Working in a hoarded house is stressful. It places stress on mind and body. Apart from the confusion of clutter, there are dangers from tripping hazards, airborne impurities like dust and mould that attack your skin, airways and eyes, and infestations from mice and mites and more. Then of course there are the challenging behaviours and strong emotions associated with hoarding disorder. These all combine to make a demanding experience. If you encounter this on a regular basis, whether through your work, or because you are supporting a loved one who hoards, you will know that good self-care is vitally important.
In a recent discussion with colleagues, the topic of self-care came up. Many good strategies were shared. However, more than one person claimed their only self-care ritual involved a monthly massage or quarterly manicure.
Self-care is more than a monthly massage.
As people who are natural helpers, we need to remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Look for ways to “fill your cup” and you will be more able to help others.
Self-care is in the daily things we do that “fill our cup”. Self-care should be as much a part of our routine as eating breakfast, washing our hair, doing the dishes and taking out the garbage. It is equally as important as those things for the efficient and productive conduct of our lives.
If we don’t eat a nutritious diet, we become prone to physical illness. If we don’t nurture our mind and soul with good self-care, we become prone to both physical and mental illness.
Language is powerful. All too often, self-care is seen as an indulgence. Guilt is often associated with taking time out for oneself. How very sad that is. Start your good self-care with eliminating any language that ascribes guilt to looking after yourself. You don’t need to “give yourself permission” or even to “take time out”. Self-care can be a part of your daily schedule, just like taking out the garbage. When was the last time you heard someone say “I give myself permission to take out the garbage”?
What is Self-Care?
Self-care certainly can be a massage, a manicure, or a weekend away. But it so much more.
It’s knowing your boundaries and observing them.
It’s saying no to an unreasonable request or to an invitation to dinner when you know you need a good hot bath and an early night.
It’s knowing what your body needs, whether that’s a daily walk in the sunshine, or a regular yoga session, and making that happen.
It’s knowing what your mind needs, whether that’s a daily meditation or good long chat on the phone to a friend, and making that happen.
It’s listening to your instincts about a situation.
It’s surrounding yourself with people you can trust and limiting your exposure to those you can’t. It’s knowing the difference.
It’s allowing enough room in your life for the things that “fill you up”.
It’s ensuring you get enough sunlight into your life.
Things That “Fill Your Cup”
Sometimes when you’re not accustomed to putting self-care first, it’s hard to know where to start. Start with making a list of the things that “fill your cup”. What makes you feel valued, loved, calm, at ease? What puts a smile on your face, even after the most stressful day?
My list includes things like: time alone, a good belly laugh, listening to an audiobook in the car, time out for crafting, dancing or singing along to an old hit song.
Please do treat yourself as you would your best friend. And remember that self-care is more than a monthly massage.