to forgive and love your partner, best friend, or family even when they fail at one of these roles. Conversely, one of the deepest joys is finding both kinds of companions beside you on the journey.

5. Grieving is social, and so is healing.

For as private a pain as trauma is, for all the healing that time and self-work will bring, we are wired for contact. Just as relationships can hurt us most deeply, it is only through relationship that we can be most fully healed.

It’s not easy to know what this looks like — can I trust casual acquaintances with my hurt? If my family is the source of trauma, can they also be the source of healing? How long until this friend walks away? Does communal prayer help or trivialize?

Seeking out shelter in one another requires tremendous courage, but it is a matter of life or paralysis. One way to start is to practice giving shelter to others.

6. Do not offer platitudes or comparisons. Do not, do not, do not.

“I’m so sorry you lost your son, we lost our dog last year … ” “At least it’s not as bad as … ” “You’ll be stronger when this is over.” “God works in all things for good!”

When a loved one is suffering, we want to comfort them. We offer assurances like the ones above when we don’t know what else to say. But from the inside, these often sting as clueless, careless, or just plain false.

Trauma is terrible. What we need in the aftermath is a friend who can swallow her own discomfort and fear, sit beside us, and just let it be terrible for a while.

7. Allow those suffering to tell their own stories.

Of course, someone who has suffered trauma may say, “This made me stronger,” or “I’m lucky it’s only (x) and not (z).” That is their prerogative. There is an enormous gulf between having someone else thrust his unsolicited or misapplied silver linings onto you, and discovering hope for one’s self. The story may ultimately sound very much like “God works in all things for good,” but there will be a galaxy of disfigurement and longing and disorientation in that confession. Give the person struggling through trauma the dignity of discovering and owning for himself where, and if, hope endures.

8. Love shows up in unexpected ways.

This is a mystifying pattern after trauma, particularly for those in broad community: some near-strangers reach out, some close friends fumble to express care. It’s natural for us to weight expressions of love differently: a Hallmark card, while unsatisfying if received from a dear friend, can be deeply touching coming from an old acquaintance.

Ultimately every gesture of love, regardless of the sender, becomes a step along the way to healing. If there are beatitudes for trauma, I’d say the first is, “Blessed are those who give love to anyone in times of hurt, regardless of how recently they’ve talked or awkwardly reconnected or visited cross-country or ignored each other on the metro.” It may not look like what you’d request or expect, but there will be days when surprise love will be the sweetest.

9. Whatever doesn’t kill you …

In 2011, after a publically humiliating year, comedian Conan O’Brien gave students at Dartmouth College the following warning:

"Nietzsche famously said, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ … What he failed to stress is that it almost kills you.”
Odd things show up after a serious loss and creep into every corner of life: insatiable anxiety in places that used to bring you joy, detachment or frustration towards your closest companions, a deep distrust of love or presence or vulnerability.

There will be days when you feel like a quivering, cowardly shell of yourself, when despair yawns as a terrible chasm, when fear paralyzes any chance for pleasure. This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.

10. … Doesn’t kill you.

Living through trauma may teach you resilience. It may help sustain you and others in times of crisis down the road. It may prompt humility. It may make for deeper seasons of joy. It may even make you stronger.

It also may not.

In the end, the hope of life after trauma is simply that you have life after trauma. The days, in their weird and varied richness, go on. So will you.

—Catherine Woodiwiss, “A New Normal: Ten Things I’ve Learned About Trauma” (via lepetitmortpourmoi)

(Source: soishothimintheface, via heavymuffintop)

Important Note About Self Care 101

As my follower count increases, I have been receiving more messages in my inbox. Some of them are people sending in helpful tips for self-care (keep ‘em coming!) and many more are people asking for specific advice - and often about very serious topics. 

While I love the idea of providing a space where people can find inspiration to heal, I am not a mental health care provider. I am not trained in mental health services in any way, nor can I provide you with advice or answers. I find it to be an enormous weight and responsibility when I receive these sorts of messages, as I do not want people to feel ignored but I am not comfortable advising people on extremely difficult topics. 

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (for residents of the USA and Canada) at 1-800-273-8255. You can also find additional resources on their website, http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. 

I welcome you all to send me further resources that can be posted on this website so that people in need of immediate or long-term help can have some resources on hand. 

Be well!

Anonymous asked: So ie struggled with EDNOS for 3 years and have been learning to be okay with eating as much food as I want without feeling guilty. But my doctors also tell me I'm overweight. How can I stay in recovery but also loose weight?? I'm scared I won't be able to find the balance between mental and physical health

Finding the balance between mental and physical heath can be an enormous challenge. Even if you feel like you are struggling, the fact that you are brave enough to seek balance and health is admirable.

