self-care

Food and Sleep, Even When It's Gross - "Well, I haven't died yet." - Me, to my coworkers, upon eating unfinished food

Here's a dirty little secret about me working in a restaurant. When someone doesn't finish their food, if there's a lot of it left or they don't seem especially sick or disgusting, I take it into the back kitchen and finish it myself.

For a while recently, I didn't get to do that as much. I either had shifts where people just finished their own food, or there was a child at the table who had put their mouth on everything, or service was too busy and I didn't have the time to stop and eat the remainder of that croque madame. I found myself hating everyone by the end of each shift, and I just kept thinking that I had too many obnoxious, entitled tables in a row, or that my ability to continue in the service industry was just being worn out.

And then last week I was closing the restaurant, and it was almost the end of the night, and the chef let us have what remained of our tuna tartare special because we were about to close the kitchen and it's not like he could've saved it for another service. And upon eating it, my mood just shot right up. I was so happy by the end of the night. I had never thought I'm the kind of person to get hangry before, but there it was, proof positive that food will always make me feel better.

I know I've written about self-care on this blog before, but sometimes it's not treating yourself to something expensive or taking a day to do at-home spa treatments. Sometimes it's just the most obvious things that we forget, like making sure we're eating enough, and getting enough sleep.

Multiple times over the past couple of weeks, I've slept past my alarm. And it's not the worst thing in the world because I do so much of my actor/producer work from home, and I never slept in so much that I was late for a shift at the day job. But because of that, I kept forgoing the one day a week I just turn off my alarm and sleep as late as I need to. And for the past couple of weeks, I've spent every day in a fog of fatigue.

Last night, I decided that if I kept sleeping through my alarm and still continued to wake up tired, maybe there was an issue, and I should just let myself get the sleep I need. So I turned off my alarm for today.

I slept ten and a half hours. And woke up at 1pm. That's not a sustainable sleep schedule. But oh my god, I feel so good and rested right now. I feel eager for the day ahead of me, not exhausted at the thought that I can't come back to bed for a whole day.

And I think the general moral of these experiences here is that self-care isn't about doing something nice for yourself. It's about doing something necessary for yourself. And sometimes that does mean an extra dessert, or buying something that's purely pretty. But that's just an add-on to making sure you're taking care of your basic needs as a human.

I have to admit, I feel a little embarrassed that I forgot that.

Self-Care and Current Events

I was already going to write a post about self-care this week. And then Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were lynched, and I know that, while it hurts me to hear about it, I can't even begin to imagine how it feels for my friends of color. I don't want to recycle the same words we've used so many times about what we can do to change things. We know what needs to change. Right now, I just want to make sure we're all taking care of ourselves.

Now, I can't tell you what self-care is, precisely. It's different for everybody. For some people, it's diving in, educating yourself, and doing the work. I know that when I have things going on in my personal life, I always lose myself in the work, and making progress in at least one area of my life makes me feel better about all of the others. For some people, it's unplugging, distressing, and binge-watching something on Netflix/reading a book, be it good or terrible/taking a bath/disconnecting from the world. For some, it's just about making time to be with friends, family, and the people we know care about us. Whatever it is, if it makes life easier for you to deal with on a day by day basis, it's totally valid and fine.

But when do we indulge in self-care? Part of me wants to say that we should do it whenever it feels necessary. Is that too late, though? If it feels necessary to indulge in self-care, does that mean that we've been going too hard too long and should've taken time for ourselves well before then? Like how, if your body is feeling thirsty, then you're already dehydrated? Does it need to be a regular thing? Like, you make sure to take a day off the hustle at least once every week or two? But then, we're also taught that the person who wins is the one who works the hardest. If we know we can keep going, shouldn't we do that instead?

I legit don't have an answer to that part of the question. I can't remember when I last took a full day off, and I definitely burn out before I let myself have a break. Which probably isn't healthy. And what about when you can't get a break, like when it comes to current events? Corrupt law enforcement officials aren't going to stop shooting black men just because we're tired.

Sometimes it's also good to mix up what your style of self-care is. If you deal with things by unplugging, and you're hurting because nothing gets done, maybe diving in would actually help, and vice versa. As much as I'm all about doing the work, I probably need a day to unwind and just watch, like, a whole season of some TV show.

I don't really have any hard and fast solutions today. I'm sad, and I'm weary, and I don't know how to solve racism in America. Obviously, I'm taking too much on myself if I think that I, a lone white girl, can solve racism in America. But I don't really know what to say. I just want to make sure everyone is at least looking after themselves as best as we all can.