Self-improvement as self care

Something I’ve noticed as I’ve become increasingly more immersed in “the working world” is that my creativity span has slowly started to collapse. I’m often tired and irritable when I get home from work and I’ve never been a morning person, so most of my productivity and creation typically happens in the afternoons and evenings. I like to read, write, make mixes, create things in Photoshop, etc. But the more hours I work, the less I want to do any of those things. All I want to do is play Candy Crush, listen to “Welcome to Night Vale”, and sleep.

I’m really, really unhappy about my lack of energy and creativity lately, so starting now, I’m taking steps to change that.

One of my goals for this year was to read 100 books. I haven’t even read 25, which makes me feel like a total failure, so I’m going to aim for at least 50. As of today, I’m going to set aside at least one hour of dedicated reading time each day — whether that’s during my breaks at work or before or after work, I will read for at least 60 minutes every single day. And hopefully my brain will get back into the habit of craving books so that I can read more than that, more often.

Black bean and corn salad, prepared by my mom to accompany tacos. It was so fresh and amazing, I wanted to weep.
Black bean and corn salad, prepared by my mom to accompany tacos. It was so fresh and amazing, I wanted to weep.

I also think a large part of my lack of energy also comes from my eating habits as of late. I’ve been consuming a lot of crappy fast food and crappier frozen things when I’m at home. In college, there was a two-year span where I was mostly vegetarian — the only meat I consumed was fish, and that was incredibly rare. I never felt as fatigued as I did once I started eating meat again (out of laziness, because I didn’t want to make my own food and my parents eat a lot of meat), and I was happier with my physical appearance and habits overall.

Today, I bought several of my favorite vegetarian foods and I’m really, really excited to start moving toward that kind of diet again. I’ll likely still eat some meat (because sushi is a serious weakness), but my goal is to eat as little of it as possible. I think it will honestly help me feel healthier and more energized. Plus, it will help me lose weight and feel a little better about my body, which is a constant struggle.

And while I’m looking after my physical health and making a point of doing something that makes me feel creatively motivated (reading), I’m also going to start exercising my brain again. I recently started working my way through Cracking the GRE, 2013 Edition from the Princeton Review. The longer I work retail, the more desperately I want to go back to school and get my PhD and teach. So I need to get my ass in gear and start working toward getting into grad school. This is the first step.

To further develop my brain’s skills, I signed up for a Lumosity account today. I’ve done two “games” so far — one for memory and one for speed, and I already feel better and more relaxed because I’m using my brain and sharpening my focus. To be completely frank, the thing that brings me the most pleasure and the biggest sense of accomplishment is academia. I thrive when I’m in academic settings, which is something I’ve started to realize ever since I graduated from UNH last spring. I genuinely miss being in school, going to classes and participating in discussions and writing papers. It’s part of why my Velociriot writings often lean toward analytical, education-style pieces rather than journalistic pieces. (Honestly, all I want is to study Shakespeare and then teach it to high school and college students, instill some of my passion for words into others.)

And on top of all of that, I’m going to start regularly meditating once more. Allowing myself to be so stressed out about work has caused me to suffer mentally and physically, but also spiritually. And I’m starting to feel all of that in a really intense way. It’s terrible and I don’t like it and I need it to stop. So this is me, making a promise to myself (and the people who read this blog) that I’m stopping it. Right now.

I’m going to take care of myself, work and its stresses be damned.

The part that will be hardest, I think, is following through and sticking to these goals. It will be difficult to force myself to make time for these things when I get home from an incredibly long or stressful day at work — but I’m going to do my best to stick with these plans and make food that is healthy for me and read books that tug at my chest and practice problems that stretch my brain to its limits. I’m also going to focus on breathing and learn to accept that there are things I can’t control, but also lots of things that I can. I want to better myself and accomplish goals I’ve had laid out for years. I don’t want to lose track of myself or my life aspirations, and my fear is that right now, I’m doing exactly that.

So here’s to self-improvement as self care, and all the little joys that will come along with it.

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Self-improvement as self care

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