Bad Hair, Must Care!

I finally got my hair cut the other night, after nearly five months. Five months?! No wonder it looked so ratty and horrible. Why did I wait so long? Well, embarrassingly, due to months of sickness and extremely low to non-existent funds, I simply couldn't afford to do it. I didn't have the energy or the money--or both. But that day at the salon when I slid my glasses back onto my face and saw a refreshed and improved Angela in the mirror, I felt 100x better about myself. About everything. And I realized, once again, that I need to take more time and effort to do things for myself. Practicing regular self-care should be a mandatory part of managing my health and my life with RA.

Why is it so hard to do?

I've written before about my struggles practicing self-care and developing good habits (or any habit), knowing it's a problem and what I should be doing, yet self-care is still quite difficult for me. How hard is it to get a haircut? Or book a massage? Or sit in the backyard (or anywhere) with a book and not feel guilty that you should be doing something else? For me, it's not easy.

Although one thing that I do make a point to do on a regular basis is reading books. Reading is something that I've always loved, even before I got RA, and it fills my soul and relaxes my body in much-needed ways. I still feel guilty about it, though. RA seems to be constantly whispering (or yelling) in my ear, "You're far behind with everything. You're not doing enough. You're not working hard enough. You're a lazy, unproductive person." Shut up, RA, and let me get back to my book. Those nagging voices do not shut up easily, however.

Realizing the impact of self-care

"The Haircut Evening" had a surprisingly strong impact on me. As soon as I hopped out of the styling chair at the salon, I felt instantly lighter, more energized, and actually happier. And my pain felt better. The walk back to my car was a different experience than my hurried, painful walk to the salon. Because of terrible rush hour traffic and downtown Minneapolis being a hell for parking anyway, I was forced to park and walk several grueling blocks to get to the salon--despite using my disability permit. That was not a fun walk and my feet and ankles were throbbing and stabbing with pain by the time I got there. I even thought: Maybe I shouldn't be doing this. Is this pain, stress, and hassle worth it for a little haircut?

Yes, it was worth it. And while my walk from the salon to my car did not consist of me running or skipping along the streets like an able-bodied teenager, my much-improved mood let me actually enjoy it. A nice bonus on this beautiful sunny day was that the Thursday farmer's market was happening on Nicollet Avenue, which is a pedestrian street downtown. The sun was out, the humidity was way down, and a strong breeze blew through the street, making the vendors' white tents flap in a cheerful way. I strolled past large colorful bunches of flowers for sale, their blooms bursting from their bouquets. Bright reds, oranges, and yellows of cute little cartons of home-grown vegetables added to the lovely scene. What a beautiful summer evening, I thought.

And my hair looks great.

Was my pain magically gone? No, hardly. But did I feel better able to deal with it because I felt better about myself? Yes, I'd say so. And that is definitely worth the price of a haircut if you ask me.

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