Autopilot, Anxiety, and Apple Cider Vinegar

I attended the Women's March on Washington's sister march in London this past weekend. It was a thrilling, affirming, and tricky experience for a number of reasons, and while I felt great about being proactive in marching for ideas and rights I believe need protecting, emotionally and physically I was verging on spent.

It was also very cold in London that day, and had been all week, so my skin and hair, both prone to dryness, were suffering. That plus being something of a tennis ball bouncing back and forth between being overwhelmed and being anxious, I wanted to extend some kindness to myself. So I've put the following steps in place for, at the very least:
    • One act of self-pampering every weekend
    • Daily Meditations
I have being doing the daily meditation through Headspace, who are wonderful, and I'll talk about that more in depth at another time. Self-pampering, however, is the important part.

I had decided that after a long day of marching for the rights of those who are going to have them obstructed over the next four years, I was going to treat myself to a long, warm bath, and a hair and face mask. This mask is made using water, Aztec Healing Clay, and Apple Cider Vinegar all mixed into a paste (you can also try using just acv if you have a lot of trouble with acne and oily skin, but that can be too harsh and drying for someone like myself so I added a bit of water).

I was thinking about this self-care I had promised myself in the week leading up to the march, pre-planning my evening, deciding on all the things I needed to, you know, truly relax. There was just one problem:

I could not find ACV anywhere.

Apple Cider Vinegar
"Apple Cider Vinegar" by Rose Ottley via Flickr
The one mystical ingredient, the one true key to my relaxation had been snatched from my grasp by the winds of chance!

That's not true at all, actually. I knew where to get it, but it was out of my way and any shop I went to that was on my way to/from work didn't have it. I could have made the ( very short) journey, but when the time came after work I was so tired that I just went home, and in my mind that was the only possible time I could have ever gone to the shops.

"That's ridiculous," I hear you say. "You could have just gone back out once you rested a bit. Or used Amazon, or just done something else for self-care that evening if you didn't want to inconvenience yourself."

 But no, none of those things happened because of my anxiety and its constant preoccupation with time. I'm always very early or very late for things, do things too far in advance and inconvenience myself, or work myself out of doing them all together, because I can't let time run out, and if time is about to run out them I just let it happen and beat myself up afterwards. So, because I had been feeling so run down, the energy I use to ward off panic gets put into my "let's get myself through this week" autopilot, and so I leave space for my mental illness to get the best of me.

On my way home after the march I was exhausted, and had failed in securing some ACV for that evening, but the winds of fulfilment had filled my sails and I was awake again, aware that I had been moving on autopilot for the past five days. So, on the bus home, I took a moment to turn it off and practice the mindfulness I talk about so much. I meditated whilst listening to my music. Just focusing on the sounds, the feelings in my body, and my own breathing. Do you know what happened then?

I missed my bus stop.

But, I so happened to notice this as the bus pulled up in front of the supermarket I had been avoiding all week. If that wasn't a sign, I don't know what is! So I went in and grabbed my ACV, and I had a very nice evening, actually, remembering to focus on building my energy back up so as not to let myself get so drained again.

The following Monday, I ended up having a conversation with a customer at work in which he brought up some of the health benefits of ACV he had discovered.

I had to laugh, because it seemed it had benefited my health in a way, too.

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