Self-care. Easier said than done. It's an idea that is put out into the world a lot. Especially to women. When was the last time you heard a man talking about self-care? When was the last time you suggested to a man he engage in some self-care? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Here's the secret about self-care. Those who strongly suggest we engage in it, don't really do it, and probably beat themselves up as much, if not more then we do about not doing it.
All my years spent working toward my psychotherapy license, in practice, going to conferences, networking with colleagues, I can say with all honesty, I have ONE friend who actually engages in self-care as it is meant to be experienced. She meditates for at least 1 hour everyday. She wins. Forever.
Self-care is kind of like that whole getting in shape, going to the gym thing. Somehow we think working out needs to be that 1 hour cardio class. Should it be, hells yeah, but sometimes we only have time for a quick walk. Sigh. The problem is we don't take that quick walk because we can't let go of the idea that working out involves a,b, and c. When really that quick walk around the block is better than nothing, right?
The truth is I'm just as bad at self-care as everyone else. Most of us have too much on our plate, take on way more than we can handle, and are in over our heads. That's life. I've always been one to be pretty happy with the water right below my chin in a fast and ferocious doggy paddle to the shore. I like being thrown in the shark tank and I almost always sign up for more than I bargained for. I have come to realize (three years of psychoanalysis helped) that I am this way and I plan accordingly. Self-care for me, if there is such a thing, comes in small dribs and drabs. It works for me, and guess what, that's okay! The picture below is a perfect example of what we have been sold about self-care. Yeah right, I have time to soak my feet in rose petals! Give me a break. Let's kill that myth.
I tell my business consultation clients that the relationship they have with their business is like a marriage. The decisions they make and the boundaries they establish with their business is just that. Their relationship. Some decisions will be universally workable, others will be comfortable just to them. We all have different boundaries and comfort levels. Find yours with your business and know that it is just that, your own damn business. Whether your self-care is a 5 minute walk around the block once a day, listening to Iron Maiden on Muni, going to Brazilian dance class, fixing up a classic car, or simply taking a long hot shower before bed, that's all it needs to be. Let go of the idea that self-care involves a set of established boundaries that we all follow and involves a long and impossible amount of time and energy. Will you get to that 2 hour yoga class marathon? Probably not. Stop feeling bad about it now and do something teeny tiny for yourself. Let's start small pleeeeeease.
Sometimes all the self-care we have time for is a quick walk outside to see the light of day. My suggestion is that we all stop adding this unrealistic idea of self-care to the long list of things we need to accomplish and stop letting it make us feel inadequate.
Do we need time to ourselves, yes! Burn out is real. Trust me. And should be avoided at all costs. And it can be. My suggestion is let's turn self-care into something we can actually engage in. Try this- tomorrow keep a running list of all the little things you do just for you. Yeah they might be really really little. Mine would start with taking time to use the Sonicare toothbrush instead of the old fashioned kind. It totally makes me happy, takes 2 minutes, literally, and makes my mouth feel great the rest of the day. Other things that will go on my list:
Emailing a FRIEND
Starting work on a new design - yes it's work related but works for me
I will probably accomplish maybe 1 or 2 of those. Hey, that's a great day.
Here's the important stuff to remember...Self-care is just that, for yourself. Whatever that looks like and however that happens is good enough. When it's not you will know, add more. But let's start with 5 minutes at a time. The important part is starting and feeling good about it. Are you with me?