What Self Care Means To Matt, as a Survivor.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and narcissistic abuse, one of the key parts of my healing journey is that of regular self-care.
Without self-care, our progress is slowed, our self-confidence is diminished even more, and our self-worth continues to self care be crushed under the weight of our past. By not taking time for ourselves, and being kind to ourselves, we are robbing our minds of the peace it is so desperately seeking for us.
What does self-care mean to me in particular? It’s something that contains many different facets in daily life. I rely on an arsenal of activities and techniques to help quiet my mind, ease my stress, lower my anxiety, and try to look at my life in a more positive way.
Writing and Blogging – In my case this is a no brainer. Writing is a huge release for me. It allows me to give a permanent voice to my healing journey. By validating myself through words, and sharing them with others online, I am able to release anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, and any other emotion I’m feeling.
I use writing to help me work through a therapy or coaching session, and retain what I’ve learned. I use it to help others realize they are not alone, and validate their feelings. I use it to connect with others so they can help me as much as I hope to help them.
You don’t have to be Pulitzer prize winning writer to put your thoughts down on paper or via keyboard. Just write what’s in your heart and share your feelings, and you just might be pleasantly surprised at how much good it does.
Music is a large of my life, and always has been. Even before I realized I was a survivor, I had always been into music by either listening or playing. Growing up singing in choirs, playing in stage bands, and pep bands all throughout my school years, it set the tone for what would help me in the future.
Not only did I find enjoyment, peace, and acceptance in the music programs, but also validation in listening to my particular type of music. As a self-proclaimed and proud rocker, I have always felt at home listening to my beloved hard rock and metal.
I realize my type of music is not for everyone, but looking for validation, acceptance, and kinship during my formative years; metal provided this for me. It’s been with me ever since and still is to this day.
Music takes me away to a safe place in my mind. The beat of the drums, the melodic screams of validating lyrics, and ever present guitar riffs speak to me and ease my anxiety.
That teenager who abused me so long ago, and took away my innocence for his own selfish gratification can’t hurt me when I take my life back, by using this form of self-care.
Mindfulness, a self-care staple for me, became an integral part of my healing journey as soon as I learned what in the world it actually was. As I would come to find out, it’s as necessary as eating and drinking for me.
When I am caught in a stressful situation and my anxiety is beginning to spike, using mindfulness techniques help me keep my focus and keep me from spinning out at the drop of hat.
Something as simple and inconspicuous as consciously feeling my feet on the floor, my hands on the arm rests of a chair, and slow deliberate deep breaths can do wonders in just a matter of minutes.
Sometimes I’ll trace the corners of a wall or ceiling, a chalk board, even my computer monitor. Anything to keep my mind from drifting off is a benefit.
By focusing on the here and now and being fully present, the chances of getting caught up in an unhealthy situation are diminished. The fewer unhealthy situations we put ourselves in, the more confident we become that we are in control of who we are and what we do.
Talk about taking your life back! Mindfulness is a huge part of self-care. After all, we may very well have been brainwashed that our individual lives didn’t matter. So taking care of ourselves helps us realize that we do matter.
Some other self-care activities and techniques that work for me:
Walking or Bike Riding – Being outside, being out in nature, and breathing in the fresh air is so important. Not only do we get the physical health benefits of exercise, but our minds can be allowed to just relax for a change and enjoy the peacefulness and tranquility of nature.
Listen to the birds, watch a squirrel climb a tree, or sit out on your porch and listen to the rain during a summer shower. It’s a powerful, yet soothing way to relax.
Reading – a very common one for countless people, survivors or not, reading can transport us to another time and place. It’s an escape that allows us to use our imaginations and not have to think about the stresses of real life.
I find validation and peace in reading self-help books about mindfulness, dealing with anxiety, and learning how the brain is affected by trauma. I realize that may not be for everyone, but that’s why reading is so great; there’s an unending supply of topics to choose from, anytime and anywhere.
Movies – Allow yourself to get caught up in a movie. By focusing on a movie and enjoying being taken away from the here and now for a couple of hours, we give our minds a break. We laugh, we cry, we cringe down in our chairs in suspense. For that period of time, whatever troubles we suffer from can take a back seat for a change.
That’s some of what self-care means to me. Whatever you do, just remember you are worth putting yourself first. Give yourself a break and have some fun. Your mind, your inner child, and your adult self all deserve it.