I have been thinking a lot about self-care and whether you ever ‘waste’ energy. I think it is so easy to be almost clinical about looking after yourself and do the needed and logical pragmatic tasks in hand as to not ‘waste’ energy. Being neglectful of ourselves in times of fast-paced periods in our lives happens without us even realising. Even if you like me are unable to work, sometimes yourself isn’t your main priority. How often do we have the energy to indulge in looking after ourselves that isn’t taking medication or using heat pads or earplugs to block out the world?
Now, like anyone who’s been really ill sometimes the bare necessities are all you can do energy wise. Each tiny task is too big an ask, so please don’t think I’m saying throw caution to the wind. Stuff it, and enter a jiving competition. I just am aware myself that I am ‘good’ at doing the day in day out tasks or asking for help with staying alive.
My parents do an awful lot to keep me alive still, bless them. So it can feel far too self-indulgent to do something whimsical because I want to spend the day’s energy on it. They would never make me feel bad for wanting to paint my nails instead of picking my clothes off the chair or floor (depending on my health) but self-care can be pushed to one side when there feels like there is no time for it. What it does mean is that I am not prioritizing the type of self-care that makes me feel good about myself or centres me and helps me control the anxiousness I feel about my M.E/CFS.
My thinking is that energy is never wasted. You may in the future regret the expenditure for the reasons that made sense at the time. But it is your energy; you can create the priorities in your life. The balance is delicate but you can do the almost unthinkable. If you want to get to the end of that book you’ve been hooked on and stay up until 4 am then if that makes you happy do so. You might want to apply some practicalities to this way of thinking. I want to go to Disney World/Land but I know the crowds, the jostling from the rides, the noise and the unquenching need to explore everything wouldn’t be the idealistic fantastic experience I want it to be. The energy wouldn’t be well spent and I wouldn’t have been wise to try right now.
Self-care and almost humanizing yourself is so vital for feeling like you are retaining yourself. I have the image of being a little like a parking meter sometimes, I have people feeding me and counting the hours until that time was up. Or I’m an app pet who needs to be looked after in so many ways. I’m not trying to complain, but it can feel like you are too busy trying to stay safe, warm, fed and alive. Life is exhausting and you spend time being tired so everything requires effort. Being ‘indulgent’ can feel alien but it’s important to still feel good about you. If that means buying clothes or wearing a bright lipstick with pyjamas then life is too short to conform to the daily life that seems ‘normal’.
I thought I’d include a list of my ideas that might be possible for you.
-Meditation and relaxation techniques help me feel grounded and more at peace.
-Lose yourself in a hobby. Be that an instrument, a game, a craft, or a book.
-Do things that make you feel good; I find sheet masks easy to use and clear up. Bribe people to bake for you or try to find your own unique activity that makes you feel more like yourself.
-Take the time to do an activity with friends or family that you can do from the sofa or bed. Watch films listen to audiobooks or have your nails painted. It doesn’t have to be complicated or out of the home. Adapt it to your capabilities and circumstances.
-Try a new activity get a Pinterest account or research new artists in music or read a different genre.
I know that taking care yourself not just in a way to keep you alive is hard. These suggestions are rarely things I do regularly more of a once every few months because that is what works for me. It can keep me feeling like me, I try to wear makeup for special occasions because for that brief window of time I look like Me rather Me with M.E. Your energy is your own and so are your priorities. When someone might comment that you are ‘wasting’ your energy try to remember they only have a small window into your life and how complex the ecosystems that are a delicate balance. Feel good about yourself and try to look after you and your condition.