The Making of a Self Care Manifesto Part 2
A Self Care Manifesto doesn’t just happen. As I discussed in Part 1, I had to be pretty darn downtrodden before I decided to take a long hard look at my daily routines and think about changing them. If there’s a silver lining of this stupid chronic migraine relapse, it’s a renewed interest in seizing better control of my overall wellbeing.
Before I launch into goals, tactics, and rationale like the overzealous planner I am, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge that I am absolutely, positively, aware that I do not have ultimate control over my body. I believe I can influence my health, clearly, or I wouldn’t be writing this manifesto. But if migraine has taught me anything, it’s that life happens, and our bodies and mental health can operate in nonsensical, detrimental ways at the drop of a hat while laughing maniacally in the face of our best efforts. So while I do have high hopes for the coming months, I also know that these goals will likely be completely out of reach for large swaths of time. Thus, I shall hereby set for the number one rule of this manifesto:
- Throw the Self Care Manifesto out the window as needed. It will be waiting for you in the garden when you’re ready and able to try again. Modify as needed.
- Set aside AT LEAST an hour each day to do good things for your body. Depending on pain and fatigue levels, this time could be used for gentle stretching, meditation, strengthening yoga, a walk, jog, or fully-fledged sweaty run.
- Tend to your body, whenever possible, before launching into work tasks. When your mind gets busy and your body hasn’t been looked after in a while, slouching, shallow breathing, and tension ensue. Set yourself up for work in a way that you can be mindful of your body.
- If, after several hours of work you do not have a migraine, take an additional hour to do good things for your body. Then, you might even be able to do some more work!
- Tend to your body, whenever possible, before tending to the needs of those around you. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and must put your oxygen mask on before assisting others, etc., etc. Do not tend to your body because of migraine, but rather, because bodies need tending to, and you deserve to feel as well as possible.
- Take breaks. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing… vacuuming, writing, painting, doing endless computer work, walking, hanging with a friend, watching cat bloopers online, or shopping for new underwear: take breaks. Escape to a private spot. Close your eyes. Take five deep breaths. Notice your body. Open your eyes. Notice your surroundings. Take five more deep breaths. Do it now.
- Record all of these good things in your migraine journal. (Y = gentle yoga, Y+ = strengthening yoga, E = exercise, E+ = aerobic exercise, m = mediation, !!! = no migraine.) Who wants a journal full of boring things like migraine triggers, attacks, and medication? It should be just as full of pats on the back for doing your best.
- Push yourself, just a bit, to stretch and exercise even more, even when you think an activity could be edging into trigger territory. If it could also lead to long-term gains, give it a go. You can always do less next time if it was too much.
- Try new things, sure, but also trust your instincts and employ strategies that feel good. You know your body, budget, and time constraints best. Laugh purposefully at peddlers and fools who would dare to use the word “cure.”
- Remind yourself regularly that no time spent doing self care is wasted. It is a long-term investment with stocks that will fluctuate day to day, but that will most likely pay off years down the road.
What would be the top three rules of your self care manifesto?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?