Many of us can relate to the ‘pendulum of self-care’.
We’re feeling great, firing on all cylinders and self-care doesn’t feel half as important. And then it swings right back to the opposite end of the scale and it becomes everything. It becomes the tool that helps us to hang on by our fingertips, the mode by which we gently ease our way back to health. It becomes a vital, life-saving act of self-kindness.
We pick it up and put it down depending on how great we feel, often experiencing a ‘feast or famine’ on our internal resources – the pendulum effect.
What if, rather than using self-care as a rescue remedy, we think of self-care as our daily power-ups – the actions we take to keep our power topped up?
For those of us well versed in Super Mario, it’s akin to collecting hearts, coins, mushrooms, fire flowers and frog suits, just in case we might need them later. It’s fun to collect them, there’s a sense of achievement and you really just never know when you might find yourself in a sticky spot and really need a spangled fire flower to see off an enemy.
And, in a way, life imitates these games . . .
We can be certain that there will be something in our future that will test us and use up our feeling-well-ness. We all need allies to help us fight the enemies (depression, anxiety, boundaries and other things that deplete us). We can power up our strength by taking care of our emotional, mental, physical and social needs. We can think of hurdles as overcomable – with the right resources.
Surely, then, it makes complete sense that we power up at each and every opportunity, just like Mario would? So that when the bad times roll around (because they always do) we’re as ready as we can be – we have magic powers stored up to dip into and power us through.
And doesn’t ‘power up’ sound much more fun and less obligatory? It takes that sense of playfulness from gaming, of possibility, of hope, of there being infinite endings and applies it to real life. We can change our view of self-care from being something we only do when we need to, to something that’s fun to build up and collect as we go along. Like a real-life hero, which is what you are.
Your challenge, should you wish to accept it, is to start collecting those power-ups. What recharges, energises and powers you up?
This piece is an extract from our book Kind Words For Unkind Days, published by Orion Spring, which is available in our shop, and in your favourite book stores. Thank you so much for your kind words about this book.
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