Hello, friends. It’s been a while since I’ve shared what I’ve learned. There are four or five versions, maybe more, of this blog post sitting in my drafts, but those showed a side of me that only my journal ever needs to see. I’m finding that reeling myself in is even more important in these tumultuous times in our world. Not only for my peace of mind, but yours as well.
What Have I Learned?
Think before I speak. I think that this might be one of the most common phrases uttered by all parents that no child ever listens to. It took me years to recognize the why of this important lesson.
In the early days of social media, we shared willy-nilly, without thought, as there just wasn’t that many of us online. In a weird way, it felt safe sharing with total strangers. Today, everyone shares not only their innermost monologue without thinking about the consequences that their speech may have, but they share increasingly vitriolic speech that we used to only hear from internet trolls.
The power of language and its affect on others can’t be overlooked. As someone who writes for a living, I often think about what I am saying. I have always been hyper-aware about what comes out of my mouth, or via my fingertips. And I find myself being even more aware knowing I can make a profound statement, or get my point across, without being cruel.
Self-care is important. Yet, I have issues with the phrase self-care. I feel it’s used too often as a buzzword guaranteed to generate clicks with promises to sell some magical fix that will help us feel human and not so zombie-like.
I’ll be quite honest with you, there are days that I count myself lucky if I get a shower and dump some dry shampoo into my hair. We all have those days. Ascribing to an intense listicle in a magazine or on a blog that fuels my anxiety because I can’t check everything off makes me feel even worse on days when I am spiraling.
If getting out of bed is the best you can do that day, get out of bed. And if self-care is staying in that bed, with the covers pulled up to your ears and a pillow over your head, do it. Of course, if you’re my friend Amanda, self-care is getting out of bed at 4 am to go to a fitness boot camp at 5 am. I will never, ever understand that, but it works for her.
Disconnect. Spending time disconnected from my devices and the digital world is good for me. This has been a hard lesson. It took me going to Mexico for a week (more on that in a later post) to learn just how obtrusive digital media and the sound of my phone, or any phone, really is and the effect it has on my own personal mental health.
Therein lies my problem. I work in all areas of digital media — strategy, community management, SEO, advertising strategy, online reputation management, etc., I am paid to be connected.
For the time being, I am trying to make sure that I’m not living and working in a digital haze. But, it’s tough. That’s where the self-care portion comes in. My phone automatically turns on do not disturb at 9 pm and I disconnect. No phone in bed or laptop in bed (which I am definitely not any kind of role model for, but I’m trying), real books, and my journal at night. I stopped watching TV so I can further disconnect.
Move more. I’m currently obsessed with how many steps I take in a single day. I realized after my trip to Mexico when I was disconnected and spending lots of time walking in nature that I was happier than I have been in some time. For a full week, I took long walks, navigated narrow paths, climbed steep hills, and felt alive. My resting heart rate dropped by two points!
I’ve learned that I have to move more. Not just for my sanity, but for my general health and well-being. When you’ve spent the last two years going through rapid, early-onset menopause, everything changes. I thought I had caught up to all of the changes, but who am I kidding? It is going to take a long time to catch up from that hit on my body. Sagging skin, hair loss, pimples combined with wrinkles — the joy of growing older is real.^ (My friend Brian invented the sarcasm font. If you ever see me use a ^ after a sentence, I am being sarcastic.)
That is all of this week. I suspect there are many more editions of this series left in me. For the past two years, I have been on the path of personal growth and developing my own awareness in order to be a better human. Let’s see where it goes.