I feel like a weeble
June 24, 2017 12:34 PM   Subscribe

I have been undergoing a series of stressful times one after the other, and I need to figure out what kind of extreme self-care I can do to keep my recurring depression/anxiety at bay.

Over the past 18 months, I have gone through a number of really stressful transitions (moving cities/ losing a parent/ new job etc). It sort of feels like I've been 'firefighting' since December 2015, even though apart from the loss of my parent, the other transitions haven't been negative. They have, however, come with a lot of stress. Right now I feel utterly tapped out by everything. I feel like a weeble, constantly about to topple over.

I've been feeling the beginnings of my old enemies depression and anxiety - e.g. I randomly read something on MeFi about [insert random medical condition here] and spent HOURS researching it and convincing myself that I had it - and I feel like I really, really need to start some radical self-care if I'm going to start to feel balanced again.

My elderly relatives, who are visiting at the moment, are leaving next weekend (another transition) and I know that when they leave I'll miss them and feel lonely, even though hosting them has been extremely challenging. It does mean I'll have more time to myself, though. Cue: time for Extreme Self Care!

I try to exercise, hang out on Metafilter (which I truly love) and read escapist literature. That's about the only self-care I am able to consistently implement. I feel like "a nice massage" and other one-off things might be nice but will not have a lasting effect. What extreme forms of self-care can I start to implement to get myself back to feeling like myself?
posted by Ziggy500 to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I should have mentioned, I've tried meditation multiple times and I really dislike it.
posted by Ziggy500 at 12:46 PM on June 24, 2017

Weightlifting. I've been fighting some severe fires, and it is my refuge.
posted by jgirl at 12:50 PM on June 24, 2017 [7 favorites]

I asked this previously and felt like there were some good answers there.

For me, the most restorative was to take a day where I got to prioritize my whims. Donuts for breakfast, walking around window shopping, lunch at the bar, etc. I avoided social media and news. I tried my best to be in the moment. I'm mostly extroverted and love my friends, but I also always want to care for them, and turning that same nurturing sense back upon myself was really nice.
posted by advicepig at 12:56 PM on June 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here's what I've been doing. Those 18 suggestions were my answer to a different self-care question, but I would recommend any of them to you as well. I have been fighting fires, including some of the same ones you have, for about as long. It's hard!
posted by limeonaire at 1:19 PM on June 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

My recommendations are a regular yoga practice and an appealing new hobby.
posted by vunder at 2:48 PM on June 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Daily long walks with the dog someplace pretty. At least an hour a day, Hug breaks every mile or so. Borrow a dog if you need to. I have one you can borrow :)
posted by fshgrl at 2:59 PM on June 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Weeble's an awesome analogy.

Sometimes I think about the old saying 'let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food' and find that useful -- I know that some of the comfort foods that I like are filled with refined sugar and white flour and it spikes my blood sugar and it just makes me....weird. Not right, mentally.

I'm not saying 'never make macaroni and cheese or a frozen pizza because you're feeling blue'--I think that's exactly what is required sometimes, it's just that sometimes I take that and run with that into days of grilled cheese on white bread and Cheez Its and it plays havoc with my brain.

Everybody's different with that stuff, so it's helpful to know internally what your brain does and doesn't respond kindly to, food-wise. I can eat an indefinite amount of fat, but a sandwich on a white roll with potato chips spikes anxiety. My husband can handle like, zero fat, but he can sleep happily on a mountain of simple carbohydrates. I'd be using my nails to scratch my way up a wall.

In short: food and knowing how it plays with your brain. What gives you true comfort, or temporary solace (which is no small thing) and what helps fuel you for the Marathon.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:37 PM on June 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

Maybe some kind of mini-meditation that helps you feel more 'centered' would help you feel less wobbly? And sometimes sipping a big glass of water slowly or having a special cup of tea counts as self-care. Better if you combine it with pictures of puppies or sitting outside on a bench feeling a breeze. (Our heatwave finally broke, so I am appreciating breezes more now.)

Everything that ever helped me with stress involved breath, like exercise and yoga and meditation, but also singing. If you commute in a car or on foot or bike, you might try adding seven minutes of song to your day and singing along with it.
posted by puddledork at 3:51 PM on June 24, 2017

