The month of October brought with it the Mocha Diaries. It is now November and the Mocha Diaries are still going strong. I’ve written a bit about questions I have for myself and how I came to give those questions power in my life. They most definitely have influenced me, and yet, from analyzing those questions I have begun one of the most important processes of my life: practicing self-care.
I’ve heard the term ‘self-care,’ before, and I just shrugged my shoulders to it. I always felt like self-care was about dressing nice, maybe getting a facial or massage, getting your makeup done or just putting a little bit extra into your appearance to make you feel good about yourself. But, I now realize that isn’t exactly what self-care is all about.
Practicing self-care means that you are prioritizing yourself. If you prioritize yourself then when you are practicing self-care it can be whatever you deem necessary to take care of yourself. Wanna drink a bottle of wine curled up in bed watching netflix? Go for it. Wanna book a spa day for yourself? Go for it. Whatever helps make you feel more grounded in yourself, do that.
For the longest time I thought that self-care was kind of selfish. I didn’t want to put myself first before others and so for a long time I’ve let myself get run down by others, because I wanted to give my time to them instead of to myself. I’ve since learned that this is very damaging and self-care is quite necessary. I practice self-care in a few different ways and it isn’t the same for everyone, so I can’t recommend what others should do for themselves.
When I first decided to start blogging again, one, because I felt guilty for not uploading in a while and ,two, because I really felt like I needed to get back to what I love doing: writing. I’m not the most fantastic or eloquent writer, but it is how I express myself. The less I write, the less I express myself, which means I am getting bogged down with my own emotions. Enter the Mocha Diaries. The Mocha Diaries are one way for me to practice self-care, without thinking about others. For a long time I didn’t want to write about things that people may read into and think that it is about them, or that I may need to censor myself with because of how others may view me. In all honesty, I’m really too old to be giving a shit about what other people think of me.
The Mocha Diaries really help me to explore my thoughts and feelings, to share them with friends and family, and the world. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with me I don’t care. My blog is my space to write about how I feel and in that moment I am practicing self-care by exploring and giving importance to my thoughts and feelings. In one month, this self-care practice although not done daily or weekly has allowed me to gain part of myself back. It allows me to have piece of mind and to really explore how I think and how I perceive the world. It helps to center me and find my happy place.
Writing isn’t the only form of self-care I practice. Although, I’d kill for a real spa day, I don’t have the kind of money that entails to truly do that. Maybe one day I will do that back home at my favorite spa. Sometimes self-care is even simpler than pampering yourself, it’s just giving yourself space. The times have changed a lot, even in my short lifetime this is true. I do believe that there is value in time spent alone, away from the noise, away from people, just with ourselves. Before the telephone, it was a lot harder for people to find you, to call you and overwhelm you with the details of their lives. Today its 24/7 bombardment with the advent of social media. Even if I decide to be alone, I’m still reachable because of technology. Unless of course I decide to turn it off, and give someone a panic attack. So if I’m spending time alone, but am still connected how is it self-care?
I can ignore messages for a bit if I choose. I can respond to them and then let things roll off of me. If someone wants to go out, I can say no from the comfort of my home, without having to say it face to face. And I can feel certain in that moment that my time is my own. I don’t owe it to anyone else, if I want to answer a message I will. If I want to take a nap I will. If I want to go and watch TV I will. I can do anything I want and by saying yes to what I want to do, I am practicing self-care. It’s not a fancy kind of self-care. I’m not getting dressed in nice clothes, doing my makeup, hair, or nails, but I am saying ‘yes’ to me. And I think that is the most important kind of self-care.
