How was your day?
I ask my husband, my kids, my friends and extended family this question all the time. It is a good conversation starter. But, how often do I turn that question around for introspection?
How was my day?
Asking myself to identify my feelings is a way to check in with my body, my mind, my spirit.
OK, body, how are you doing? Feet — you seem swollen. Yes, it is very hot this week. Legs — you seem firm and grounded, like two thick trunks. But this isn’t going to turn into a negative body image self-conversation.
My heart feels good. My eyes feel tired. My mind is at rest. OK, not totally at rest. I have been way overthinking work today. Not just work, but life. I am way overthinking my life.
At lunch I asked my husband about starting our next step in forming our family — future children, further adoptions. Part of this has been stirred on by our kids talking about their want of a forever baby sibling.
“Why do we always have to be overextending ourselves?”
It was a very fair question. Why can’t I just enjoy where we are now?
Well, first of all, I don’t like where we are right now. Foster care is hard. Really, really hard. It is like we have put our hand on the stove and we are slowly getting more and more burned. I want to pull that hand out but we can’t — we love our foster son too much. We will agree to be burnt while he is involved in our life.
Second, if we don’t push forward I am afraid we will get stuck and nothing will ever change. I love the idea of enjoying where we are now, but adoption is such a long process. Don’t we want to bring a younger sibling into our house before Shannon and Mick graduate from high school?
Slow down, that won’t be for another six years.
Body, you are fine. Mind, slow down and relax for a few minutes! Spirit, how are you?
Well, that is a depressing response! Really, Spirit, are you sure you are broken?
OK, maybe just burnt by that stove/ foster care analogy.
Team Ryan, what are we going to do about this? What self-care tools are in that box full of dust, under the bed?
This week, I asked for help from my husband. I told my partner that I needed something from him — some sign of his affection (When was the last time he bought me flowers?)
Today, I took a second to walk a lap around the newspaper building. I picked flowers (I don’t need a man to bring flowers into my life!). When I sat back down he informed me he had just booked me a massage for next week. NICE!
When the kids were acting particularly anti-Wow (me), I took a second to reflect. It isn’t all about me. Yes, they are lashing out at me but deeper emotions — some transferred from other people were filling their little bodies. It is always healthier to provide them a safe release than encourage bottling those emotions.
But it still sucks. I’m still tired.
What self-care can I do for the remainder of this week?
Take a nap. Delegate household responsibilities. Pray — the church is always a cool, relaxing environment. Enjoy time with my children and 3 a.m. cuddles with the baby.
A few months ago I was on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website and printed out a flyer titled “Taking Care of Yourself.” It has self-care strategies and explains three aspects of self-care: awareness, balance and connection.
Through this writing I have focused inward to determine my feelings. I have reviewed and planned ways to find balance in all areas of my life. Finally, I need to make connections within supportive relationships.
I have the first two balls in the air. Now, I need to get that third ball up there- connection. I admit this is the area where I struggle but if I can just get that third ball moving, and keep all three up, I know my body, mind and spirit will benefit.
Your turn! How are you doing?