One of this month’s goals is to work on self care. I explained it like this:
One of the things about living on my own and being single is that no-one ever sees me naked. This is not a huge problem but just before Christmas, I realised that I don’t do nice things for my body. I wash, I condition my hair, I remove the hairs that seem to pop up on my chin (seriously, no-one tells you about that, in your late thirties, your face decides that it would like to grow just a couple of hairs from your chin, just for the style of the thing!) but I don’t remember to epilate my legs in the winter or moisturise and my feet are beginning to look like they belong to a hobbit! So I will moisturise every day, I will remove hair weekly and I will look after my feet!
One of the reasons for setting this goal (other than it was one I thought I could do) was that my skin was a mess. I have very dry skin and over Christmas it was really itchy, which made me feel unclean. So my hope was that moisturising every day would help that. Putting self care down as a goal alongside stuff like ‘tidy the cupboard’, meant making looking after my body a task. This could have backfired and I could have just seen regular maintenance of ‘me’ as other task on what sometimes seems to be a ever-ending list of stuff that needs to be done, before I can enjoy myself.
Instead, putting self care on the task list has re-framed how I think about my body and caring for it. I look after my flat because I like it, I love how much it reflects who I am and how comfortable I feel in it. I want to show the world the flat’s ‘best face’, to see it as I do. Doing housework isn’t something I enjoy but I love how the house looks when it’s done and it necessary to ensuring that the life I live in the flat, is lived well and I find it hard to live well if the floors are sticky!
It’s been a revelation, I’ve been looking after my flat better than I’ve been looking after my body, over the last 14 days, that’s changed and I’ve been treating my body like I treat my flat, ensuring that it looks the best that it can and works well. I find myself doing other things, that I haven’t done in an age, exfoiliating, looking after my hands, stretching more often and generally caring for myself because I want to present my ‘best face’ to the world.
The result has been that I feel better about myself because I’m caring for myself. What’s been really odd, is that over the past week people have been telling me how well I look and asking what I’ve done and nothing has really changed except my attitude. Now I’ve decided that I’m worth the effort involved in looking after myself, other people have responded accordingly.
Now I’m not saying that this is all there is to self-care, no-one should think that regular use of moisturiser is a way to great self esteem. For others, it could be diet, or exercise, or getting enough sleep and it’s worth noting that all these things are important and are things that I’m working on this year too. However, one of the things that I’ve learnt through years of dealing with grief and minor depression is that sometimes attitude follows action. Sometimes you have to do the thing, even if you don’t feel the thing and the feeling will follow. Treat yourself like you matter and eventually, you will feel like you matter. It’s a lesson that I constantly have to re-learn and it came this year through the medium of moisturiser!