Self-Care is Not an Option

I started writing today’s blog post yesterday. That is definitely not my typical modus operandi for approaching blog topics here. Usually, I write about whatever pops into my head at this particular moment in time. However, this time I wanted to tackle a different perspective – what is going in my daily life during this “shelter-in-place”, quasi-lock-down that we all seem to be put into. So, yesterday, I wrote the following teaser over on Facebook

What are you doing for self-care these days? Life certainly changed for the different when just going to work or to the grocery store becomes a super stressful ordeal. Where just being in the vicinity of someone else can set you on edge. What are you doing for self-care? Are you getting enough down-time? Enough sleep? Do you have enough stuff to keep your mind occupied and away from your stress for a few hours each day? Yeah, I’m far more interested in how people are coping with these times than spending my time wringing my hands over politics or conspiracy theories…besides, if I am going to wring my hands, I may as well wash them with hot water and soap, eh? –T /|\

The essential idea behind this is to take a look at what can be done and approached during this time of avoiding contact with one another. Its a potentially depressing situation, that’s for sure – especially for those people who crave human contact on a daily basis. Probably the best way to showcase all of this, is to talk about my own approach…

Where I am currently at, I do not have streaming capability. Let’s face it, rural internet connectivity sucks for shit. I can do some streaming from my iPhone for things like Pandora music, but video streaming is patchy at the very best. So most of my communication takes place in asynchronous-style communications with iMessage, FB Messneger, Facebook itself, and a handful of other asynchronous platforms. So what do I manage to do with my time in between the conversations? Well, lots of things….

For a while, I spent some time binge-watching a few shows that I had missed. I managed to catch up on two TV shows I watch regularly – Iron Resurrection, and Texas Metal, both automotive restoration and repair shows that originate here in Texas. Now that I am caught up there, BBC America is kind enough to play my favorite Star Trek series on Mondays and Tuesdays, that being Deep Space Nine. So I am exploring that world again (and loving it). Aside from that, thanks to Shadow, I am getting into the anime Hero Academia, and starting to watch all the short Youtube videos of Angry Cops. Eventually, I will jump back into watching some movies – like the BladeRunner movies back-to-back.

I can’t stay glued to a television screen all the time though. So, I do have a lot of books in my to-read pile. Currenlty, I am finishing “A Practical Guide to Pagan Priesthood” by rev. Lora O’Brien. Directly behind that, I have some history books lined up, along with some fictional stories for escapism. I usually spend about an hour or more reading each day (a lot more than I had been doing in the past).

When I am not reading or watching TV – I am either writing material or goofing around on my guitar. Sometimes, I am just listening to music (though I usually am all the time when I am not watching TV or videos). I am developing a new-found love for Peter Frampton and April Wine though all of this. I even have time set aside for learning. I have three days set to the side for my Druidry studies, as well as time set aside for learning the Python programming language. I like to stay busy….

Beyond that, is the more important aspect of sleep. I have worked toward getting up every day at the same time and going to sleep around the same time – just to maintain my internal clock. For me, I have found that if I didn’t do this, the world becomes a vastly disoriented space for me.

All of that brings up a more important question – besides all the stuff you are doing to occupy your time, are you doing what is necessary to keep yourself somewhat healthy? I still handle my normal workout routine, and have found myself cooking food more often than visiting fast-food joints. Granted, my cooking is not something I would subject prisoners-of-war to, I can eat my own “creations” without much issue. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating as you should? Are you drinking enough water?

My public mask that Shadow made for me which helps protect me and my lousy immune system from COVID-19.

Let’s face it folks, self-care is important. And if you are someone that other people are relying on – aside from all the “must-have” workers out there – you gotta take care of yourself before you can do for other people. Sometimes that means the world goes on hold until you have had your morning coffee and cinnamon bun. You gotta do for you….that also means unwinding and relaxing as well.

As an example, I’ll tell you about a part of my old military life – working in a command-and-control bunker. We would have military readiness exercises, which were to test a lot of capabilities of various units to work together in war-time and stressful scenarios. For us in the bunker, it was about coordinating communications, and working in our respective work-places with the bunker completely sealed. Normally, the time frame in the bunker could last anywhere from seventy-two hours to nearly one-hundred-and-eighty hours. That’s right, we would be locked up in the bunker for long periods of time. We learned a lot about the ability of the human body to deal with this kind of stress. When we knew lock-down was in place, we immediately went into twelve-on-six-off shifts. This usually kept at a minimum, two people on shift at any given time. We converted the area behind the cryptography equipment into a sleeping shelter, where we could unroll our sleeping bags and rest. You didn’t always get sleep, but you did get a chance to be away from all the equipment where work was taking place. If you were resting, no one bothered you unless it was a MAJOR emergency. Otherwise, those on shift dealt with the issues without you.

See, the reasoning behind this up and down schedule was two-fold. First, everyone needs time to decompress from the work environment. Just a place where they can relax and let go of all the tension that they are carrying. Second, it creates a “schedule” for your body to maintain. Once you get into the rhythm of that schedule, your body will adjust its energy – allowing you to work with as much pressure as possible in the time frame typically allotted for such things. Your body then recognizes that there is a period of time for decompression, and adjusts accordingly. or at least that was how the Air Force psychologists explained it to us Non-Commissioned Officers.

So, what are you doing? Are you freaking out because you aren’t learning anything new? Or that you don’t seem to be doing anything productive because you just can’t? Stop putting yourself on the Guilt-Train. That particular line has no stops on it. Stay off that. You are going to do what you CAN do. Stop worrying if its “enough” in my eyes or the eyes of someone else. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Times are stressful. Everything is inside-out on so many levels. Do what you CAN.

So what are you doing? Maybe you can alter that slightly and ask yourself – What is that you WANT to be doing? What is in the way? Are you feeling down? Do you need distractions? Do you need to escape to another reality? What are you doing to insure you keep some kind of schedule that life stays somewhat “normal” – whatever the fuck that is in this day and age. You know you better than anyone else. Take things one at a time. Remember, you’re not running a race or trying to piece together a puzzle with a time limit. One step at a time. One obstacle at a time. And don’t forget to reward yourself for each victory, no matter how small….and don’t get discouraged by defeats. Those are just learning moments….don’t get down when you hit those. And take your down time, its really important. Lastly, remember, you can do this. I have faith in you. I really do.

–T /|\

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