I increasingly find myself practicing self-preservation. It often feels like I’m treating myself like a child. I ensure I’m watching mindless shows, make myself take naps if I’m too tired, unplug more often, and if I’m bothered I try to do something I know will bring me joy. I’ve noticed doing this helps my mental health a bit simply because I’m taking more control over the way I spend my time and media I intake.
Of course one should stay away from whatever may make their mental health worse, but oftentimes it’s not that simple. In using self-preservation, I find that I can better handle situations when avoidance is impossible.
I define self-preservation as implementing acts of self-care all day or most of the day, every day, not just when I’m overwhelmed or if something awful happens.
Because of how chaotic things seem in the world, my tolerance for certain shows has decreased significantly. A prime example of this is Empire. This series returns this fall and, once I find out the outcome of the cliffhanger, I won’t be watching. Like Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder before it, for me, Empire‘s gotten far too intense for me and I mentally can’t take it anymore.
These days, I find myself leaning more toward a handful of reality shows, quick 30-minute shows, anime, and cartoons (ones meant for children, and ones meant for adults). I enjoy almost all of Cartoon Network’s current programming and a few shows from Adult Swim’s lineup. I’ve also found watching cartoons from my childhood on Boomerang and The Splat to be rather relaxing.
Recently, I’ve taken to watching Dexter’s Laboratory on Boomerang at night. I caught an episode of the 1998 Pokemon series just before Dexter’s Lab, and have started watching it for the first time. I’ve even taken an interest in the old sitcom Blossom. Hallmark Channel movies, The Great British Bake Off, HGTV’s programming, Big Brother, and cooking shows grant me a light, sometimes frivolous or informative, options. In other words, when watching telly, I ensure whatever it is leaves me feeling happy or positive, not anxious or bothered.
I may or may not have mentioned in my previous blogs my attempts to unplug and decompress much more frequently. I spend significantly less time browsing Twitter these days, and I do what I can to stay away from horrible headlines. I’ve gone out a couple times with friends, but I’ve also allowed myself to decline invitations when my chronic illness simply won’t allow me. Not forcing myself when I’m not up for something and minding my habits has done wonders for my mental and physical health. I don’t burn out as quickly, and I find both my OCD and anxiety symptoms have minimized.
A week ago, I encountered a situation that sent my anxiety reeling and my intrusive thoughts racing. I couldn’t stop myself from ruminating and worrying, but I took notice of my ability to get past the stressor a hair quicker than usual. While it’s may not seem like much on paper, this minor decrease in symptoms made my outlook on my conditions that much brighter.
I see myself continuing this shift in behavior for at least a couple months. It’s certainly my aim to stick with it. For now, I find that these acts of self-preservation serve as a much-needed reminder for me to stop overworking myself and appreciate little moments. Wherever I can, I need to fill my time with things, media, and people that bring me positivity and joy. Doing so is one of the best attempts for me to bridle my conditions and keep myself as the one in control.