We are all magical creatures, but unfortunately we don’t have Hagrid to care for us and know just what we need to keep us healthy and happy. I certainly could have used him recently, though.
Last month was my first trip to New York Comic Con, and it took much longer to bounce back than I anticipated. It was a grueling weekend with YogaQuest appearing each day to teach yoga and putting in an additional appearance for a discussion panel on geek wellness. I absolutely love what I do and sharing this message with the masses. But when you are giving of your time like that—even though I was trying to be mindful to eat and rest and drink water—you still tend to pour more out of your “energy cup” than you’re filling up. With every interaction I was pouring a bit more out of the cup, so even with my valiant efforts to drink water and eat and put my legs up the wall at the end of the day, that wasn’t filling it back up enough. So I was still running on absolute empty by the end of day four. I’m also aware that as an introvert, these experiences are incredibly emotionally taxing for me, and the longer and more empty my cup is, the longer and more effort it takes to fill it back up.
This was a great reminder to myself that we all need self-care, and sometimes we need to amp up that self-care even more than usual, like when we’re at a convention, or when winter is coming. (Yeah, I know, I crossed fandoms, but this message is for everybody.) In my own life and with my psychotherapy clients, I assess how self-care is going by asking about sleeping, eating, moving your body, and things that fill you up—that metaphorical cup I was talking about.
Sleeping refers to whether you are able to fall asleep, stay asleep, and feel rested when you wake up. Eating refers to whether you are able to identify when you feel physical hunger, whether you feed yourself at that time, and whether you are able to identify that you’re satiated. (For more information on mindful eating see this previous post.) Moving your body refers to how often and in what ways you get up and move around—hopefully doing something you enjoy!
And things that fill you up refers to doing things that are just for you: things that are restorative and life affirming. Depending on your time and means, this might be getting a massage or taking a yoga class. Perhaps it’s taking a bath or watching your favorite movie for the millionth time. The point is that you are doing something just for yourself and not for anyone else—and you give yourself the space and time to do it, even when the rest of the world is seemingly in chaos. If you don’t have that time, then even just taking just an extra moment to breathe in your car before going into work is self-care.
And so, magical creatures, we need to figure out how to best care for ourselves since a half giant isn’t there to just know that it’s time to toss us ferrets . . . also we’re not Hippogriffs, we’re different magical creatures altogether. Each one of us is unique and requires slightly different care. If you haven’t done so before, ask yourself these questions:
- How am I sleeping?
- How am I eating?
- How often and in what ways am I moving my body?
- How often and in what ways am I “filling up my cup”?
Try to keep free of judgment as you think about the answers. Now ask yourself whether you feel satisfied with your current level of self-care or if one area or another seems like it could be beefed up. There is no good or bad, no right or wrong, only what’s there. But a deficit in any of these areas can cause significant changes in moods, so you might find there’s a correlation somewhere to how you’ve been feeling.
As the weather turns colder and the sky grows darker, be ever more mindful of what you need in order to care for yourself. It’s the only way to survive the long dark of Moria, a.k.a. Minnesota winter. (Yes, I switched fandoms again—like I said, this message is for everybody.) While it’s very tempting to hibernate the winter away, and there’s seriously nothing wrong with some hermit time, make sure that you are getting what you need: drinking plenty of water, eating food that leaves you feeling energized and joyful, spending time doing those things that fill you up, getting restful sleep, and moving your body. Be the best caretaker of your self that you can be; be your own Hagrid. Your body and mind will thank you.