This may be an unpopular opinion, but massage is not what I need when I am overwhelmed. My stress levels were so high that even if I had the time or money for the spa, I would not be able to relax. Everything that had to be done would still be waiting for me after the admission. Spending money on spa services is simply an impractical idea for people on a budget, with childcare disabilities, and high stress levels.
My new theory is that real self-care involves setting routines and boundaries, simplifying life, and having a strong support system. When stressed, our needs are often our last priority or not on the list at all. We can be the breadwinner of the family, the keeper of the hearth, or the keeper of peace among relatives. In such cases, we turn into Sisyphus, rolling the notorious boulder uphill, except that we change the boulder to an endless list of tasks.
Personal care is nuanced
When someone admits they are drowning and torn in many directions, it is best not to say anything about how they should take care of themselves. For someone already desperate to take care of everything, this is just adding one more thing that they fail at. As for me, when I tried to explain to my friend why I was exhausted, she offered the well-meaning just go for a massage.
Apart from the fact that my budget couldn’t handle it, I was an overworked, overworked mom. The last thing I wanted was to pay someone to touch me more. What I really needed was some practical help, like keeping my little one entertained so that I could go to the bathroom alone. I needed advice on difficult work situations or what the hell we should eat for dinner. Countless little things were overwhelming. My immediate need was not to take care of myself, but to take care of the community.
After my basic needs were met, I needed to change my life towards sustainability. She made three main changes:
- Created a daily routine.
- Joined my community.
- Set boundaries based on values.
First, I made community building a priority. Even if you never ask for help, knowing that you can relieves stress. I deliberately planned activities related to my core values and discarded anything unrelated to them. If you are like me, it is difficult to say no. I still feel guilty, but I feel better. Times when I said yes, when I didn’t want to displease and overwhelmed my schedule.
I used to let the chaos of life encroach on my mindfulness and spiritual practices. Being able to say no meant it was easier for me to maintain the above practices. By setting healthy boundaries, I can really enjoy a massage if I ever get one.