In a recent post, I had briefly touched on the importance of self-care. Self care can be defined as actions an individual takes to care for their own mental, emotional, and/or physical well being. Self-care can be different to each person, but self care is not being self indulgent and does not involve pampering yourself. Instead, self care involves healthy life style changes. These could be changes in exercise habits, eating habits, sleeping habits, getting appropriate medical care, emotional habits (going to counseling, starting a journal, meditating), and making sure those people in your life are healthy for you and supportive of you. It is important to remember that self care is not selfish, and if it sometimes feels selfish, that’s because it takes courage-and without courage to start taking care of yourself, you would never become who you really are especially if you are not nourishing yourself. As a women who takes on many different roles in my life, I can honestly say that I put myself last on many occasions, making self-care difficult to practice. This can be pretty overwhelming and exhausting. I am slowly learning how important self care is in being able to cope with infertility on a daily basis. I am also learning what self care involves and what I have been neglecting to do to take care of myself.
One thing I did this month to practice self care was to stop charting and stop taking OPK tests. This may be a very little thing, but to me it was actually very freeing for my emotional well being. For the past 2 years, I have charted my symptoms and peed on a stick in my fertile window anxiously waiting to see that darn smile face that would determine for me when I would have the best chance to conceive and so we would then do the BD. Little did I realize, how stressful this has been on me and how it has been aiding to my anxiety and stress. Now don’t get me wrong, charting and doing OPK’s are wonderful in determining your fertile window if you are trying to conceive, but when it is just not happening month after month it just starts to become a chore. This behavior has also become a little obsessive, and not to mention OPK’s are expensive (a 2 month supply for me is almost $40). It was nice to just let go of this and relax a bit. It was nice to do the BD on my own terms and not on the OPK’s terms. It sure did take the pressure off my husband and I. This may have been a little thing, but I am so proud of myself for just letting go of it this month. It was truly an eye opener of how even just a little thing in the big scheme of things has been so consuming and so controlling of my everyday. I think learning to let go of the little things will help me to start letting go of the big things in the long run. Learning to let go of the things you can not control will be such a relief.
Self-care is different for everyone, therefore what actions you take will be different. I think the most important and yet also the hardest part of self care is starting somewhere-especially when you are so used to putting yourself last and are a people pleaser by nature. Like me, you can start little by little or you can dive right in and come up with an entire plan of what actions you want to start doing to better take care of yourself. The first step, like most things, is acknowledging you need to start putting yourself in front of the line and realizing you can’t take care of anyone else if you are not taking good care of yourself. Remember you matter too. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. It’s so important to pay attention to your own mind, body and soul.