Self-Care is not selfish. It is not an indulgence or luxury. I posit that it is actually self preservation.
It is not something to be “fit in” or it will far too easily be squeezed out.
Self-care is more than a periodic manicure or massage. (This was true long before quarantine constraints closed shop doors.)
It is deeper and wider.
Self-care is about choice. It is about consistency. It involves intentional micro- and macro- decisions about your hours, your days, your life.
We live in a culture where the term “self-care” is tossed around frequently. It’s popular, praised, and widely promoted but seldom actually practiced.
- Saying no to yourself
- Saying no to others
- Arranging your desk in a way that is not chaotic
- Flossing your teeth
- Sleeping on freshly washed sheets
- Developing a strengthened capacity for delayed gratification
- Making a spending and saving plan for your money
- Following aforementioned spending and saving plan for your money
- Protecting time on your schedule for regular physical activity on a regular basis
- Going to therapy
- Hitting the snooze button
- Not hitting the snooze button
- Declaring rather than hesitantly hedging
- Drinking more water
- Making your bed
- Organizing your desktop
- Ordering takeout when you are short on time
- Going for a walk listening to your favorite podcast
- Making nutritional choices that your future self with thank you for
- Breaking-up with toxic friends
- Re-breaking up in your mind and social media feed with old, unhealthy exes
- Unfollowing accounts that stir jealousy and self-loathing
- Walking away from the person who is threatened by your success
- Taking your medication as prescribed
- Storing your keys in the same place each time you come inside so you know where to find them in the morning
- Planning for your financial future
- Not looking at your likes, shares, retweets, and hearts all.day.long
- Stowing your phone out of sight for prolonged periods of time
- Preparing the night before so that you aren’t rushing out the door
- Putting yourself to bed earlier
- Negotiating your salary with bold confidence
- Making a scary job or career pivot
- Reducing the number of times you start a sentence: “I should. . . “
- Giving yourself permission to decline invitations to places you don’t actually want to go, can’t afford, with people you don’t really care that much about anyway
- Raising your fee
- Raising your hand
- Respectfully declining, without excuse or apology
- Calling a friend
- Calling in a favor
- Not inviting the world into your bed with you at night through your phone
- Going to Target for 30 minutes. All.by.yourself.
- Saying yes to something that is a little bit scary but holds tremendous opportunity
- Practicing mindfulness for five minutes, five days a week (you have five minutes)
- Not feeling obliged to immediately respond to a text or email
- Having a bold conversation with your boss
- Asking for help
- Living your vacation days instead of cashing them out
- Putting a hard stop to your procrastination
- Paying your bills on time
- Responding honestly when someone asks, “How are you?”
- Giving yourself permission to “not be okay”
- Listening to your favorite podcast while taking a walk in the sunshine
- Being less afraid of hearing “no” and asking anyway
- Investing in yourself by learning a new skill
- Refusing to sidestep a difficult conversation
We exist in a cultural milieu where burnout runs rampant. We talk about it. A lot. We act and realign in response far less often, despite self-care being a frequently cited antidote to the plight.
Again and again, people hear the alarm, smell and even begin to choke on the smoke, but elect to sit in the fire. The fire becomes familiar. Grabbing the extinguisher is deemed “too much work” if it is “too far away.” Escaping through a window is analyzed to be too risky of a move. Passively acclimating to the heat of feverish temperatures is dangerous. Here’s the thing: if you sit in the fire, you are guaranteeing your future is a pile of ashes. There is no strapping, strong fireman speeding to you sounding a siren so he can climb up a shiny ladder. No one else can rescue you. You must have the courage and summon the strength to save yourself.
Truly banishing burnout will take more than a ten-day vacation to the Caribbean. More than varnish on your ten toes. Extinguishing burnout requires something beyond the occasional sweet heaven of a sixty minute massage.
Truly caring differently for one’s self calls upon us to make life choices with courage. It requires commitment. Strategize and enlist support. When it comes to meaningful change, accountability is your ally.
What is going to be incinerated in your life if you don’t start to do something different today?
For you. For your today. For all of your tomorrows.