(As the title suggests, this post follows on from an earlier post – specifically What Self-Care Means To Me)
I still exist! Sorry that posts haven’t been as regular as I’d like. I’d hoped that I would just get straight back into it after finals, but since then I’ve had two new part-time summer jobs (long story), degree results, one of the worst meltdowns I’ve had in years (the same long story), the annual zombie apocalypse (…okay, so it was a heatwave), graduation, a close relative ending up in surgery (they’re very much on the mend now) and everything slowly falling into place for moving to a brand new university next month. It’s been… eventful, and it’s safe to say I haven’t always dealt with things incredibly well.
I realised a few weeks ago that I’d fallen into a trap: I got into certain good self-care habits when I was in a worse place a while back, things improved, I got complacent and didn’t really maintain those habits, so when bad things happened it all kind of fell apart. This means I’ve been consciously trying to think about what has worked for me and why, so in an attempt to get back into regular blogging (er, no promises…) I thought I’d write a sequel to this post and share some more of what self-care means to me, a year and half later, now that I’ve properly remembered it’s a thing again:
Goal-Fish. This site (which you can read about in more detail here) allows you to enter in various constraints (including pain/energy/spoons, time, money, sensory overload…) and receive random tasks from a customisable list, one at a time, on a minimal sensory-friendly (and mobile-friendly) interface. As someone who struggles with executive functioning when presented with giant blocks of time and relative freedom on how to spend it, this has kind of revolutionised my non-term time. I’ve started using it again recently and it told me to blog and now I’m actually here! As well as getting stuff done, this can also be a good source of distraction when that’s helpful (yep, the other reason I’m blogging is because there are still some rogue zombies around…)
Literally endless notes to myself. I used to use Evernote for this purpose until they changed their pricing options earlier this summer; I then switched to Google Keep, which I’m still getting used to. If physical paper notes are more your thing, that’s cool too! As well as to-do lists, which keep me from accidentally dropping the ball somewhere, I have a “positive things” list (as suggested by the uni counselling service I saw last year) in which I record small victories and other general things that reminded me I’m not actually as awful a person as my brain likes to tell me. I also like using it to just write down thoughts and feelings in my own time without the pressure of being listened to (which sometimes forms the basis of talking to friends about it) and little pep talks to myself that I can go back to when relevant.
Spotting my automatic thinking traps. Another big takeaway from counselling, and another big use for Keep – writing down my thoughts, actively checking for unhelpful thinking styles (catastrophising, assuming what other people might think of me or what awful consequences might happen, discounting the positives – there are various other example lists online) and writing out more balanced thoughts which challenge those traps. Sometimes I can do it in my head, but even then it’s usually in hindsight!
Special interests. I said this last time, but might as well say it again. File under “distraction” and “stimming”.
Stimming. Well, that happens anyway, but I mean more “remembering to pro-actively self-regulate before it’s too late”. What exactly that entails can vary from situation to situation and from person to person. In my case, it tends to involve earphones.
Remembering that there are good days and bad days. Just because I could do something one day, it doesn’t mean I should beat myself up over not being able to do it another day. Conversely, just because I’m having a hard time one day, it doesn’t mean it will be that way forever.