Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mid-Winter Self Care 101

We're just about to the dead middle of winter (calendar-wise), although I'm not sure if current weather patterns would qualify this season as winter. Last week was chill-to-the-bone cold and Friday saw enough snow to cancel many people's evening activities, but today (Sunday) temperatures are supposed to reach the 40s. If I changed my hair color every time the temperature varied by 30, actually that's a fairly accurate comparison.

I'm also personally at the dead middle of my 12-day work week, having picked up two extra weekend shifts in Mercy. I'm predicting some regret as I get into next week, but if someone's going to make the extra dinero might as well be me, right?

A person doesn't survive winter or crazy work schedules without a heaping dose of self-care, and luckily I have plenty of experience there. Let me break it down for you:

Fine Dining & Libations
Easily the easiest of self-care options. Eat some (comfort) food, drink some (alcoholic) beverages and before you know it, you'll be feeling better. I'm clearly not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I'm sure they would tell you moderation is key. My only advice is Know Thyself. Personally, I can put away far more food than I can drink before experiencing adverse effects, so that's usually what I lean on in times of stress. They don't call me a Blue Ribbon Eater for nothing. (Dear Fairly Quick Metabolism, Please never ever leave me. Love, Rachel)

Physical Activity/Exercise/That Thing Other People Do
It's no secret that I am not a sporty or even physical person. I can barely walk around my apartment without adding to the many mystery bruises on my legs (Seriously, do elves move our furniture when we sleep?), so any activity requiring coordination and balance is out. For a lightning speed minute this fall I was able to run without too much pain (unemployment makes you do CRAZY things), but only if I kept them to three miles at a nearly 10-minute mile pace once or twice a week. Any longer/faster/more frequent and my rib cartilage starts complaining.

The activity I can/will/want to do is yoga, preferably in a heated (95 degree) room. You see, I like stretching. And if the required stretch is a bit much, no one will judge you for adjusting it to your level. (Okay, the super yoga heads might judge you, but they're judging everyone who is not them and ergo not really getting the point of yoga in the first place, now are they?) And the heat? I have no idea why I like that. I've been known to throw temper tantrums just because I'm a little warm, stomping around and throwing off my clothes like a menopausal toddler. For some reason it's different in a yoga studio--I don't know if it really does "cleanse toxins" or if it allows me to stretch a bit further or if it's just a feeling of accomplishment because I actually sweat, but hot yoga works.

Self-Reflection or My Natural State
The biggest sell for yoga is how naturally self-reflection goes with the physical movements. If you know me at all, and I mean this in the loosest way possible, like even the guy I sat across from on the train would get this, you know I am an internal processing monster. I don't always say a lot, especially in large groups, but let me tell you the constant monologue in my head can be engaging enough. I have two journals, this blog, plus all the reflective thoughts running through my mind at any given moment. I know I sometimes wear a blank stare/hover at the point of drooling on myself, but that usually means I'm super deep in a very abstract thought. After a stressful day or if I'm feeling a little crabby (or if I'm told that I am in fact a LOT crabby), journaling, pondering, & spacing out in general all help.

Books, Movies, Music, Interesting Tweets, Organizing my Sock Drawer
Pretty much anything that will take my mind off the fact that I work in five hours...damn I really do. Let me finish this quick so I can maybe get three hours of sleep: anything that makes me laugh or cry or is so engrossing I forget about everything else around me and commit fully to the present moment. I'm pretty big on work/home boundaries, aka I love leaving work at work and completely cutting off work thoughts until I'm there again. Sometimes this is difficult, and an escape helps. It can be a book or movie that takes me to another place/time/world or a song that begs to be played loudly so I literally have no room in my head for thoughts. It's tuning out, but also tuning in to something else for a bit. Ideally this escape is intentional, but every now and then trashy TV is just what the self-care guru ordered.

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