Emotional,  Healing,  Mental,  My Journey,  Physical,  Wellness

Doubling Down on Self-Care

It’s Thursday, two days after Election Day, and still so much confusion about the results. The mail-in ballot volume has been unprecedented and polling stations are not equipped to handle the massive number of votes. Am I the only person out there who can’t settle down, can’t focus? Today Thrive Global and Well & Good both had articles in their daily newsletters about how distracted people are, at least I’m not the only one.

Being deeply affected by events out in the world is a relatively new feeling for me. My personal life is so full of ups and downs, always dictated by how my children are doing. Years passed where it was difficult to engage with anything outside my four walls. Engrossed in my children’s challenges didn’t leave a lot of emotional space to worry about the big picture. Teaching myself to re-engage in the world has been a slow process, gradually accelerating as the problems in our country became too scary and concerning to ignore.

The Election exists on another level. Too much is at stake for me to stick my head in the sand and focus only on my family. The pandemic, economy, social unrest and climate change – the four pillars of Biden’s plan for our country. Each a huge topic, capable of impacting people in deep and profound ways. I find myself scrolling the news way more than I should, completely caught up in the latest headlines. Time for an intervention, I put myself on a news diet, only allowing myself to check my phone every several hours.

Knowing what makes us feel better isn’t the same as doing it, is it? Consistently, two activities help me – deal with anxiety, manage painful times, regulate my migraines, and find perspective. Exercise and connection. Yesterday, feeling unsettled from the election, in the car after picking them up from their dad’s, I asked Ridgely if she wanted to go for a hike. We’re similar that way, the peace we find in nature. An long walk at Loch Raven and conversation with my best girl restores my soul. Her insights and thoughts intrigue me. What other eleven year old begins a conversation with, “I was watching a TED Talk…”?

Today started out with a favorite weekly activity, a four mile walk with a dear friend. For years, I didn’t prioritize friendships. Why? So many reasons – the chaos in my life, horrible days where I just couldn’t face another person, the shame of suffering domestic abuse, an inability to turn outwards from my own pain and most of all the failure to protect my children from abuse, no matter how long and hard I fought for them. Deep down I didn’t feel worthy of friendship.

And if I wasn’t worthy of connection, I certainly wasn’t worthy of self-care, exercise being top of that list. I didn’t deserve to feel better, to have a break, to invest time in myself. While I am by nature an active person, for years I would drift in and out of intentional exercise. All dependent on how high my shame level was at the moment. Getting sober in 2017 was the first step forward. Forgiving myself, shedding the shame and feeling worthy. Over the past three years, I’ve learned that shame is not just a feeling, shame is also a habit. It’s taken much longer to unlearn the default to shame.

Getting back from my walk this morning, I feel the positive vibes. My body alive after a brisk walk, my mind and soul re-energized by great conversation and being seen. Daily I try to find this balance, to make the time for myself, for investing in my own wellness. Lots of days I miss the mark. There’s always tomorrow, a new day to wake up with intention and take that sliver of time for yourself.

Exercise and connection – a foundation I invest in, build, so I’m ready and able to weather the challenges that come my way.

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