What If Traditional Self-Care Doesn’t Work For You?

What if traditional self-care doesn’t work for you? Beth Burgess, Author of Instant Wisdom: 10 Easy Ways To Get Smart Fast offers up alternatives to traditional self-care which doesn’t include downing a bottle of wine and blotting out the bad things..

Everyone needs self-care in their lives – that ability to make yourself feel better, soothed, and to meet your needs. Self-care is vital in order to stay emotionally and physically healthy.

However, like a shoe, one size doesn’t fit all. And in my case, most of the usual self-care shoes are far too dainty for my feet.

My old form of self-care was cutting my arms to shreds, downing my bodyweight in alcohol, jumping on my bed to Beastie Boys’ albums, and punching walls. That was what made me feel better when I was sad or angry. And while not much of it was physically healthy, I did get some solid workouts from the bed-bouncing and wall-punching sessions.

So, practising self-care by taking a candlelit bubble bath or listening to soothing music is too tame for me. In fact, never, ever attempt to play me “whale music” or I may actually weep.

I’m also somewhat of a challenge as I don’t really enjoy relaxing, which is considered an important component of self-care. You will never find me with my feet up in front of the gogglebox or playing Candy Crush.

I enjoy being busy, learning, creating, and doing meaningful things. One of my old bosses once told me to take a break. I asked him “How?”. He plonked me down in a corner with a cup of tea and told me to sit there for ten minutes. I felt mortified and started organising some paperwork on a nearby desk.

When I talked to my healthcare provider about self-care methods, she remarked “Er, you don’t really seem to do any…” We couldn’t identify a single thing I did that was ‘restful’. 

But, seeing as I am a recovering alcoholic and fruitloop, and also have a chronic illness, it has been vital to find forms of self-care that work for me. I have had to look in different places from where most of the wellness world suggests, since traditional self-care methods don’t make me feel better.

I understand the importance of taking care of myself, particularly as I have an illness, but I refuse to spend my already-limited life doing things I dislike. You all know the connection between mind and body. Quite frankly, if my doctor told me to lie down every half-hour and do nothing meaningful, I’d probably die more quickly anyway.

So, what alternative methods did I find that helped me care for myself while feeling good and not having to waste my precious life?

DE-STRESSING

Stop doing what stresses you mentally and physically

Instead of doing things that stressed me physically or mentally, and having to waste time ‘resting’ afterwards, I decided I just wouldn’t do those things at all.

Thanks to delivery services, I never have to put myself through the agony and irritation of shopping. I’ve organised my home and my computer so that everything I need is effortlessly accessible.

I hired a weekly cleaner (no, I’m neither rich nor posh), because cleaning the house is too much for me. I can’t manage vacuuming the stairs at all. I’ve fallen down them enough times, even without a hoover (thanks, balance disorder), so the investment made sense.

If I ever do have to lie down, I meditate. That kind of rest is never a waste of time.

EXERCISE

Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean killing yourself at an F45 class at 6am

Many days I am too debilitated to move, but when my illness holds off, I love a brisk walk. I probably walk too fast and knock over small children, but that’s what works or me – not injuring children, speed-walking (hey, I have a balance disorder, remember –  casualties are inevitable).

A boogie around my bedroom can also be on the cards, whether that’s to Curtis Mayfield, NWA, or The Prodigy. I still mosh to the Beastie Boys (although not on the bed, as I broke it once doing that).

I have a Hula Hoop and a Boxing Tube, so I can exercise vigorously without having to repair my walls afterwards. And if you’re reading after the watershed, I’m sure you know the healthiest most enjoyable form of exercise you can do. So do I.

MENTAL HEALTH

Cats and books. No better therapy after a bad day

Many self-care experts recommend petting animals to soothe yourself. That’s good – I have a cat. While she gets her fair share of strokes, I’m actually training her to be a goalkeeper. If I need cheering up, I’ll grab the cat’s ball and throw it her way, challenging her to keep it from passing through the bedroom doorway. She’s getting pretty good at it now. 

Diving into literary fiction throws me into a beautiful state of mind. I love using my brain and entering meaningful worlds where I can explore philosophy, psychology and sociology. If I am too tired to read something serious, I will not compromise by reading crap. Instead, I’ll listen to short stories on The New Yorker podcast, where the editor discusses a story with another author. It’s fab.

Onto the final method, which I’ve never heard recommended as a method of self-care; yet it makes me feel so wonderful that I know it’s doing me good. Writing.

Writing is central to my self-care. It’s not tiring (I do it from my bed with a screen tint on). It’s an outlet for everything I need emotionally. If I’m feeling down, I can pour my heart into a short story. If I’m feeling inspired, I can work on my self-growth books.

Writing a self-help article hits one of my most sacred values – helping others. When I share my work, it gives me the connections I’ve lacked since I’ve been too ill to socialise.

I love working with words, shaping stories, and expressing my ideas, whatever they may be. I can be thoughtful, subversive, dark, kind, playful and inventive. Writing is the ultimate nourishment for someone like me: it’s hardcore, active self-care and I love it.

Writing is a panacea for my soul – and surely caring for your soul is the best type of self-care of all.

Instant wisdom 10 easy ways to get smart fast

What If traditional self-care doesn’t work for you? Well, I suggest you explore the world of Beth Burgess. I read her book Instant Wisdom and loved her commen sense approach to to being better, with a sprinkle of sass!

Beth Burgess

Author of INSTANT WISDOM: 10 Easy Ways to Get Smart Fast
www.wiseism.com
www.bethburgess.co.uk