I first was introduced to the term self care on Instagram. Meme’s and photo captions about saying “yes” to shopping, taking trips, indulging in “pleasure” foods etc., were what I quickly came to understand was the meaning behind the term. Treat yourself is what I saw and heard. Have stress at work? Buy a new outfit. Is your anxiety running rampant? Plan and go on an Instagram worth luxury trip. It didn’t take long for me to deduce that self care meant go spend money for that dopamine hit, and get back to the grind of whatever it was that was causing you stress. At the time, I had a lot of stress in my life so, I figured if so many people were saying this is what I was supposed to do as an adult to relieve that stress, I should try it too. After all, all of the people I saw in those posts seemed happy and relaxed so they must be on to something, right?
In the initial stages of my journey into self care I maxed out credit cards and was a non stop woman on the go. If I was walking through the mall or online shopping when I came across something cute, even if I couldn’t afford it, I bought it and told myself it was self care. If I wanted to go somewhere extravagant I rationalized the trip cost, by classifying it as self care. If I was looking for a reason to justify eating half a cheesecake in bed on a Saturday, I chalked that up to self care, too. I did the things social media told me I was supposed to do but I was still tired, more stressed because my bills were racking up, and gaining weight. I was anxious, depressed, and generally unhappy with my life, still. I slowly came to realize that I must be doing it wrong.
For some reason, it never occurred to me in those beginning months to do my own research and get down to the bottom of what self care was actually about. So, for months, I kept at it. I kept trying to buy self care because I didn’t know that self care isn’t about the act of buying stuff in itself. Self care, I’ve come to learn, is about the process of making time for yourself. Self care is about making yourself as much of a priority as your job, your kids, your relationship, your family, and your friends. It’s setting aside time to say, “Hey, I’m important to!
Since I have begun to look into self care and what it should actually look like, I’ve come to learn self care is many things like:
- Going for a walk
- Creating a household budget
- Cleaning your house or car
- Setting goals and sticking to them
- Saying “No”
- Setting boundaries
- Using a daily journal
And the list goes on and on.
This Self Care Sunday series will pick a new form of self care from the list above, as well as other gems I come across, and discuss the potential benefits of each form of free, to almost free, self care. Let’s get into this week’s topic, shall we?
What’s happening in the room around you right now?
Shortly before I sat down to write this post, my T.V. was on (I was playing Fortnite), the vent fan was on in the kitchen, the bedroom T.V. was on Everybody Loves Raymond, the dog was barking on the patio at the kids gleefully screaming and playing outside, my cellphone was going off with text message notifications, it was an auditory onslaught. As such, I was hyper reactionary. I was fidgeting about and my attention was split. I had all this going on while trying to figure out what I was going to write about today. I couldn’t get focused. Does this sound similar to what may be going on in your house right now?
Life is loud and full of distractions. For most of us, from the time we wake in the morning to the time we go to sleep we are drowned in sound. And hell, some of us can’t sleep without noise. Can you imagine what that must be doing to your brain and body? Constantly being surrounded by noise with no break, for your brain, is like having your cellphone on 24-hours a day with all of the apps open with just the sleep function turned on. Sure, the screen will go dark but your phone is still working to manage all of the data you have running. How long do you think your phone will work at its highest capacity like this? How soon do you think you will start having app crashes , slow speeds, and the whole system freezing up on you? Not long, right? Well. Your brain and body operate a lot like your phone.
When you don’t allow yourself silence, your brain is constantly in overdrive processing all of the information, consciously and subconsciously, that you absorb throughout the day. Failure to allow it time to rest and reset will undoubtedly lead to slow processing speeds, crashes in the form of depression, and completely freeze up on you, by way of burnout. I don’t know about you, but burnout does not sound like something I want to be in line for. Turning off the bells, whistles, and sirens of life, for even short periods of time throughout the day, help reduce the negative effects that auditory overstimulation have on your brain and body.
Benefits of Silence:
- Helps improve concentration
- Has a calming effect
- Makes room for clarity of thought
- Offers moments of self reflection
- Can make you more patient
- Can reduce anxiety attack frequency
- Promotes peacefulness
- Can lower blood pressure
- Ability to learn more about yourself
- Allows you to just be
There are many other benefits to practicing silence. This list only contains the benefits I have received from practicing regularly.
How do I practice silence?
- Turn off all sound
That’s it! I don’t put any other limitation on how I practice silence. I simply exist in it. Most mornings when I wake up for work, I simply don’t turn on anything with sound. This gives me the opportunity to observe my thoughts and body, first thing in the day. I can figure out what my base mood is, and adjust it before I walk out of the house. I don’t set a time limit, I just allow myself to remain in silence for as long as I feel I need it. Sometimes, this lasts until I make it to work and can no longer avoid sound. The best thing about practicing silence, to me, is that it isn’t restrictive.
For the next week, I challenge you to spend one hour every day in complete, controllable, silence. Once the week is up, I want to hear about your experience with it in the comments below.
I’m nobody’s doctor or therapist, although I do know a good one that I could refer you to. If you want cold hard facts about the benefits of silence, do your own research and talk to your healthcare professional. This is just my own two cents on something that seems like common sense to me. People need moments of silence.