The Friday Question: How it works
Every Friday we will pose a question for you all to discuss or privately consider. You can engage with it publicly here on the RFAS blog, or you can join our forum (details below) for a more private discussion. You can write it down to think about later, journal about it, or bring it in to a therapy session with you.
If you would like to volunteer to become a moderator and host future Questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org—or join our forum and post in the moderator volunteer thread. If you just have an idea for a future Question that you want to share, we have a brainstorming topic on our forum, or you can always comment here.
Something to Ponder Today
I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care this week, because this is a time of year that typically requires a bit of extra effort in that department for me and many others around me, and I know that’s not uncommon. I’m particularly inspired by Miri’s recent thoughts on self-care. The whole post is really good so I highly recommend reading it all, but I especially want to highlight this quote for discussion today:
I used to get so frustrated with the idea of self-care because all the examples I saw online were like…take a bath! Watch a crappy TV show! Spend all day in your pajamas eating ice cream out of the carton! These are all perfectly valid things to do, but these types of activities make me feel worse rather than better. Taking a bath is nice, I guess, but it’s hard to keep my mind engaged on anything when most of the things that I could engage it on cannot be safely taken into a bathtub. Watching crappy TV and spending all day doing nothing makes me feel like a useless waste of space, so I try to avoid it. (Again, it doesn’t mean you’re a useless waste of space if you enjoy those things. It means I don’t like them.)
So for a while I was all like “what is self-care even” because all the examples I saw failed to resonate with me and seemed more like self-neglect than self-care. As it turns out, for me, self-care usually involves doing the sorts of things that other people need to avoid for self-care: reading articles online, spending time in big groups of people, writing (for public consumption, not in my journal), being with my family, listening to someone else’s problems. Self-care for me looks nothing like sitting around on the couch looking like crap and eating crap.
This resonates a lot for me, as I’ve encountered similar barriers with the concept of self-care. So I’d like to work on expanding the way that we think of self-care. I’d love to see a lot more nuanced, deeper consideration of what self-care might look like, for different people, different situations, and different purposes. If a broader conception of self-care became more mainstream, I think it would do a lot of good for everyone, not just those of us dealing with mental illness.
My question for the week then, is this:
What are some forms of self-care for you that people don’t typically suggest/encourage or think of as self-care?
- Are there things that you do to take care of yourself that you’ve had a hard time recognizing as a form of self-care? Have any of your needs gone unmet because of this?
- Are there things that others often suggest as self-care that just don’t work for you? What are they, and do you know why it is they don’t work for you? If you can articulate that, it may help with explaining to those people why they should stop suggesting that to you, or possibly help you figure out what it is that you need instead.
- Is it helpful for you to, as Miri put it, “distinguish between the self-care we do to replenish and sustain ourselves, and the self-care we do to prevent ourselves from falling to pieces completely”—in other words, to think about self-care very differently depending on what you need in the moment? What kinds of self-care work better when you need to replenish/sustain, and which work better when your goal is to just keep yourself together?
- What are the limits of self-care? What are the things that you may be lacking that self-care just can’t replace? Are there times when others have proposed self-care as a solution to systemic, institutional problems? How do you feel about that, and how did or would you respond to people treating self-care that way?
- Do you find that others seem to consider some forms of self-care more “acceptable” than others? Are there any ways that you engage in self-care that others tend to disparage or just never consider how they could be helpful?
- Are there any other kinds of barriers or mismatches for you between the way that others talk about self-care, and your experiences and needs? Has this sort of thing ever led to difficulties with friends, family, or others who support you in any way?
You don’t have to answer every (or any!) question, of course. These are just different ways to approach the topic which might be helpful to consider. You can share as much or as little as you like.
On the Forum
- You can discuss this question privately after registering at the forum
- Here are instructions for how to join the forum
- Here’s the invite request form
- You can also still discuss previous questions as well. There is no time limit for joining the discussion.
- Please abide by our rules in both comments and forum posts.
Please note that we are still working things out in the forum, especially technical issues. We are gradually letting people in now who are not moderators or volunteers, but it can basically be considered “in beta” for now. So if you do join, please excuse our forum being a bit of a mess while we get everything tested. There may also be a little bit of a wait time for sending out invites.
Here are a couple of things you should know about posting to the forum:
- All posts are private, and can only be viewed by members
- It is against forum rules to discuss any personal stories shared on the forum with anyone who is not a member without permission of the person who shared it
- You can post as anonymous, once you are a member
The Spoiler Tag
You can hide especially triggering details behind a spoiler tag—which also works in blog comments. Here’s an example:
[spoiler title=’Triggering stuff’ collapse_link=’true’]Explicit/triggering material would go here.[/spoiler]
To make one, just type…
[ spoiler ] ... [ /spoiler ]
…without the spaces. I hope that this helps everyone safely navigate this conversation.