How often do we put an important focus to our well being? In this day and age where productivity means more than taking care of yourself, self love often falls to the wayside. Especially with one who has chronic illnesses, mental illnesses, and disabilities; taking the time out of the day to participate in self care seems frivolous. However, we often fail to realize that self care is vital in being able to continue progressing through each day. I’ve spoken about self care on this blog before, but today is very special. Nadine from ‘Home of Understanding’ has nominated me to complete 14 days of pre-planned self care. Honestly, this will be difficult for me, as most of the time I would rather spend my spoons on doing something else. That is exactly why I chose to participate in this challenge.
Update: **You may have noticed that I missed posting last Monday. This was because I had to evacuate my house due to a wildfire. We went to my grandparent’s home located a few hours down the road and spent a week waiting for the smoke to clear. I had a really hard time mentally dealing with all of the sudden events. I posted more on my Instagram and Twitter about the evacuation, but I’m not ready to go into full detail yet about everything. Please know that I am safe, nothing was damaged, and I am back home.**
Before the challenge:
I am in a massive flare today and have been in one for several weeks. This summer has been brutal on my health and has equally taken it’s toll on my mind. I’ve spent today working on my blog and am following my daily to-do list. Every day I try to get something done on my blog and always feel guilty when I am too ill to do so. While my self esteem is okay, the exacerbation of my lymphedema from the heat is making me feel a bit self conscious. I just feel trapped fighting this summer heat and it’s hard. I’m excited to see how this two week challenge changes my outlook. Maybe some of these self-care activities will stick and become a positive habit in my daily life.
I want to write a bit about how I felt about the challenge for each day. Along with providing more information on how I completed it. I will keep a journal throughout the next two weeks and will update the post when the challenge is done. I’ve also decided to allow myself the choice of choosing when I want to do a specific activity, so I don’t exhaust my spoons. Let’s get started!
I went about my day with a general intent on what item I wanted to complete, but for many of the days I ended up doing something completely different. I’ve listed the days in order of how I did them, but they vary greatly from Nadine’s original post. So if you want to follow that original schedule she set, her post is linked here.
1. Organize something at home/the office. (7/18) On Thursday, I decided to spend around 15 minutes before bed to clean up my room. I had been in a huge flare and was still in one at that point, but thought that some organization would help me feel better mentally.
2. Go to bed 15-20 minutes earlier than usual. (7/19) On Friday, I decided to change up this prompt (as you will see in much of the challenge. Instead of going to bed earlier, I slept in until 5 pm.
3. Call a loved one you haven’t talked to in a while and catch up. (7/20) On Saturday, I spent several hours talking to my close friend Elissa on Twitter. While I didn’t call her (I don’t call many people lol) I had a great time chatting. We delved into personal topics and got to know each other even better.
4. Make plans to do something fun in the next few weeks that you can look forward to. (7/21) On Sunday, I talked to my friend Danielle about getting together for coffee in the next few weeks. While no date has been set, it is now on both of our radars!
5. Have a quiet and cozy morning. (7/22) This is actually a very funny story. I wasn’t able to sleep the night before due to a huge pain flare. However, when it was that morning, I felt quite peaceful and relaxed. If I only knew that I would be evacuating because of a wildfire later that evening!
6. Spend time with family. (7/23) We ended up going to my grandparent’s house located a few hours away, but arrived late in the evening the night before. So on the next day, we all went out to eat a nice family meal.
7. Write down three things you love about yourself. (7/24) I changed this day up too. This was actually my birthday and we were unable to celebrate it due to the fire evacuation. We had no gifts, no birthday cake, nothing. However, this gave me a unique opportunity to ponder about what I am grateful for in this life. Life is not important because of physical gifts, but rather the gift of loving people who support you.
8. Write and send a snail mail note to someone you are thankful for. (7/25) I changed this one up a bit as well. Instead of writing a letter, as I was very flared at this point, I did a video chat of sorts with my good friend Jenn.
