Self-care when self-employed

food-plate-healthy-coffeeIt happens that I have moved house at the same time as moving on from the planning phase of starting a business to the actually-having-a-business-to-my-name one. At the ripe old age of 27 and 8 months, it feels like a new beginning. I’m not married (in fact, I’m still all over the Christian blogosphere talking about singleness), nor expecting a child, and I haven’t bought an American hound puppy to name Toby, but it still feels like something is changing, and so I have acted accordingly. Add to that a possible turn for the worst in my diabetes management, and it really dawned on me with the urgency of the end of times.

I faced my tendency to be lazy in self-care due to being a workaholic and always stressing out about not enough being done, and decided that I needed to find some way that resonated with me not to stick my bottom on a chair once I’ve got it out of bed, and in bed once I’ve got it off the chair, and I’ve started with these 5 changes.

Change no 1 – My desk is just my desk
I used to live in tiny flats shared by too many people, with hardly any space where to eat or relax that wasn’t in my room already. My desk became my desk, a general surface to put everything, and a table for breakfast, lunch and dinner (when I wasn’t outright eating on my bed). The result was that I would work and eat, failing to focus on either work or eating, be bloated all the time, feel sluggish and reach out for Red Bull a little too often. When I was house-hunting, the size of the house had the biggest impact on the choice. Having a living room was one of my non-negotiables. The desk is still as messy as it gets and a place where everything that needs somewhere to go temporarily will go for the rest of the year (I haven’t turned into Tidyzilla yet, sorry Mother!), but I don’t fall into the trap that many employed people (including myself at the time) fall into so they look committed. I’m the boss, I know I’m committed.

Change no 2 – I get my food delivered
My new home has a massive kitchen where cooking is a lovely break for myself rather than an oppressive duty in order to get food in the body, and it has enough space to store things long-term instead of having the stress of going to the shop every two days. Trying to keep a varied and balanced diet when I could basically only store one bag of veggies and one box of turkey breasts wasn’t that great. The first thing I’ve done when I moved was sign up for a weekly box of fruit and veggies and one of meat and fish from Abel and Cole. It’s organic, it helps local farmers, they do their best to be as eco-friendly as possible in the way they run the business and it just tastes great. And it ticks the one box of my only hortorexic obsession, seasonal eating. And it makes planning for what to eat so much easier and just.once.a.week. (although I went off track a lot…).

Change no 3 – I’ve actually organised my space in a way that works for me
This goes back to the virtues of moving to a commuter residential area in Tory Outer London, where house-shares aren’t cramped in order to milk as much money as possible out of desperate people who need to cut down travel time, and travel costs, to their workplace, and think zone 4-6 is the jungle. It’s also about the fact the room (which is huge) only came with two built-in wardrobes and a bed frame, which the previous owner kept in a way that would steal too much space. Now I can keep two double beds side by side, or rather keep the floor clear for my yoga and ballet practice.
I’m a generally messy person, as every creative would say about themselves, but I’m also an interior decorator so I have a particular obsessive interest in making houses look pretty. It used to be really bad when I had very ill periods and I would just accumulate things in a cramped space due to not being able to reach the wardrobe etc. My wardrobe would literally be on the floor in its entirety (and anyone who knows how many clothes I have can testify that’s like a fashion warehouse), and it would take me at least a whole day as soon as I regained a bit of energy to clean up. Not exactly how I want to spend my good days after a flare up. Now everything is easy to reach, and I even have some beauty products ready to go for a sort of morning routine (I take early mornings very slow and very easy, no amount of tricks has turned me into a morning person.)

Change no 4 – The dreaded exercise plan
One of the key aspects of treating arthritis is exercising to keep flexibility, despite the fact the condition itself makes you less mobile. A healthy weight also means less pressure on the joints of the legs. Diabetes, instead, depends on the relationship between your body and insulin. When you aren’t insulin-dependent it’s all about your body not being resistant to the insulin it produces, and you achieve that with a fast metabolism and a healthy weight.
When you suffer from both issues, you really can’t escape, however hard it feels. Taking good advantage of an extended period I’ve been flare up-free (God willing one that is meant to last), I have been on a 8 weeks training programme. 3 days a week running, 2 days yoga, 1 ballet, 1 rest. I’ve had my days of being unable to get out of bed but overall I feel like a normal person. There is something that feels positive about doing something fitness related, however easy or short (because obviously I have to take into account it’s still me we’re talking about), so I’m happy that not having to commute gives me the little bit of energy to use for that.

Change no 5 – I work around my self-care, not the other way around
I don’t remember ever seeing my parents take a sick day. I’ve seen my mother go to work with a 38ยบ fever, and only take days off when a benign tumour and later cancer caught up with her (but I’m not an eye witness to this). She has always criticised my father for not doing stuff when his shift pattern gave him free time. I’ve grown up with the impression that you need to burn out to keep your job, otherwise you aren’t serious or committed enough. And this is an attitude that literally killed people, as the news sometimes report. I believe it would be stupid if I had the chance to do something about this culture and ended up putting the same pressure on myself when really I’m the one I need to give an account to and no one else. My official working hours are 11-5pm, with half an hour lunch break. I more often than not put overtime on either end of the day (or both), but scheduling work that involves other people as late in the day as possible means that that night I’m wide awake for 2h after a nightmare I can wake up later. Or the day my legs feel like they can’t hold me standing I can get things done from my bed until it’s absolutely necessary that I get up. And so on. When you work in a big company, you’re easily replaced if things go wrong. When your income depends entirely on you, there’s only one you and you need to take good care of it. If you burn out, bills don’t get paid.

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