About a month ago I got shingles. It started with a tingly feeling on my side and soon erupted with an angry, red stripe across my torso. It was clear that my body was not happy. With some research, I determined that stress was the cause of the shingles to pop out and rear its ugly little head. Whoa. Big moment of truth. My body was literally telling me that the way I was living my life was not going to fly.
The way I lived my days was a good indication of why my body was giving me a harsh symptom to deal with. The state of our country and being connected so consistently to social media and new outlets was making my chest literally constrict. The feeling of needing to go, go, go straight out of bed, when the sun was not even a thought in the sky yet, and push to get out the door in a timely and punctual matter. Saying yes to things I didn’t really want to commit to. Being there for others more than myself. Putting exercise and time outside in nature on the back shelf. Saying that I wanted to meditate and write and not doing it. The compounding effects resulted in a literal pain in my side. Eruption. Blistering. Red. Angry. A loud message to wake up.
Acupuncture was a godsend and helped the pain immediately. Making time in the morning to sit quietly and telling my family that I needed to start my day this way. Recognizing that our new stressful puppy is actually a gift because our daily walks outside in the fresh air has done wonders to my state of mind. Taking a step back from the news and focusing more on my family and art. Remembering my friends. Joining a yoga studio. Going to sleep at 9pm most nights. Saying no and not feeling guilty if I don’t participate in all school events. Not worrying as much about getting out the door and to school right on time.
And of course, life improves. Relationships grow in more healthy directions. My body feels healthier, my mind, my heart. Why is it so hard to remember that when we take care of ourselves we are better able to be there for others? Why is self-care something that is able to slip through the cracks so easily?
How do you self-care?