Thinking Out Loud: On Discipline & Self-Care

June 29, 2017

Something that has been racking my brain recently is the blurry spectrum of self-care and how it relates to discipline. I have been planning this post for weeks now to join in thinking aloud. Problem is the intense struggle of actually getting my thoughts into words. Writer's block indeed. Rather than procrastinate for yet another week, I decided to let those thoughts and feelings flow, hopefully not too incoherently, and just write that SFD.

The world of self-care is very confusing. The real question that has been nagging at me that started this whole thing was: Is there such a thing as too much self-care? I feel I use self-care as a way to excuse myself from doing the "hard things," from doing things I don't necessarily want to do (homework, clean my room), and sometimes even things I do truly want to do (take more pictures, play the piano), the latter are things that could be considered self-care too.

With my busy schedule this summer, I find myself getting home at the end of the day exhausted in all aspects. I just want to curl in bed and watch mindless TV. Not that TV as self-care is a bad thing; it might be exactly what I need in that moment but not the self-care that I know I ultimately need or want to partake in. And maybe it's the "should" monster in me speaking but there has to be truth in this compulsion.

Also slightly on that note, since recovery, I feel my discipline declining. In the peak of my eating disorder, I was exercising 5-6 times a week. I would get up for a run or would force myself to go the gym. It was obviously not the healthiest thing (hello ED!) for me at the time nor do I want to go back to that mindset. But when I look back and reflect on that time, my drive was stellar. I amazingly somehow had energy to accomplish that, classes, a part-time job and not feel as drained as I do now. I don't remember finding myself scrolling through my Facebook feed every 10 minutes (seriously the number of times I visited Facebook when writing this most is unreal) or checking how many people viewed my Snaps or refreshing my email, waiting for an update somewhere, anywhere. I don't know what I am waiting for.

There were times I did not even take my phone with me to the gym. Although the exercise addiction and eating disorder took over my life, I miss the freedom of not being addicted to my phone. This is probably the biggest thing that is getting to me. What's even more frustrating is know that it isn't the healthiest thing for my mental space. It's too easy to get lost in the comparison spiral, the "ideal." Though sadly, I think part my brain wants to let it slide as "self-care," that I should basically allow myself to do it because I need to appease that slight anxiety of not checking it. Rather than have the control to step away from my phone, I give in to the urges and bring it out.

In the past 2 years, I may not necessarily have gotten lazier but I find I am missing that spark within me. I am missing a sense of motivation. A drive to get myself out of bed and not check Instagram first thing in the morning. A drive to choose to clear the clutter from my desk rather than watch a bajillion movie trailers on YouTube.

I take more Buzzfeed quizzes on a daily basis that tell me what kind of cake I am or how many kids I'll have than I would like admit. Is is wrong to call that self-care? Am I merely using it as avoidance, distraction, from the self-care that I truly need but can be more taxing? Is self-care something that does not have to be forced? If it's exhausting in the short-term but potentially fulfilling in the long run, is it still self-care? Can self-care make you unhappy, for example when journaling and sitting with uncomfortable feelings? Where is the discipline to stop me from opening Buzzfeed in the first place? Should self-care come with discipline? If yes, how do incorporate it without self-caret becoming a chore that we don't look forward to?

More than anything, I would love to hear your thoughts around self-care or discipline, particularly when it comes to social media and the internet and being glued to our phones. Thank you for allowing me to rattle on with little sense.

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  1. This is such a good question. I have found myself just being lazy and scrolling through social media, but i have found just laying outside and gazing up at the heavens and thinking on God's wonder and the wonder of how Jesus Christ came to the world to save a sinner, such a small person like me, that almost feels like a form of self care that isn't draining. If I'm on social media for too long, just mindlessly scrolling, it almost becomes agitating because I let myself spiral down into the comparison trap. Yet, going outside is always so refreshing!

