I feel like I’m going to constantly work on my self-care routine, which is okay by me. After all, we’re talking about my mental, physical, and spiritual health…I need to work on it. I view self-care as part of a necessary maintenance plan to keep my disease in remission. If I don’t take the right steps, my addiction starts to wake up from his fitful slumber. I don’t want to risk that. To keep him sedated and out of the driver’s seat, I go to meetings, interact with the sober blogosphere, listen to sobriety podcasts, and read recovery memoirs (though I’m taking a break from that now).
I also drink cafe lattes every and then, like right now. I should be grading papers, but that can wait. I’m listening to the wonderful Billy McLaughlin and enjoying my drink, just as I (sort of) enjoyed exercising this morning. Exercise is also important to my self-care routine, though there are some days when I drag myself to the gym.
Because I’m more attuned to my thoughts and body, I know when things are out-of-whack. I told my wife I just wanted to skip the gym and go back to sleep for another hour, and how I don’t normally feel like that in the mornings (afternoons are a different story…I could happily take a nap every afternoon for the rest of my life).
“Well, you’ve been working a lot,” she said.
And she’s right, I have. Grading students papers and teaching isn’t as physically demanding as some jobs, but it takes a mental toll, especially after reading the twentieth paper on the American dream. Whew. Along with teaching and interacting with students, grading takes up a lot of my time, but I have to schedule time during my day to sit back, breathe, and–in this case–enjoy a cafe latte and write a post.
Writing is another essential tool in my self-care kit. As the great Flannery O’Connor says:
“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
My poetry certainly helps me process what I’m think and feeling, but that’s different. It’s like I’m tuned into a different station when I write poetry (same thing with music).
Ah, music. That’s another important self-care tool. I usually have music playing all the time, but I’m more careful with what I listen to. If the music is too depressing, I find myself getting depressed. That used to not bother me one bit; in fact, I often set out to listen to depressing music because either I was already depressed or I figured I was biding time until I felt that way again. Why not have musical companions along for the dark, dreary ride?
Even though I still slip into that mode, I don’t stay long. I’m listening to a lot more classical music now, too, and find that I like it quite a lot, especially Bach.
Work is important, of course, and I love my job and my students. As anxious as they are to get their papers back, though, they’ll have to wait just a little bit longer. Self-care and my sobriety are my priorities, and the rest of my tasks will simply have to line up and wait their turn.