I post comments all the time on other people's blogs about how they need to be kind to themselves and treat themselves well, but I don't seem to manage to take my own advice until I'm in serious pain.
For the last couple of days, I have been traveling by car and not getting a lot of sleep. I was already having some running-related discomfort in my hip but the car trips sent me over the edge of uncomfortable into painful. I woke up yesterday feeling achy all over. I had the brains to sleep in and not try to exercise yesterday, which oddly enough is a bit of a breakthrough for me. I called to schedule a massage, which is something I have been talking about for three or four weeks. Luckily for me, there was an opening yesterday afternoon.
If you have never had a professional massage, you need to stop reading for a minute and call and make yourself an appointment. Believe me, it's not the same as having your boyfriend rub your shoulders. Go ahead, look in the yellow pages under Massage Therapy or ask a friend for a recommendation. I'll wait.....
Massage is the most decadent thing you can possibly do for under $100. I have had massages by several different therapists and this one was so wonderful that I got tears in my eyes while she was rubbing my calves. We had a long talk about what kinds of things I had been doing that contributed to the pain I was in, but she was very understanding and I didn't get the sense that I was being lectured about my tendency to go for runs but not bother to stretch.
Having someone talk to me about it really made me see that I really am hard on myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I expect my body to take too much abuse and don't care for it properly, just because it happens to be a few pounds heavier than I want it to be. I won't do things that sound fun or relaxing because I should be working on my dissertation, but instead of actually working on it I waste time looking at job postings and message boards or reading Google News. I think that I should be able to handle any crisis that comes my way with a stiff upper lip. And I wonder why my body gets so tight that it ends up hurt.
I'm not saying that I want to give up on all my goals, I just want to watch for when I'm crossing the line from productive into punishing. I have to stop worrying about my dissertation and actually write it. I have to stop worrying about jobs and just apply for them. I have to stop working out like an insane person and do things that actually promote fitness and health. I keep having to relearn this lesson.
Yesterday the massage therapist said, "I want to work on that left leg, but let's take care of the right leg first so it doesn't think it has to hurt itself to get attention." I think that is what I need to do for myself -- take care of my mind and body before I start thinking I have to hurt myself before I can take the time for some self-care.