Thursday, June 3, 2021

Why self care feels like it takes so much time


This morning while journaling I had a revelation. Like many revelations it felt small in the moment it happened.  It was just one sentence, a question, in the midst of a longer rumination of words about how much of a struggle it can be to fit selfcare and healing into my daily routine.

Will selfcare feel any easier when disrupting my old ways of coping is no longer a part of the process?

It is one of those questions that seems to have the answer in its asking. Well, yes…of course it will be easier, or course it will take less time.

I was writing about how difficult it feels to fit selfcare into my daily routines.  I was lamenting about how it felt like it took so much time and effort because it involved not only the actual activities but also included a process of constantly checking in with myself and my body. It is an ongoing effort to release tension, to disrupt obsessive thoughts, to remind myself to eat, to move, to breathe.

Take my daily journaling for instance.

It sounds simple enough, sit down with my journal and pen and write. But my brain and body want to disrupt this – writing is how I do my best processing and sometimes that processing is painful. Even when writing about successes and joys there is a whole lot of self-talk I need to disrupt and overcome to get to the point of writing.

I have to intercede in my thought process, disrupt it, and redirect it so that I actually pick up the journal and pen. Then my tendency, once I am there, is to rush through it as though it is just another task I need to check off the To Do List. I start to feel hurried and rushed, so my shoulders tense and my grip tightens on my pen. I often find myself holding my breath.  

I pause, breathe, pause breathe, write, pause, release tension, write more, breathe and eventually I get into a flow and the words come.

Is it any wonder that it feels like it takes forever?

I reminded myself this morning that this is like learning any new skill. When I learned to play the drum, it took time to learn the proper way to hold the drum and to learn the rhythms to play upon it. Of course, unlike selfcare I didn’t have a bunch of bad drumming habits to overcome. I was starting fresh and so could learn the best way to do it from the beginning.

Integrating selfcare into my life includes not only learning the new habit but overcoming a whole host of non-useful coping mechanisms. Of course, it is going to feel like it takes so much longer to learn how to do it.

There are all kinds of estimates on how long it takes to gain a skill or instill a new habit ranging from three weeks to ten thousand hours. I’ve no idea how long it will take me.  I do know I am committed in a way I have not been committed before. I know that while it may not feel this way now, like any new skill it will get easier, overcoming the obstacles will get easier and take less time.

And one day soon, I am sure of this, these things will become as much a part of my life and as automatic as the old ways were.

I am looking forward to that day.

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