The past few weeks have been very difficult. I’ve found myself torn to pieces and shedding tears not only over the many tragic news stories that have occurred but also the despairing lack of empathy and compassion these events elicit from people on Facebook. People seem so fearfully attached to comforting beliefs and ideologies that they can’t react with care or concern for their fellow citizens and instead blame, ignore the human tragedy, and post memes of political and ideological propaganda. No healing occurs, wounds can’t heal, divisions are deepened.
There isn’t much I can do about this besides commit to being a source of compassion not only for those who have been at the center of these news stories, but also for those many people I know on Facebook who seem closed to empathy. I can also take care of myself so I don’t get dragged down by the chaos in our country and can continue to be the person I strive to be.
What does it look like for me to take care of myself? Right now it’s sitting on my floor, enjoying the peace of toddler nap-time and indulging in a simple, comforting pleasure: watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (Picard could save us!). This is self comfort: a small indulgence, like a heated seat in a car, that boosts your mood and feels relaxing.
I also took Jack to the YMCA today so I could exercise and sit in the sauna. The sauna is one of the best ways for me to boost my mood and I certainly needed it today. Time alone is also critical for me, as are time outside, reading and writing, and quiet. These are self-care items, necessary to optimal functioning like oil in your car engine.
Some things I am trying not to do that I would have done in the past: shop, eat, bake, sleep excessively. The more I delve into habit making to improve my happiness level, the more I see that the way to happiness is in these small pleasures and good habits, these moments of caring for myself with a few hours alone or sitting outside in the early morning with a hot cup of coffee and a book. Or watching 1990s TV on a rare day when I am alone in the house (or at least alone with a sleeping child).