You read that right.
This week’s self-care talk is about spooning.
I like a good cuddle in bed as much as the next chick, but I’m actually referring to a different kind of spoon here. I was talking a couple weeks ago with a good friend of mine who has also dealt with depression in her life, and she asked me if I’d heard of the Spoon Theory. I hadn’t, but a quick Google search told me everything I needed to know, and DAMN, it hit the nail on the head. I’d been mulling it over in my mind ever since then, so when it came up on Jordan Younger’s Balanced Blonde podcast last night I took it as a sign. Scrap the previous plans; this Friday’s post is all about spoons!
If you haven’t heard of the Spoon Theory, not to worry. It’s basically a metaphor for what it’s like to live with a disability or chronic illness of some sort. The idea is that each person starts the day off with a certain number of spoons (which represent how much energy a person has), and will lose a spoon (or two or three) for each activity they choose to spend their energy on throughout the day. It’s a way of showing how people living with illness often have to strategically plan out their spoon spending every single day so as not to run out of energy and crash.
For healthy people (and those living without mental illness), spoon conserving is not usually something that one has to worry about in any given day. You’ve basically got an endless supply of spoons, and you get your spoons back at the end of the day while you’re sleeping. You’ve got spoons to give here and spoons to throw away there, and it’s wonderful! Really. However, for those living with illness, the conservation of spoons is a very real dilemma, and everyday tasks often cost more spoons than they would for healthy folks. For example, for a person really struggling with depression, even the seemingly simple task of getting dressed in the morning can cost two spoons. Making it out of the house could cost another three, making small talk at the office might be five spoons, and then before you know it, you’re down to two spoons for the rest of the day.
Not only is the Spoon Theory helpful in explaining why those with chronic illness must be so careful about where they spend their energy, but it’s a great metaphor for reminding ourselves of the very same thing. I woke up with an anxiety attack the other morning, and the simple act of putting on clothes, walking to the bus stop, and taking the bus into Tel Aviv would have completely wiped out all my spoons for the better part of the day. But, recognizing this and respecting myself enough to conserve my spoon supply gave me the firmness of mind that I needed to call my boss and explain my situation to her. She was understanding, I went back to bed for a bit, and I woke up feeling better. By that time, the cost of my commute had come down to only a spoon or two.
So, this weekend, let’s work on being aware and respectful of our spoons. If something feels overwhelming or if you’re feeling low on energy, ask yourself how many spoons you have left. Be okay with that number. Don’t be afraid to say no when you need to.
Master the art of spooning: conserve your spoons!