Self-care During Tough Days
How to Show Care for Yourself Without Doing Anything
What are the simple things that you do during tough days?
A question I was asked recently.
I found it difficult to answer because my immediate response to anything is to stay put and reflect.
What came to mind, instead, was a question that most of us have probably asked ourselves at least once: Why can’t we care for ourselves like we do for others?
When someone we care about is having a tough day, we immediately adjust and find ways how to comfort them — whether it’s keeping them company or leaving them be. But when it comes to tending to ourselves, we’re unable to access the same instinctive understanding.
What do you do for yourself during tough days? How do you adjust to hold space for YOU?
Tough days can mean differently for different people. However, I guess it’s safe to assume that the recent pandemic (among other things) is a shared reason why everyday has become difficult lately.
I haven’t been okay too. Over the months since the quarantine started, I find myself waking up and immediately feeling like I’m already done for the day. What do I do about it? Nothing. I just let myself be. I allow myself to feel whatever it is that I’m feeling — a practice that required arduous work of unlearning incorrect coping mechanisms.
Growing up, whenever I was feeling down, I was always instructed to “snap out of it” because apparently, it wasn’t the right way to behave, especially around people. I’ve been called many names. I’ve been told that I was selfish or that I was inconsiderate.
Maybe like me, you’ve internalized the same reasoning — that whenever you’re having a bad day, you need to straighten yourself out. Maybe that’s the reason why we react in haste and feel the need to do something about it. We reject the emotions elicited by a tough day because we think we’re not allowed to feel that way.
However, over the years, I’ve learned that all emotions, even those that you think are irrational or unreasonable, are valid. There’s no wrong or right emotion. They all deserve to be felt.
It’s important, therefore, to be conscious of the kind of narratives that form in your head when you’re going through an unpleasant experience. What labels do you assign yourself? What names do you call yourself?
Have you maybe associated your “okay” self with your identity and so if you’re not that version of yourself, you feel lost? Or is being “happy” and “productive” (in what every way that means to you) have become your measure of success in life; hence, being otherwise means that you’re failing? Or do you simply think that feeling bad is a moment of weakness?
One of my gurus in Yoga, Enzo Montano, always reminded his students in class that pain is just something you experience; it does not define who you are.
Tough days are the same. They’re not a reflection of your life, more so of who are you are. They’re just something we also experience. We humans are complex beings — we consist of a myriad of experiences that mold us into different versions of ourselves throughout our lives. Don’t reduce the entirety of your being to just one bad day.
I recognize that what I just said are not exactly tangible actions that you can do, but maybe starting with this kind of reflection can guide you in figuring out what to do. Perhaps, it might even make you realize that you don’t have to do anything at all.