Meaghan Thomas

I Declare Self Care! Recognizing the Need & Just Doing It

For decades, my c-PTSD prevented me from giving myself a break. It told me to keep going, keep pushing through the stress, the pain, the memories, the fear, the anxiety. It told me to dissociate – float away and pretend I don’t feel anything – so I could get through the day. Then, when everything built up and I’d inevitably hit a breaking point, my c-PTSD told me I was weak for needing a break.

Letting c-PTSD run the show was great for my career (work, work, work!), but for my mental health and relationships?…not so good.

When I was ready to learn more about my c-PTSD and work on not letting it rule my life, I focused heavily on “doing the work”, like going to therapy, talking to doctors, reading books and articles, and talking about my trauma until I was blue in the face. I was going to “ace” this c-PTSD thing. And there I went, “fixing myself” at a million miles an hour. Except that didn’t work well. I’d collapse into anxiety-driven exhaustion at the end of the day, angry at myself for not “being healed yet”.

Anyone who’s worked on personal development knows it’s serious Work, with a capital “W”. And with any kind of work, we need to make sure we’re giving ourselves enough space to recover before we hit the pavement again. But I wasn’t doing that. I was just “go, go, going”. My intense attitude toward “fixing myself” was actually activating my PTSD more than ever. Not what I was shooting for!

I started realizing I needed to give myself mental and emotional breaks as I did my trauma work. This really hit home when I started writing my memoir. I was spending 5-10 hours a day writing vividly about my trauma. I’d come home to my boyfriend so drained I could barely talk in full sentences. Writing this book has been a huge healing process, but it’s also been gut-wrenching (regurgitating up painful memories – gee, who thought that might suck?). This writing experience helped me finally learn that:

  1. Self care is a critical part of the trauma healing process, and
  2. I’m not so good at it!

So, I started practicing self care more often. There were two parts of it for me: 1) recognizing when I needed to practice self care, and 2) actually doing it.

Part One: Signs When Self Care is Needed

When I noticed these things are happening, I know it’s time to focus on self care (I’m not an expert here yet, but everyday I’m getting better):

There are more examples I could write here, but the above are my “big tells”. Are there any “tells” you get that I didn’t mention? Feel free to post in the comments. It might help someone else who reads this.

Part Two: Stopping Myself & Actually Practicing Self Care

Once I’m aware it’s time for a self-care tune up, I need to actually practice it. Sometimes my self-care activities can take as little as a minute or two, other times it can involve me taking a few hours or a whole day off. Here are some self-care go-tos that have worked for me…

There are many other things you can do for self care, these are just my go-tos. What are some of your favorite self-care activities?

 

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