This post is part of the series Lessons from My First Tattoo
Other posts in this series:
- What My First Tattoo Taught Me About Self-Care, Part 0: A Self-Care Primer
- What My First Tattoo Taught Me About Self-Care, Part 1: Have A Plan
- What My First Tattoo Taught Me About Self-Care, Part 2: Take It Slow (Current)
A tattoo is basically a focused burn wound. It needs to be treated as such, especially at first. Like burns, you need to go slow, and minimize the amount of rubbing and scratching no matter how much it itches or stings. The same goes for self-care.
The familiar saying goes like this: everything in moderation. This is especially true with self-care. This is because your self-care routine can easily become a crutch. With my tattoo, I was instructed to use Aquaphor, a healing ointment, but only in very small amounts. The wound still needed to breathe as part of the healing process. Lathering it with goop was actually counter-productive.
As you develop your self-care routine, take it slow. Don’t try to fix everything in one night. All too often, especially in the tech industry, I’ve watched people try self-care by having a drink. And then another. And another. They’re not alcoholics, but all too often drinking their cares away is both their default and only stress reliever. There’s nothing wrong with going out every once in awhile. Really. But if you need to get drunk to forget your problems for a night, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Don’t Rush The Process
Another big part of the initial healing process for my tattoo was cleaning it every few hours. I had to use an unscented soap, Dial Gold was recommended, but instead of the usual washcloth or loofah, I was to use my fingertips. Remember, we’re dealing with what is essentially a burn. This ended up being a form of self-care stress relief for me during the process because I had to slow down and focus on not causing myself any unnecessary pain. Washing my tattoo had a very calming effect on me, and it came at a very stressful time in my life. But if I’d rushed the process, that would have never happened.
Whatever it is that helps you calm down and shrug off the stress in your life, take it slow. You don’t want to overdo it, because you’ll end up causing yourself more stress in the long run. Yes, your problems will still be there when you’re done with that short walk or that one drink, but they won’t feel as overwhelming. And that’s the point of self-care.