In November, I injured my knee. That first week of lying immobile on the couch felt like it would never end. I was discouraged after months of running and doing yoga three to four times a week. My first thought, ashamedly, was ‘I’m going to gain weight.’ Then I realized, I also had the best grip I’d ever had on my health and energy levels. I had been doing so well.
Eventually, I caved into my couch-bound lifestyle. Limping around my house was embarrassing enough without having to limp around in public. Besides, my other knee and hip had started to ache from all the limping. I determined I could do this, I could live on the couch.
The problem — I let this attitude affect a lot of other, not knee-related aspects of my life. I wrote less. I read less. I took care of myself less. I started sleeping in more, sleeping more period. I ate well at first, weight-gain at the forefront of my mind, and then I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. The first two weeks were the best actually because I couldn't move as much, I couldn’t get to the kitchen as much.
My lack of willpower and laziness came to a crescendo when I stopped taking care of myself. I hit the point where I was taking out my contacts one night, surprised I’d even put them in honestly, and thought maybe I just won’t brush my teeth. I looked at myself in the mirror, ‘Did I really just think that?’ Teeth brushing takes all of two minutes.
That’s when it hit me. Deep down, I blamed my body for betraying me. ‘How could you do this to me?’ I thought. ‘We were doing so well, how could you sabotage us like this?’ If my body could form a response it probably would've said, “How could you stop taking care of me?” Don’t we all know that when we're sick or injured, we have to take better care of ourselves and not give up?
This moment is what made me promise to start showing up for myself again.
Whenever I was too lazy to go upstairs and get my water bottle to take my supplements, the voice said show up for yourself. Whenever my alarm went off and all I wanted to do was turn it off and continue sleeping, the voice said show up for yourself. When my yoga practice got harder and my short walks became more and more difficult to complete, I reminded myself that I needed to do these things for myself. More importantly, I wanted to do these things for myself. The only reason it was hard was that I’d stopped doing them in the first place.
So, when I say show up for yourself in 2021, I mean it in the simplest, most personal way. When you feel lazy, it’s reminding yourself that you do so much for other people, you can do this one, easy thing for yourself. When you’re lacking motivation, it’s saying “No, I’m showing up for myself.” Whether it’s going to sleep early or sleeping in. It could be cooking yourself a healthy meal or making a delicious treat. It could be as simple as washing your face, flossing your teeth, or going to get your water bottle when your thirsty, but don’t feel like moving. If you’re comfortable in bed but the fans not on, or the blinds aren’t closed all the way, it’s getting out of bed to fix these problems because you know they’ll interfere with your sleep. No one likes waking up sweaty (or freezing because the space heater is just so far) or with a patch of sunlight in their face.
Showing up for yourself is doing things that benefit you in the present moment and the future. It’s also doing things because you know you’ll otherwise have to deal with them or future you will face the consequences of not doing it.
Think about it. Is there a hobby you’ve been neglecting as work and school have seeped into your home life? When was the last time you saw the dentist or eye doctor?
Each and every one of us can come up with at least one way, big or small, that we stopped showing up for ourselves in 2020. There’s nothing wrong with this. It happens. You get busy with work or home life, your colleagues or family members need you more. You have responsibilities, an ever-growing to-do list. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize when you start neglecting yourself and your own needs by putting other's needs before your own or because you’re tired, lazy, or overall lacking motivation. When this happens, take the time to acknowledge that it’s happening (or happened), identify why it’s happening (or happened), and fix it. At the end of the day, showing up for yourself is easy.
Remember you already do so much for everyone else, you can do this one thing for yourself. You need to show up for you everyday, not when it’s to late, necessary, or critical, but all of the time.