Self-care is simply doing the basic things necessary to take proper care of oneself either physically, mentally, or emotionally. Self-care is not self-indulgent. Self-care is not “for the rich.” Self-care is not optional or supplemental. Self-care should be sincere and substantial. Self-care is courageous.
We live in a world where we are busier and more interconnected with one another than ever. We have hearts full of love and desire to help and support each other. We have access and resources to do so in an unprecedented way. We have technology that allows us to work and give without ceasing. These are great benefits to our world. Yet it seems self-care has fallen off the bus in transit from the past to the present. Given how we push ourselves to our limits, we actually need self-care now more than ever. Luckily, it is starting to make a comeback.
I was once called a workaholic. Now I would like to coin myself more of a hobbyaholic or lifeaholic; and most would complain I am a talkaholic. Ah, everything in excess. Some things never change. As a workaholic, I would gladly work a 14-hour day without taking a real lunch break and without going outside of my office. I would nibble on cashews or have a protein bar to get me through the day and try to have a balanced dinner. I would be too exhausted by the end of the day to work out. I refused to prioritize working out routinely before work because “I had to get to work.”
My mindset was proud. I was proud of my work and dedication. It seemed like a positive thing. I see now the error of my ways. Always putting work first and my needs last left me burned out, depressed, overweight, tired, and lonely. Always putting my needs on the backburner was counterproductive because it left me less passionate, overly tired and therefore less mentally effective. It often caused me unnecessary frustration and stress.
Sometimes I would go so far as to say I thought my lack of self-care showed I was tough and had endurance. It showed I could endure and not let “the rain” get in my way of getting things done. Unfortunately, when “it rained” it was torrential. I am referring to rain as a metaphor for struggles in my life and in this case, to the tragic loss of my husband. The “rain” was so unbearable that all I could manage was self-care and baby-care of our two young children. Through that “forced shutdown” of my life, I have come 180 degrees. Self-care is now a part of my every day life as important as all of my other responsibilities.
In the picture here, you can see my example of self-care. The old me would have gone out in the cold and rain without an umbrella, without a hood, without a jacket, and cursing through the muck. The new me that practices self-care has a jacket, a hood, an umbrella, a bottle of water, and a smile on my face. Ah, everything in excess. Old habits die hard. However, I have to say, I am warm, dry, hydrated and happy. What does your self-care look like?