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Friday, September 16, 2016

Self-care or Self-couldn't care less?

Just a few of the tomatoes...
As a therapist, I've learned to become a big fan of self-care. Most of us think of it as a luxury--and it certainly can be. But as these Ted Talks tell us, self-care is anything but a luxury. Self-care is vital to sustaining our lives.

There's a lot written about self-care, from what it is (hint: it's taking time for yourself to recharge, grow, experience, and relax) to what it isn't (another hint: getting high, drunk, and sexed to the detriment of other important life-y things). But what happens when your self-care becomes a chore? What are the signs that you couldn't care less about experiencing your next "self-care"?
I thought I was being fancy with green and
purple beans this year!

I just recently had an experience with this. People who know me could tell you how much I like to vegetable garden. It has been a passion of mine for the last six-plus years, ever since I got heat-exhaustion from renting a tiller and started digging up my backyard. I find great fulfillment in the idea of yard-to-table; I freeze and can beans, tomatoes, squash, raspberries, peppers, strawberries, carrots, leeks, and okra. Usually, a batch of newly stewed tomatoes poured into a freezer bag and carefully placed in the freezer causes me to have a little twinge of pride that I contribute materially and literally to the feeding of my family and friends (chili night, anyone?).

This year feels different, though. This year, the garden has been--and I hate to even write this--a bother. It's been a pain. It's been the thing that I'm like, "Oh, crap. I'm gonna get bitten up by mosquitoes to pick some more blankety-blank raspberries tonight after work." 
And did I mention ANTS?

My self-care of spending quiet time in the garden, carefully looking for ripened fruits and vegetables, sparingly spraying for fungus, and quickly sweeping beetles into bowls of soapy water somehow changed into a chore. 

Here's how I knew -- and how you might assess any of your self-care routines that don't seem to be creating the same kind of "I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!!" feeling for you as they used to.

1) I put off doing it. I used to be out in the garden twice a day or more looking for buds and sprouts. Right now, I roll my eyes every time I see yet another acorn squash. (Seriously. I didn't even plant the buggers this year -- a stray seed from last year re-booted an avalanche of the things.)

2) I complained about it. "I haven't picked beans in two days. Now there are going to be SO MANY. Waaaah!"

3) I didn't have the rush. More than once this summer, I've thought, "My family doesn't even really care if they have garden tomatoes in their chili, do they?" Previously, I didn't care if they cared, because I cared. Right now I don't care so much.

4) It became a schedule item. "Let's see...if I can get home in time, I can garden. Or maybe I can squeeze it in before work tomorrow. Or, maybe there will be time this weekend, between 2-3 pm Saturday. Wait...Sunday."

If you have something that once was your go-to self-care experience and you're just not feeling it anymore, you're not alone. But, before you get completely burned out on it, it might be time to re-evaluate and take a break. Whatever-it-is has meant a lot to you in the past, so it might mean a lot to you again...if you don't break up with it completely because you didn't break up with it temporarily soon enough.

Self-care that has become Self-couldn't care less is worse than doing no self-care at all. Why? Because it's taking time away from you finding something else to replace it. It's probably starting to cause resentment. It may even be pissing you off. It's okay to take a break.

After all, taking a break from it may actually be the best self-care you can do right now.
Anyone want a squash??? Please?

#gardening #selfcare #therapy

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