9. Shut off all screens 30 minutes earlier than usual and take time to unwind and reflect. (7/26) I coincidently forgot to continue taking my Effexor XR after it ran out. Even though I had plenty of refills with me, the stress of the fire and breaking routines made it slip from my mind. However, because of this, I was not on my phone at night and got to enjoy reading or just petting Minnie.
10. Read three blog posts about self-care and self-love. (7/27) I don’t remember which posts I read, but they helped me out a lot. I had been tagged on Twitter to read other’s self-care and medical update posts. It was good for me to focus on helping others, since I had no idea why I felt as horrible as I did.
11. Pick up a good book/something you have wanted to read for ages. (7/28) During this point in the evacuation and flare, I had been off of my medication for a few days. It was hard for me to get on social media or do anything else, so I started to read a book I brought with me called ‘Need’. I’m a good bit of the way through it and am enjoying the story.
12. Watch a movie with your comfort food. (7/29) On the day before we left to come back home, I ended up watching a silly romantic comedy with my mom and grandma. It was great to come out of my shell from the past week and enjoy something simple.
13. Get reconnected with your support system. (7/30) On the drive home, I was on Twitter the entire time. After arriving home and realizing the mess-up with my medication, I still had a lovely time connecting with all my friends that evening. There is just something about being in your own home.
14. Journal about a decision you made in the past week that you are proud of. (7/31) I am currently doing this as I write. I’m very proud of putting my care first when I was struggling mentally. As I reflect on the experience now, I’m glad to have pushed against the anxiety to let myself rest.
After the Challenge:
I find it very interesting to reflect back on the last two weeks. Most of these actions I completed were not figured out beforehand, so it allowed for more of a natural process. Plus the fire evacuation was completely unexpected! However, when reading how I felt before this challenge, I do notice a big change. I do not feel guilty in needing to take care of myself. I think being off of my anti-depressant as well as in no routine, it became vital to me to make sure I felt okay. Even if I felt like going onto social media, I stopped myself many times in order to keep my mental state calm. Isn’t that interesting?
Physically, I am not in as bad as a flare and my swelling has gone down as well. I’m glad to have gone on this crazy journey this past 2 weeks. It has taught me to have a greater sense of love and understanding for myself. Something that was needed for sure!
The purpose of these nominations are to help encourage others to participate in their own self-care. It doesn’t matter if you skip a few days or can only do one task. You can approach this challenge in whatever manner you feel like. However, there is something that is important to follow. Nominees must nominate 3 people and explain why they have chosen that person in a few sentences. On to the nominations!
*I chose these 3 individuals because they are a lot like me. They are always willing to give what they have to the point that there is nothing left. These are the people that others are drawn to. Like a hummingbird to nectar, your souls are precious. However, it is time that you give some of that ‘nectar’ to yourselves.*
Claire from ‘Chronically Beautiful’. She is going through an extremely tough time right now, but always manages to put the care of others before herself. Claire, you are amazing and I hope that this challenge will help you to not only relax, but to know that it’s okay to support yourself too. Love you!
Elissa from ‘Welcome To My Thoughts’. Elissa is always on social media, promoting other people’s blogs, articles, and the like. She puts all of her energy into supporting others and doesn’t take anything for herself. Elissa, you are so wonderful and I hope that this challenge could help you spend more time on yourself. Love you!
Amber from ‘The World Sees Normal’. Amber has been very sick lately and is struggling with life. *Hugs* Yet, she still continues to put herself and her story out there in the hopes of helping someone else not feel as alone. Amber, you have been such a light in my life and I count myself blessed to know you! It was truly pre-destined that we are both CDC ambassadors with a very similar life story. Love you!
Thank you so much for reading today’s post! I hope it provided a bit of insight into why I was absent this past week. Also, I have been added onto Feedspot’s ‘Top 100 Chronic Illness Blogs’. Isn’t that amazing? Go check it out! Please subscribe and I’ll see you next time, my Un-imaginables!