Self-Care and Self-Improvement
After six months failing to cure a pinched nerve, I told the physical therapist I was ready to graduate or flunk out. The therapy was wearing me down. He approved and brightened my summer with a lighter, maintenance routine.
There’s always more you could add to your life for self-care and self-improvement. Exercise, learn a language, eat right, meditate, and on and on. Trouble is, we all know there is a limit. If it isn’t hours in the day, it’s the stress of being more and more on duty, even if the duty is to oneself. Where’s the self-care in beating up on ourselves for all the self-care we aren’t doing?
Maybe if I’d gone further with physics or calculus, I could devise a formula to calculate the turning point between worthwhile and obsessive self-care. Perhaps economics offers a clue in the concept of marginal utility: the diminishing benefit gleaned from adding one more unit of whatever.
Not having mastered any of those disciplines, I give a lot of weight to trial and error. What leaves me sluggish or tense? What refreshes me? I used to journal three full pages a morning, come what may. Being more flexible about it improves my spirits, but skipping it two days in a row throws me off balance. There’s nothing like personal experience as a guide for where to draw the line.
9/17/2018 08:30:10 am
I've talked about this with a young (35 years old) friend of mine. She was developing a longer and longer night routine, including flossing, a skin care regimen, hair care, tidy house, and more, every night, and it became a burden.
Absolutely! More ways to feel guilty. More ways to blame the person whose life isn't perfect (i.e., everyone) for that imperfection: "But have you tried . . .?" Yes, supersize everything and more is better, and also we're Americans so we ought to be able to control everything if we just do all the right things.
9/17/2018 11:21:58 am
Yup, me too. Piriformis syndrome had me unable to walk to and from our mail box. Months of chiropractor had us both saying, “Well, if this is not working...” so I quit! And one day I realized it didn’t hurt anymore and I could walk all I wanted again. Must be this getting older thing.
Sounds like precisely what I had, though no one used the phrase "piriformis syndrome." Nice to hear yours went away! Mine is still present, but much less disturbing - PT says partly that the exercises helped for a while, and partly I'm getting used to it. The fact that this getting older thing (which mostly I enjoy) can include one day realizing something doesn't hurt any more.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.