Self-care vs. self-numbing

Today, I had been totally unfocused, and got absolutely nothing done. It had been what felt like an eon since my last yoga class, my place is a mess, and I was spinning my wheels trying to ‘work’. Mostly, I was oscillating between multitasking with a game on my computer and watching tv; playing a game on my phone and watching tv; and putting together a puzzle…and watching tv. So much multitasking. I’ve become a fidgety person, something that never happened before the smartphone. It is now very difficult for me to just sit here and not do something while the tv is running. I do have one childhood memory that foreshadows my penchant for multitasking. I remember getting a ride to a summer program with a friend and the mom said she was amazed I could read and listen to music at the same time; apparently it bothered her to do so. So perhaps I’ve had the capacity all along. Or, more likely, perhaps the genesis of the smart phone and my ongoing choice to embrace it has drained all the focus out of my head. I digress…

I went to yoga tonight. Finally. I didn’t even want to go. I was so restless. So untethered. Feeling gross mentally. I know I’ve written several times now about yoga, but the more I go, the more I learn. It has been this weird journey for me personally to discover yoga as something I genuinely enjoy — dare I say need. As far as being a Mind Shepherd lately, my shepherd had gone on a long vacation and my sheep were everywhere. Seventy-five minutes of vinyasa later and it was like I had come back to myself again. Grounded. Clear. My dishes are still not done, and there’s clutter everywhere, but I feel more myself than I have lately. (And yes, Mom, I also recognize that cleaning my place up and have an uncluttered space will help.) 

It was at the end of yoga tonight, as I was hilariously attempting to do a headstand, that I realized how very different self care is from self numbing. We often say that we need to take care of ourselves, which for me often means I need to hole up for a while and do nothing but sit on my couch and watch TGIT. That is totally fine and valid. I don’t know about you, but I need to know what Jake is up to on Scandal. After a day like today, I felt numb before I left for yoga. Brain numb. At one point, I felt like a prisoner in my own fuzzy head, unable but really really wanting to focus. After which, I promptly checked to see if I had gotten all my lives back on Two Dots. 

The distinction between self care and self numbing is important. Self care is about loving yourself. Being in tune and aware of your body and mind and spirit and making decisions based on those sensations. Self care is eating strawberries because you love them. Self care is eating a piece of chocolate because you love chocolate. Self care is going to bed early because you feel yourself getting tired. Going to yoga because you know you’ll feel better after. Self numbing is like taking an aspirin for feeling anything. Blocking any of those sensations so you basically don’t feel much of anything. It’s instant gratification through the constant checking of things like social media, games, and entertainment. It’s feeling like you can’t escape the gravitational pull of playing one last game, or checking your Facebook one more time. (Basically addiction.) It’s like when I was young, I would go to the fridge and just look inside because I was bored. Except now, the internet exists and there is no limit to the distractions. My entire day can be a detour instead of taking pit stops along the journey of productivity. There’s self indulgence and then there’s self numbing. Self indulgence can even be part of self care, in moderation. Self numbing makes me think of rotting fruit, except the fruit is your brain. Or your focus. Or your day. 

Today taught me that the tried and true of self care might seem basic, but they’re critical.  I may need to edit what’s on my phone. I know I need to make a home-based yoga practice something I do, especially when my schedule doesn’t allow for me to go to classes. I know I need to clean things up. I know I need to go to bed earlier and stop looking at electronics well in advance of bedtime. I know I need to read more and moth less (moth = being in front of a lit screen). Self care is an intentional practice, and in a lot of ways, I’m just starting.