Welcome to Part 2 of my weekend of self-care experience. If you haven’t read Part 1, I recommend you start there and come back.
I stopped listening to my phone.
I went two days without checking email or social media and nothing bad happened. (Gasp!) Yes, I wanted to check in and see what my friends were up to over the weekend because, let’s face it, my friends are interesting people. But I decided that I could wait. Nothing was so urgent that it couldn’t wait the weekend. That’s not to say I went the whole weekend without talking to people, I just didn’t use social media to do it. I texted my friends when I thought of something that I wanted to tell them, I texted my parents when I saw something cool that I wanted to share with them, but I didn’t do this through social media. I was surprised when I felt relief at not checking social media a few times an hour. (Please note: This is coming from somebody who loves social media. I’m on it more than I would like to admit for personal and professional reasons.) I was able to get away from social media for the weekend and clear my mind and enjoy what I was doing without thinking about putting pictures on Instagram. Yes I took a lot of photos with my phone but I felt no immediate need to post right away and see how many likes I could get.
I also tried not to look at my phone unless the light was flashing. It rarely flashed because the only notifications I allowed were for texts and calls. I kept my phone in my purse or my pocket most of the time so I wouldn’t even see it if it was flashing. I kept the volume on mute so I wouldn’t hear it. I had to resist the urge to check it in case I got a really important message within the last 15 minutes.
Lesson: Not checking my phone constantly was hard at first, then got easier. It was worth it and I’d absolutely go social media-free again.
I listened to my body.
On my second day I walked from my hotel to the far-west end of the Astoria Riverwalk. I hadn’t planned to walk that far. I planned to walk until I got a little tired, and then turn around and go back. I kept walking, and when I was tired I would find some place to sit and rest. According to my FitBit, I walked 25,961 steps, or 11.18 miles.
At night, when I was tired, I went to sleep. I didn’t check my phone one last time for email or a Facebook message. I just went to sleep. When I woke up early because my body was ready to be awake but not that awake, I would read my book. In other words, my body told me what to do and I listened. I’d like to think that I was able to hear what my body wanted because I wasn’t mucking it up with static from my near-obsessive need to check email and other phone notifications.
I also didn’t stress about what I ate. My first night I wanted to have two beers and a giant slice of carrot cake so I did. (#adulting) Was that the healthiest thing to eat? Probably not. But I don’t eat like that everyday.
Lesson: We’ve got to give ourselves a break sometimes. “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” as they say. That night the small stuff was two porters and a giant piece of carrot cake. It’s all relative.
I got kind of lonely.
But I also reveled in feeling alone. I felt independent and strong. And I wasn’t really alone alone. I was surrounded by people most of the time. At the start of the weekend I was committed to not using my phone for communication at all. But I kept thinking about things that I wanted to send to friends, so I decided to give myself permission to do that. I read something about the self-care double bind once. Basically, it’s when you don’t do self-care and then you feel guilty for not doing self-care, which is quite the opposite of doing self-care. So, with that in mind, I let go of my commitment to not communicate using my phone, and I texted my friends. I didn’t feel guilty for doing it because I decided it was okay. I let myself off the hook.
Lesson: While I enjoyed being on my own for the weekend I was also super happy to be home. Seeing my husband and cats was awesome. It made me glad to have had my solo trip so that I could come back and enjoy being surrounded by those I love, refreshed and open and ready for the week ahead.
So, what did I learn?
I do what I want! No, for real; I did what I wanted and didn’t think about what other people wanted from me. It felt a little selfish at first, but isn’t that kind of what self-care is all about? Making sure that your so-called cup is full before giving some of yourself to other people? If your cup is empty then you have nothing to offer others. In the end, I learned that I need to listen to my big old brain and my big old heart to figure out what works for me. And then, the tricky part: To do what works for me.
What do you think? What’s the hardest or easiest part of self-care for you?