    1. Completely agree on the going outside! Sadly, as energizing as it feels, it can be hard to motivate myself to just get up and breathe in the fresh air. :(

  2. Wow. I hear what you're saying, and there's a part of me that wants to be like "No! There is no such thing as too much self care!" but then there's the grad student in me who finds herself on Facebook every thirty minutes when she has a million other things to be doing. I feel pretty crummy when that happens. :(
    One thing that I know from reading your blog is that you are a really, really hard worker. You're a student, you're working, you had an internship--you even are taking summer classes! I'd be exhausted if I were you. One thing I think I've realized at least for myself is that, even if I'm struggling to stay on top of stuff, taking a break doesn't make me lazy. Taking a break is normal; it's the number of responsibilities I have that's bananas! Then again, I have to remind myself that a lot. Especially when I realized I didn't turn in the last major assignment of my semester. Wow. I was so stressed about my thesis I just forgot it. :P
    Hang in there, Kaylee! You are such a hard worker--I'm impressed every time I could to this blog. :)

    1. Ohmygoodness Joyce. This touches my heart so. Thank you for these kind words. From what you said, I think we have the self-care down but the piece we may be struggling with is the self-compassion.

  3. This resonates with me so, so much. I think there's a slow progression from the mindset we have in the worst stages of our ED to the mindset we adopt as we heal. The former being an obsessive fixation on doing everything, all at once, and if you don't, you've failed. And the latter, one that still recognizes the need for productivity and drive but approaches it with more compassion and forgiveness. The time in between the two can just feel kinda lazy. That's how I feel sometimes, but I think the lazy feeling is an important part of the process It's different for everyone because recovery is different for everyone. Thank you so much for this. It makes me feel better to know there are other people who feel the same things I feel :)

    1. Oh that black & white thinking. I really want to work on that compassion piece particularly towards myself.
      Thank YOU so much for commenting! I'm comforted to know too I am alone in feeling this way.

  4. Oh girl. There is so much in this post to talk about. Can we just get a coffee....?

    Okay first. Joyce is so right. You work extremely hard so it makes total sense that your brain and body tend to flock toward the things that take the least amount of effort - i.e. Facebook, instagram etc. They are instant forms of distraction and entertainment that are comfortable and don't take any extra decision making. Trying to recognize the "why" behind why you are doing this I hope can lead toward some compassion.

    Now. Self Care. Holy moly same thoughts. I often wonder if I actually stress myself out MORE by "forcing" certain activities - which I "think" are supposed to be self care. But what if its all in my head and I don't ACTUALLY like the activity? Or, what if it really is good for me and it is just the discomfort of trying something new, or relaxing in a new way, that I find a struggle? Do I continue trying to do it? Do I force it? Until maybe it does feel like self care? I think the only answer here is it comes down to trial and error, and - yes - trust in the LONG term. If we try something a few times and we are able to honestly see that it did not actually feel good to us... let it go. It is not self care for US. But sometimes things do need forcing - like maybe painting twice a week, or those piano lessons - because once we actually do it, we know we feel better afterwards.

    I think awareness and mindfulness need to be in strong practice here, for both of us. How does watching a bunch of TV after a long day make you feel? Do you feel more grounded the next morning? Are you able to go back into your busy day with motivation? If so, then that is exactly what you need. Or do you feel more stressed and sluggish and unmotivated? Then maybe its time to take a serious look at scheduling in some other activities and almost "forcing" yourself to try them out for a few initial attempts. Then, we need to distinguish between the feelings of our old selves and our new selves. Sometimes after I treat myself - my NEW self - with forms of self care, I actually feel sad. But, I also feel grounded and aware of myself. This, I know, means I did the right thing. Its just really, really, really hard work. Transitioning to change.

    As for recovery. Oh man. I think about this all the time. How, in the worst of my illness, I was so freaking driven!! I mean I worked out everyday... I cooked... I cleaned... how did I have the energy!? Whereas now, my motivation to go to the gym in zilch. So it can be so SO easy to feel lazy. Of course we would feel this way. We are so accustomed to a whole different paradigm. Its going to take us some time to swing over to the opposite end, and then land in a middle place.

    I was going to email you this, as it is a novel... but I thought the discussion through comments could be helpful. I still may email you though. I have more thoughts. Love to you.

    1. Ugh, yes please!!! Even a virtual coffee date will suffice at this point.

      Oh, that silly thing called trust. I think trust and I have trust issues. But all those questions you have around self-care wrack my brain too. As you said, it all comes down to exploring the being uncomfortable, to looking at the bigger picture down the line and asking myself if I am moving towards my values. It's frustrating how exhausting being mindful and is though. Bleh.

      I have also been thinking about the drive piece a lot too lately. How externally driven I am at the moment. It may not longer be the ED but is still not coming from a deeper place within my own self. Hmmm, may write another ToL on it soon (...once I find the motivation I need to give myself that side of self-care...)

      Thank you thank you thank you as usual for your kind and oh so wise words, Cora.