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As we head into the New Year, everyone starts to think about resolutions. As an overwhelmed, always-busy mom, I frequently promise myself that I’ll do some self-care – and then it’s the first thing to get bumped out of the schedule because there is just too much to do. Think about it: How many times have you made a joke about being able to even just take a shower? Probably at least once a week. And if we can’t even find time to shower, how do we find time to do anything else to take care of ourselves?
So that’s my self-care resolution for 2017: Just take a shower. Just that. It’s so basic it seems trivial, and yet.
That less-than-human feeling
One of the things I struggle most with is chronic, severe depression. There’s a good list that’s gone around the Internet of questions to ask yourself before giving up. I’ve read through it plenty of times. It asks if you’ve showered in the past day, and advises doing so if you haven’t.
The list itself doesn’t elaborate, but I will. I know I can ignore the grimy feeling for a while but there comes a point when dirty hair and a greasy face start to make me feel horrible. Everything irritates me, and everything seems terrible.
Before a therapist suggested it to me, I never really associated my increasing depression with a failure to just take a shower. It seems like it wouldn’t make a difference, but it does. That physical sensation of being gross locks on to emotional sensations of being gross, too, and before you know it you’re accumulating dirt and self-loathing like a Katamari rolling downhill.
And then you just take a few minutes to clean up, and sometimes – a lot of times – it’s enough to change your perspective. At least, it is for me. I feel human again.
We take care of things that we value.
And if we don’t take care of ourselves, what message does that send our subconscious?
So, while I have a Pinterest board of self-care ideas that are more elaborate – lovely hot soaks, time spent with art materials I enjoy, journaling, fancy coffee drinks – the one I am committing to is to just take a shower, every day.
I know there are days that will end up too hectic, when I’m running to five different appointments and trying to get dinner on the table and worrying about paying bills. And that’s OK. I’ll just plan to set aside the ten minutes to shower the next day. I’m not going to fall into the trap of not keeping promises I’ve made myself and not trusting myself. Nope.
What if taking a shower is too hard?
I get that. I do. I have knee and hip pain on one side and it sometimes makes standing in a hard bathtub terrible. And there are others who deal with pain, fatigue, and other issues that make “just take a shower” seem like climbing a mountain. I’m looking into a shower chair for some help with that, though I don’t presume to know much about other assistive technologies that can be helpful.
I’ll be researching more about options for chronic pain and bathing, and I’ll update with what I’ve found.
You have to start somewhere, so just take a shower.
I took one this morning and, because my husband has two weeks off for winter break (he’s an instructor), I actually had the time to shave. I don’t know when I last shaved. I’m paying a little for the excessive standing – my hip is not happy with me – but it was worth it.
I used a nice shower gel and took the time afterwards to treat myself with a fancy lotion and I feel pretty good. The kids are climbing all over me while I try to write, but because my skin and hair aren’t irritating me, I have more patience for it. So it’s not just good for me – it’s good for them, too.
When mama’s clean, everybody’s happy? I guess we’ll find out!