Self Care + Self Protection – Setting Intentions

The scope of concepts, subject matter and self help techniques already covered on this blog is quite large; so for the next two similar concepts, I’ll be exploring them simultaneously.

Self care and self protection bring the practicalities of parenting to mind – meeting a child’s fundamental needs. In my resource for self-esteem growth, it describes self care as caring for “our minds and our bodies in a nurturing and nourishing way…dressing ourselves, feeding ourselves, exercising our minds and practically taking care of ourselves in the way a good and loving parent would the child they adore.” Its depiction of self protection echoes similar sentiments: “…looking after our bodies and our emotions…guarding ourselves from disease and physical danger as well as from damaging relationships and experiences.”

I read a book a year or two ago called “20 Fragments Of A Ravenous Youth” by Xiaolu Guo. Set in China, it follows the life of a girl named Fenfang who is desperately seeking youthfulness, vitality and life experience. In her search for this, she endures domestic abuse, poverty, stagnation, loneliness and depression. She is a playwright and does her best to continue to create through this adversity and towards the end of the book, a longtime friend stresses some important advice: “Fenfang, you must take care of your life.” This simple yet striking line has stuck with me ever since, so much so that I plan to get it tattooed on me in Chinese at some point. I think the reason it touched me is because it highlights the importance of taking care of the practical aspects of your life: what you eat, how much you sleep, how much you work – the level of oblivion you will allow yourself to sink into before you decide enough is enough and that you are worthy of more. These are things that the traditional depiction of self love doesn’t really go into much depth about – the actual framework of your life, not just how you feel about yourself.

I’m experiencing some difficulty with the structure of my life at the moment. I’m studying full-time and I’m working every day I’m not at college because my student funding has been delayed. I have nowhere near enough time to stay up to date with my coursework and revision. And I’m scared. My past two attempts at higher education failed due to the onset of depression and now it’s financial issues that are acting as an obstacle to me studying to the best of my ability. I feel trapped. If I work less, I’ll have to apply for a discretionary fund that I might not get. And if I keep working so much, I’ll get stressed which will likely flare up my chronic illness that I suffer from. How can I take care of my life like this? I do know that if worst comes to worst there are a couple of people I could borrow money from, although it would pain me to do it. I know I need to tell my manager that I need to reduce my hours. I’m one of at least three people at my work that do 4 or 5 shifts a week whilst studying full time. My manager actually said to me as he introduced me to one of my colleagues: “Here’s (name), she’s great because she does 4 or 5 shifts a week and she’s at university!” I’m slowly being sucked into the martyrdom that is so common in the hospitality sector. Overwork yourself as if it is normal, eat the unhealthy food provided at your place of work, take up smoking so you can take regular breaks, get drunk after your shift to forget about it – repeat. It’s seen as problematic to judge people in this way but this behaviour is so commonplace within this sector, I think it’s important to flag it up. It’s not healthy and it’s not good for you and it shouldn’t be normal. I don’t want it to be my normalcy. So that’s my first intention I’m setting for this week, to be transparent with my manager about my needs.

Secondly, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I need to meditate more. Lately my mind has been perpetually steeped in mental chatter and because of this I can’t exercise my mind properly or look after my emotions. My heart tells me I need to be meditating 20 minutes a day – the most I’ve ever done. I know that the busier you are, the more you should meditate. When I was walking home from work yesterday and my brain felt fit to burst, I thought to myself: “I need to do a long, 20+ minute meditation. I need to meditate for so long that I squirm.” And I did that last night. I was waiting on a phone call from someone that never came (for a legitimate reason) and I just wanted to stop caring. I wanted to breathe and stop stressing and obsessing. So I did a 27-minute calm-abiding meditation. And I did squirm. Between nearly falling asleep and having my mind wander off 10+ times, it definitely wasn’t “easy”. But I felt better afterwards. Meditation isn’t necessarily about “feeling better”, it’s about being more present in day to day life – but sometimes you do get a nice bit of euphoria afterwards. I also hope that meditation can help with the regular heart palpitations I’ve been having recently. In the buddhify app I use for mediation, there are two sections named “Just Meditation I” and “Just Meditation II”. These contain longer and more simplistic mediations that I think I will centre my practice around this week.

Hopefully this time next week I’ll be feeling calmer and working less. College is something I absolutely have to prioritise because when I complete the course successfully, I’ll be paving the way for a professional career that I’ll actually enjoy. And in the meantime, I can continue to work on my music without being tied to a stressful, unfulfilling job. And that’s taking care of your life.

Next week’s post will be my thoughts on this week of self care and self protection. Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

– SMUT. ❤ xxxx

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