Just a couple of potshots:
  1. I'll contend that a Weeble is actually always on the verge of righting itself. Remember, they wobble but they don't fall down!
  2. I also kind of dislike meditation and it's very easy for me to excuse myself from spending that 5 minutes sitting on the floor. Got damn if it doesn't work, though, and it took me a while to realize that what I was doing is "practicing not following those endless thinking trails." I'm pretty sure just these 5 minute spurts have had numerous subtle benefits in tweaking my value system to make "OH MY GOD RANDOM NEW TOPIC SEEMS COOL [3 hours later] I wish I had some clean socks." not such an appealing way to spend my time, especially since those topics are rarely about people having an awesome carefree time.
  3. You've been at your new job for a year and a half or whatever, take a vacation already! Even if your finances or whatever mean you can only do a staycation and read many escapist tomes without having to worry about visitors or death or any of the other numerous elements of chaos that may have interfered with your me-time since the end of '15. Sounds like you should take a week now, and maybe a week in another month or two, because the way you describe your situation it sounds like you're thinking in "one thing in an afternoon" self-care items, perhaps because the chaos is causing you to not have any time for yourself (or feel like you don't) and so you think you can only take little desperate bites. Take some time to "ain't gotta do sheeyat."

posted by rhizome at 4:45 PM on June 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

The trick is to make really great food, keep your fridge stocked with ripe, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Get living butter lettuce and make a big salad once a day. Today it was lettuce, tomato, blueberries, garbanzo beans, cold grilled pork, feta cheese, dressed with olive oil, basil, and chopped garlic cloves microwaved for 20 seconds, balsamic vinegar, with a little powdered mustard, and mayo to bind the dressing for even coverage. I often use fresh lime, instead of vinegar, use chicken, add avocado, or raw corn. I have a fresh coffee each morning, with something good, whatever that turns out to be. I make a home for my self, (if not a refugee camp.) You home has to be your place where you care for you. Make it special, and make sure you comfort yourself in whole, healthy, loving ways.
posted by Oyéah at 6:03 PM on June 24, 2017 [7 favorites]

What gives you true comfort, or temporary solace (which is no small thing) and what helps fuel you for the Marathon.

I think this is a good way of thinking about self-care in general. There are things I do just to get through the moment (internet, tv, junk food -- distractions in general) that are not probably the best things to perpetuate to keep me stable and healthy and happy over time, but that I might need to get though a particular rough patch. So I make sure to try to also include things that I may not feel like doing right then that I know will help me pull it together long-term (shopping for healthy food, doing laundry, cleaning the house), things that I know will make me feel better even if I don't feel like starting them (hiking, being outside), and things I think are going to suck but I know I need to do (generally, allowing myself to actually feel my feelings).
posted by lazuli at 8:06 PM on June 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh hi I was you and in my case about 60% of the events were negative and things went on like that for EIGHT FUCKING YEARS. I did survive, though, and I'm grateful that I learned as much about myself as I did (although wish it hadn't come at the expense of the shit).

....I'm not entirely sure what I did or how I did it in terms of self-care in terms of hanging in there at the time. But one thing I did, which I think must have helped, was that I got almost defiant about finding joy. Like, if I got to a point where I was down to only 40 bucks and I was still two days away from payday, I would take 20 bucks and spend it all on flowers from the corner deli. Or I would get the makings of some really exotic dessert and make it. Or I would go to a late movie and get the BIG popcorn. You know? Something splurgey, not TOO splurgey to the point that it would break me, but big and impractical as a kind of fuck-you to the fates that "fuck you, I still deserve to be joyful and have pleasure and fun." I even adopted a sort of motto for those moments - instead of "Carpe Diem", I went with "Carpe Gaudium", which Google translate told me was how you say "sieze the joy".

I would now and then find something that can give you a feeling of not just joy, but abundance, pick some amount of money you can afford, and spend the money on that abundantly joyful thing. You can go back to stiff-upper-lip and sackcloth tomorrow, but you also deserve to have joy, and if life is keeping it from you, then it's time to do a little carpe gaudium and say "fuck you, life, I'mma just take it then and you can't stop me."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 PM on June 24, 2017 [9 favorites]

I have been through some significant losses over the past 2 years, with some family and work stressors thrown in. Of course, exercise, eating well, and mindfully taking care of my body has been super helpful. In addition, I have been thinking about the losses and stressors as withdrawals (emotional, physical, and spiritual depletions). To counteract that, I have created a list of deposits to lift my spirits and give me things to look forward to. Though it can be seen as a on-off thing that doesn't have a lasting effect, I would disagree. It is a mindful approach to balancing the pain and suffering with joy and self-care. It's forcing myself to engage in things that I might not normally do, but that make my life much more enjoyable. They are specific to my interests and needs, but here is a list of examples:
Shakespeare in the Park
Movie night
Afternoon at the bookstore
Drive-in movie
Baseball game
Road trip
Paddle boarding

As you can see, they aren't necessarily profound, rather being aware that I need to do things for me. They fill a need, distract, engage me in the outdoors (important to me), and bring me pleasure. I have a ton more on my list and when I feel the need, I just do it.

I have also picked up knitting again and have made 2 sweaters, which I call my grief sweaters. The repetitive, stay-in-the-moment action of knitting has been healing for me. I don't know if there is something repetitive that would be enjoyable for you, but
posted by LinneaJC at 9:12 AM on June 26, 2017

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