This blog post has been about two months in the making. I’ve put it down, been a bit on the scared side to make it public. A few weeks ago there was mention of self-care on a Twitter chat. This made my mind up to put this out there.
Self-care is a popular term for taking care of and looking after yourself. I don’t know about you, I find a lot of the ways to uplift your mood or other types of self-care posts really don’t resonate with me as a person with dwarfism. A bath doesn’t do away with the stares or the exhaustion of everyday life.
What follows are my own personal reflections on how to look after your body, your mind, and build resilience as a person with dwarfism. These are quite practical too.
Pfft! Self-Care – Easier Said Than Done
Pfft! That was my usual reaction to when I used to hear the term – self-care.
Let’s take the suggestion, exercise. Yes, I shudder when I hear that term too! There are a million accessibility questions and social anxiety issues running through my head before I even decide which sport could help, let alone step over the door.
Another pervasive trope is ‘Think positive’. All well and groovy, but when you’ve encountered an ignorant twit and you’re wondering got a photo of you, or you’re struggling to reach that damn item and there’s no one to ask for help, these little bits of difficulties stack up that makes life smell like a steaming heap of manure. Be positive – my bottom.
Another one, I apologise, I’m on a roll now, Food – eat healthily, they say. That would be great if you could actually reach that obscure clean-eating ingredient that’s on the supermarket top shelf. That’s if you’ve managed to get to the supermarket a) you’ve got the ability and means to be independent b) you have someone to go with you to be able to help you carry shopping bags and reach things c) you’re having a rough week and don’t fancy taking on the stares or others crap behaviour.
Hmm – what’s a dwarf to do?
Many times life feels insurmountable. I often feel defeated, that the world is against me. It isn’t (most of the time). It’s the circumstances this life has given me and how we deal with the hand given.
5 Tips for Self-Care For People with Dwarfism
Get out of the house
Easier said than done, but I find this one lifts my mood the most, being around people. I have a few usually independent coffee shops in town where I feel safe that I go to and know I won’t gain negative attention, being a regular customer. If you have access to a car, maybe a trip to the beach or forest for a sneaky bag of chips or ice-cream, can do wonders. If you don’t, can you enlist someone who you can ask to take you out for an hour? Think about where your safe space is and then try and get there.
Do something you enjoy – pronto
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Dancing around the bedroom to cheesy 80s/90s pop (ok, I’m showing my age)? Read a good book? Have a hobby you can pick up? Watch a favourite movie.
Distraction is a wonderful tool and gives your brain time to switch off and not spend time ruminating on the hard stuff that’s happened through the day. Taking your mind off the day’s trials and tribulations can give your whirring mind, and you, a much-needed break. Making it something you really enjoy gives you something to look forward to and makes the distraction more welcoming.
Seriously, ask yourself are you getting enough sleep? Our bodies have to work two, three, four times as hard to do what average-height people can do in a heartbeat, and let’s be honest, it is exhausting. Sleep and proper rest do wonders to recharge my energy levels. When I take my own advice, I feel more refreshed and ready to handle the day.
Talk to someone you trust
The stuff that goes with being a dwarf is hard. It’s exhausting. There’s the health side of things. There is so much unrecognised social ignorance to deal with from the well-meaning to the outright rude. Talk to a family, friend or partner you trust. Someone you know will listen without judgement or dismissing what you have to say. Don’t bottle your emotions.
That said, if you’re nearest and dearest are having a hard time talking about and helping you deal with what you are going through, find groups online or join one of the many charities and make connections with those of us going through similar experiences. It helps with the loneliness.
Sometimes, ok, a lot of the time, it can all seem too much. If you find yourself going over things often and find yourself feeling stuck and down, don’t be afraid to consider counselling. We carry around a lot of issues from others, let alone our own life experiences. At times, it is necessary to talk to a professional help you figure out which issues are yours and what are the others. The process helps you figure out what issues you can put down and others that may need looking at more. If you do go down the counselling route, make sure that you ask for a counsellor who is trained and has experience in counselling people with disabilities.
Inspiration or Have a LAUGH
There are probably many days it may feel like nothing works. At times like this, I have to remember not to be hard on myself and give myself a break. I open Spotify and have a bedroom disco. Ok, I’m waving my arms about while resting on the bed. However, hearing some good tunes have brought me back from the abyss time and again.
Below are some suggestions of where you can find inspiration or have a good giggle:
- TED talks – there’s plenty of fantastic talks on every subject available,
- Books – autobiographies are a good start. Reading about other peoples’ challenges helps to reframe and put your own struggles into perspective. Personally, it helps makes me realise I’m not the only who has struggled.
- Comedy – who is your favourite comedian? Go find a sketch of them on YouTube.
- Songs – whichever way you consume your music – create a playlist that always manages to get your feet tapping.
Your tips for self-care as a person with dwarfism?
Thankfully there’s not a scented candle, mention of a hot bath or a positive affirmation in these list of tips on self-care for people with dwarfism, more practical solutions to decompress from difficult situations and issues. Personally, all 5 tips have all helped me at some point in my life, building resilience and kindness towards myself in a most challenging world. What about you? What self-care tips do you have as a person with dwarfism? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below.
1. Writing. Blogging, journaling, finding a facebook group or message board, writing a poem, whatever. For those moments when you don’t want to bother a friend and can’t get to counseling at 2 AM. You don’t have to be a good writer, though I see you are and I like to think I am. Seriously, just typing out your thoughts and feelings, reading it back or saying it outright. I find it feels great, and helps untangle the spiderweb. 2. Acknowledging the obvious. Lately, I have realized the simple fact that, the first step to self-care is realizing you need it. After that, it doesn’t matter if you’re putting on music, going to sleep, taking a walk or getting a therapist, the point is you’re doing something about your needs.
–There you go, my two cents, literally.
Great tips, Ashley. Thank you for your contribution 🙂