While I can’t answer difficult questions about your personal situation, it may be helpful to be honest and talk with your doctor about your fears. If you’re not comfortable talking to a doctor on your own, perhaps you can confide in someone you trust and ask them to be with you when you initiate a conversation. Confronting a doctor about your own health and needs can be difficult. Having some backup may be the extra boost of courage you need!

Best of luck to you! I wish you balance and happiness and an abundance of self-love. You are brave and wonderful and I have no doubt that you will survive and thrive in this life!

Anonymous asked: Self-care movies: Ponyo, Totoro, Chihiro by Miyazaki. As for books, I'd say my favourite children's books (clever ones that aim a teen audience with pretty illustrations).

Thank you for the submission! I love Miyazaki films as self care as well. 

Remember, followers, my ask box is always open and eager for submissions!

dr-john-twatson asked: thank you so much for this blog. I plan on making a self care zine (a self published magazine) and this has really inspired me! hopefully ill be able to give it out to people who need that self care! thanks again!

Receiving messages like this makes my heart glow. Thank you!

Anonymous asked: My best friend is suicidal, and I have tried to help her but I dont know what to do now, she is saying that there is nothing left and that no one can help her.

That is such a scary situation to be in and I am sorry your friend is struggling so hard. If you are in the USA, you can call  1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is a help line run by the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This line will allow you to talk to someone who can point you to resources available in your area. They also have a helpful list of things to do when someone is threatening suicide:

https://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/someone.aspx

Please let me know if this is relevant information, and be sure to take care of yourself, too. I am sending strength and positive thoughts your way!

Self Care 101 Update

I have not updated this blog in a long time (largely due to a personal need for some deep self-care) but had quite a shock when I saw today that my follower count has jumped from 250 to over 600 - holy moly! It is amazing that so many of you found this blog and I hope it has been helpful and inspiring for your own journey in self-care. Since there is clearly an audience for this blog, I will do my best to start writing again and posting tips and resources as I find them. 

As always, please feel free to let me know what you would like to see covered on this blog. My ask box is always open!

Anonymous asked: I just wanted to say for all those who try yoga for stress, hot yoga's actually bad for your tendons and ligaments. Hatha yoga is much better for you, and still very good for stress.

Thanks for the info!

selfcareafterrape:
The Basics:
Common Responses to Rape/Sexual Assault(ppt)
Talking About Trauma (ppt)
Traumaversaries
Why You Aren’t Bad for Loving Your Abuser.
Need Help With:
Sleep
Nightmares
Surviving the Holidays (ppt)
Overstimulated Nerves
Self-Injury (ppt)
Flashbacks (ppt)
Dissociating (ppt)
Triggers:
I’m triggered- Now What?
More On Triggers
On Purposely Triggering Yourself
Boundaries:
Boundaries (ppt)
Boundaries 101
Boundaries: How to set them
Self-Care:
What is Self Care Anyway?
BACE Method
Self Care When You Lack a Sense of Self
Interpersonal Self-Care
Emotional Self Care
Physical Self Care
Consent/sex:
Intimacy After Rape
Lets Talk Consent
Lets Talk Sex
Sexuality After Rape
For Friends/Family/Partners of Survivors:
How to Help a Friend Who Has Been Raped.(ppt)
Avoiding Awkward- How to talk about rape when we talk to survivors.(ppt)
Sometimes the easiest thing to say is the worst.
A Friend is Self Harming (ppt)
Comfort In. Complain Out.
What Can I Do?
A Friend is Dissociating.(ppt)

my favorite self care is animals! many animal shelters are happy to have people socialize their animals, and its a great way to hang out with some non-judgemental furry friends!

* * *

This is great advice - there are even studies that support the notion that spending time around animals can help ease depression and anxiety and improve health. I love animals and it is always a treat to cuddle with a cute cat or dog after a stressful day. Thanks for this great submission!

The Benefits of Mindfulness

moonsiren:

1. It helps us to let go of the tiredness, stress and negativity that clutters up our mind. That then frees us to be still, and get in touch with our true self.

2. It helps us get in touch with our feelings and emotions - so we’re able to respond, and not simply react. 

3. It helps us get in touch with our empathy - so we’re more able to listen, understand, connect and get inside the world of other people in our lives.

4. It keeps our focus on the present - so we’re not trapped by the past, or the pain and regret that can stop us moving on. Or, by concerns about the future, which haven’t happened yet!

5. It helps to keep us grounded in who we really are. That can increase our self confidence and self esteem, and we’re able to access and draw upon our strengths.

6. The body and mind are closely intertwined. Thus, if we’re careful to attend to our mental wellbeing it’s like to be good for our physical health, too.

(Source: onlinecounsellingcollege)

words to live by

words to live by

(via juonce)