First and Foremost

Midterms ended two weeks ago, but the semester hasn’t slowed down. As I mentioned in this post from last week, I usually find myself torn between academic and co-cirricular obligations and let the other stuff (e.g. sleeping, eating, personal hygiene) fall to the wayside. Everything culminated last Wednesday when I explained to my therapist that I hadn’t had time to grocery shop and she urged me, “Go get yourself some milk and a vegetable.” My homework assignment for the week: Perform one act of self-care daily.

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Anticipating this post, I photo documented my Kroger experience.

Taking my therapist’s advice, I zoomed to Kroger directly after our appointment and felt overwhelmed by the produce section…it had been days since I’d seen a fresh vegetable. I snatched up every fruit and vegetable I could imagine eating and grabbed a half gallon of milk. I took advantage of the opportunity to pick up a loaf of bread and some chicken because I was feeling ambitious.

The self-care assignment proved challenging throughout the rest of the week, but I managed to squeeze at least one such activity into each day. On Thursday, I took some time away from homework to draw. Most of the work I do on a daily basis is for other people. I decided to make a drawing just for myself, free from all judgment, including my own. Friday was toenail trimming day (gross? yep. honest? you bet. needed? desperately). My brother came to town that day and stayed into the next. Though having him around wasn’t necessarily an act of self care, we both had a great time doing Carly-Joseph things. Plus, I witnessed his first ever college party experience, which was pretty rad. We went for a long hike on Saturday, followed by a good lunch, and a much-needed nap. Nature is good for the soul. So are brothers.

On Sunday, I took care of my laundry and cooked brunch. Cooking is one of my favorite stress-relievers and it’s kind of essential to life, so brunch was a win-win. Although I had some school related things to knock off my to-do list, I spent the day looking forward to watching the Cubs v Indians game at my friends’ house. Spending a few care-free hours with some cool people (and their even cooler cat) provided the morale boost I needed to start the week. Monday was rough, but I managed to workout for 20 minutes at the rec, so that’s something, right? I also tried to eat well, but failed miserably midday when I turned to mac & cheese and convenience foods for sustenance.

Today, I rounded out the challenge by choosing to skip class so I could sleep. Yes, it seems like a typical lazy college student thing to do, but I rarely skip class and getting enough sleep happens even more scarcely. I was up late, studying and knew I’d do better on my afternoon exam if I slept through my 8:30am class. I woke up feeling much less like death than I normally do and had time to eat breakfast, study, get ready, and bike to campus without scrambling to catch my breath in between. Biking was, in and of itself, an act of self-care as I combined physical exercise with an enjoyable commute.

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Finding time to take care of myself each day was difficult, but far from impossible. I realized that self-care is not selfish. Rather, it’s what we need to do to sustain our well-being and get the most out of life. I’d want others in my life to take care of themselves and there’s a good chance they would want the same for me. While it’s important to care about others and stay on top of personal obligations, self-care is essential for either of those things to occur in the first place. Sometimes, ourselves come first and foremost and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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