Self-Care or Self-Sabotage?

I use to be the queen of the twenty-four hour break (or breakdown, if I am being honest). If something bad, stressful or painful happened to me, I allowed myself twenty-four hours to wallow. Twenty-four hours to eat too much, drink too much, sit in front of the television, like a zombie, ignore my to-do list, and ignore every notification on my phone because I was having a bad day and I deserved it.

I went from having a bad day, every few months or so, to every month, to every week and then to numerous times a week. I was falling behind in my life goals and did not know what to do. My twenty-four hour ‘break’ was no longer working for me.

The one day break was no longer long enough for me and rebuilding myself back up, to the productive, positive person I normally am, took way longer than usual. The much needed break was not the refuelling station I believed it to be, but rather a purgatory-like state, where nothing improved for the better and I just ignored my life, allowing it to worsen.

I realized that I had to change this one day ‘break’ habit, which I had built up over almost a decade, and it was really hard to do.

I have read a lot of articles on self-care and what I realized was that my idea of self-care was self-sabotage, to its fullest.

It worked well for awhile, or so I thought, until it stopped working and I actually started regressing.

I have to be really strict with myself now; I have to be my own parent.

I work a lot and most of my day is dedicated to work, writing and school work. This makes Jack a very dull boy to say the least, but I am productive. I get a lot done, so for the longest time, the long list of my accomplishments was my excuse for my ‘break’ days; I deserved them and damn anyone who tried to question or challenge me.

I do so much normally, do I not deserve a day to just be a hot mess?

Now, when I have a bad day, I do not isolate myself from the world, only to see the delivery man for my food order, but lean into the fear. I lean into whatever the problem is and deal with it head on.

I meditate every morning. I throw money into the problem and have downloaded the Headspace App because I find it so calming and invigorating, at the same time.

It is a hard journey, but I feel better. I feel healthier and more productive each and every day. I no longer look forward to my glass (or let’s be honest, glasses) of wine to cope with the stress of the day. I now listen to a podcast and go for a long walk instead.

My gratitude list is something which saves me, each and every morning. Before I start thinking, about how much I have left to accomplish in life, I can applaud myself on what I have already achieved.

I have also realized that the things which provide me the most happiness are super simple: quiet time with my partner, a really good cup of coffee, a great book, baking the perfect cake and journaling.

I am busy; being a full-time working professional and going to graduate school part-time leaves little time for household duties, but I cannot be ordering my dinner anymore. If I am busy, then maybe an egg sandwich is all I will muster to make for dinner, but I definitely feel much better after eating that, than a medium deluxe pizza.

There are no longer unpredictable wild Wednesday’s where I throw everything out and just let myself do whatever impulsive wants I desire at the time. I force myself to exercise everyday. I force myself to meditate and keep my mind grounded.

I force myself to not lean into short term wants, which ruin and hinder my progress for long term gains.

Is eating something really unhealthy, which makes you lethargic and drinking something, which makes you disconnected to reality, what makes me truly happy? Do I want to escape my life? If I do, that means there is something wrong. Do I want to escape my mind? Yes, that for sure, I know is true, but I am starting to realize that escaping solves nothing.

I now choose better options because the takeout, wine and television are just not cutting it.

I think mundane is the wrong word; my life has become more purposeful and positive. I am learning that online shopping, drinking and eating badly do not make me happy, but they are societal constructs are used to help us cope with the difficulties of everyday life.

I no longer want to learn to simply ‘cope’ with my life’s problems, I want to conquer them, so that they do not show up every time I am tired, down or stressed.

Not really, not yet, it is too early in the game and the lustre of my routine of escaping my life is still there, but I am going to work through it…one day at a time.

I write about issues that are near and dear to my heart, with the hope that my stories, experiences, and struggles may empower others: amanlitt.ca

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