Shave your legs…

Recently I had the privilege of being invited to assist in training the staff of paws4people Foundation on developing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan and some aspects of how to provide Peer Support.

For someone who considers themselves healthy and happy developing a WRAP can be challenging because they often times don’t see the need for it. For those who’ve been struggling with mental health or addiction challenges developing a WRAP is difficult because they have trouble remembering what it was like to be well and how they got that way. Then there are the people in between those two extremes. Sometimes it’s because they’re always taking care of someone else, they’re just extremely busy, and sometimes they’ve just never thought about it. As a Peer those who are in between are often the most rewarding because there is a real opportunity to help them improve and a huge opportunity to learn from them. This is the experience I had over the last two days.

As we were discussing various aspects of Self Care and the Wellness Toolbox one of the participants brought up taking a hot bath and shaving her legs and how it made her feel like a new woman. The women in the room smiled and nodded while the men either stared blankly or acknowledged her feelings with a grunt or casual nod.

Now throughout our two days of sharing and learning I brought up several times the importance of basic hygiene and how in many cases it’s the first sign that someone is overwhelmed or struggling. When you’re so busy that you skip a shower or forget the basics like brushing your teeth or your scale of what’s too dirty to wear changes because you just don’t have enough time or energy to do laundry. Or, when you just don’t care enough to do it.

Have you ever seen someone at the grocery store and you can tell their hair is in desperate need of being washed just by looking at it? Have you seen someone and looked at their clothes and asked yourself how they could go out wearing something that dirty? Have you ever thought how could someone do that to themselves or thought something derogatory about them? Maybe we should ask ourselves something different. Maybe we should be asking ourselves what that person is struggling with or if they have anyone to help them. Maybe we should be a little more empathetic towards humanity.

Those basic things are often the first to go when we aren’t doing well. We don’t just drop the things we enjoy, we drop the things we need and have to do to stay well.

As we moved along through the different sections of the WRAP we discussed what you can do when things are getting worse and breaking down. The same woman spoke up and said that when such and such is going on the first thing she does once she realizes it is to get into a hot bath and shave her legs. This time she went beyond just telling us the action, she explained to us how it made her feel. She described things like feeling like a new woman, feeling fresh, feeling clean, feeling reinvigorated and calm, feeling like she had more energy and a newer perspective on what has been happening. The way she described it resonated with everyone in the group, myself included.

It makes you think about what you can do that makes you feel like a new person, even for a moment. For me it’s a hot shower and a freshly shaved head. For some it may be how they feel after a long walk or after a yoga class. For others it may be how they feel after fishing or playing with their dogs or a cup of coffee. The list is endless. The tricky part is finding what works for you.

The bottom line is this…

Sometimes we need a hot bath and to shave our legs.

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