Self-care means knowing who you are and what makes you feel whole. For a long time, I have fought with myself about who I am, or who I think I am. I really want to go exercise, but I hate the gym and don’t feel like I fit in. So for the last two weeks especially I’ve decided fuck the gym. I’m not going, sure it’s a waste of money that expires in the next week or two, but whatever. Instead when I feel like moving my body, I can. I can do whatever I want. If I want to light some candles and dance around my room by myself, I will. If I want to go to the park for a walk or a jog, I will. The funny thing is I have done that. Most nights of the week I do something for me, where I have no time constraints and just in the moment I decide, ‘Hey Nina, let’s get up and move our body.’ And that is exactly what I do. I love dancing and it is something I never actually did until I lived alone. I always felt someone would walk in on me and judge me, but now I don’t have to worry about that so I just do me. And you know what, it feels great! If I ever have the confidence to join a dance class, maybe someday I will. But for right now dancing in my room is a perfect kind of self-care dancing that makes me happy and at peace with myself.
I’m a person who requires a lot of alone time. In the past I used to think it was just because I’m a depressed person that I liked being alone and only spent time in my room. Now that I’m older I know that isn’t true. I love spending quality time with people and the amount of time I can spend with each person varies, but I do enjoy interacting with others. However, acknowledging the fact that I do need alone time is important. It’s a type of self-care practice I need to do in order to be a better daughter, sister, friend and coworker. I’m a brighter and happier person if I spend time with myself. Though this might seem contrary to others and how they feel about things, I end up in a happier spot.
Now at times people will say that its bad, because you will get lonely. And they are right. At times spending a lot of time alone can get lonely. But maybe that is just in how the mind frames it. In the past I used to think that I was very lonely, and I have been lonely. There is an absence of life in my life, especially when I step through my front door. The warmth of someone’s smile or some banter over food is definitely missed. I can truly acknowledge that and in the days I feel really lonely it is hard and I’m angry that those who are in relationships can’t know what it’s like to come home to an empty house and know it isn’t changing. No one is suddenly going to appear. There is a difference with feeling lonely in a relationship (I’ve been there) and feeling lonely and being alone. When I first came home from my vacation I was really upset that I was lonely, that I had been suffering from a lot of loneliness these last couple years. I went from being lonely in a relationship to being lonely by myself for a duration of almost 6 or 7 years. So its hard to remember when the last time I could frame my mental state normally alone was, but I’d say right now I’ve gained some clarity.
Indeed, I have my lonely days. And I have been lonely, but the most fascinating thing of all is once I decided to change that mindset my loneliness faded. It’s interesting that something I once saw as the most horrible thing, after admitting publicly that I was lonely, I was liberated from it. I realized that once I decided to start saying ‘yes’ to me, and ‘no’ to others my loneliness started to be turned from despair to self-care. I may have been lonely, but it was the way I decided to view the world that made it worse than it was. It was me saying ‘yes’ to everyone else that made loneliness so looming in my heart and mind. Right now, writing this I’m back to the me that enjoyed sitting by myself, sipping some coffee, and writing away at a coffee shop people watching.
Why should I feel sad about being alone? I’m not lonely, I have myself. And you know what I’m a pretty cool person. I’m thoughtful, inquisitive, and love learning. I have a thousand and one things I want to do with my time. So why should I say, ‘No,’ to me. If I always say, ‘Yes’ , to others then I can’t do what I want to do with my time. The only person that hurts is myself, which makes me feel down, which makes me feel lonely out of negativity. And I have no reason to feel lonely out of negativity. No, no, no. I only have the time to feel joy and serenity in the time that I have for myself.
I think self-care is the balance we need to find in life to take care of ourselves. To love ourselves a little more than we love others. It isn’t selfish, it is needed to find peace for oneself. I think we all need self-care and to know that being alone isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is the perfect time to do everything I want without having to be considerate of others. For I think I’m far too individualistic to meet someone in life that is stuck on always spending time with others. If I wanna love me and do the things I want, I hope that my other half somewhere out there in the world is similar. Two people who take the time to practice self-care are far better at understanding themselves and others than those who can’t take the time to realize sometimes in the silence and serenity of being alone we find a sliver of happiness.