Self-care – it’s a bit of a ‘buzz’ word. Everyone is telling us we need more of it – can’t pour from an empty cup and all that. But it’s harder than it sounds! It’s so much more than pedicures and massages (don’t get me wrong – these are great!), but it’s actually about scheduling in regular time for YOU.
As a mum, dad, daughter, son, business owner, partner, colleague, volunteer, retiree…whatever combination it may be for you, there are some common conversations we have with ourselves when it comes to self-care:
#1 “I don’t have time for this self-care business” and
#2 “How can I even justify putting me first when so many others need my help?”
Newsflash! It is exactly these thought patterns and belief systems that get us into trouble in the first place, leading to burnout and fatigue, that ironically means we can’t help anyone, despite the best of our intentions.
We can’t truly understand self-care without first providing context and explaining this concept of ‘burnout’. Burnout, another popular saying, especially in the corporate sector, can be a term thrown around the office or home flippantly – but it is a real thing.
It is now recognised officially by the World Health Organisation, so it is about time we took it seriously! Here are some burnout signs:
- Feeling tired all the time?
- Lacking motivation where you were once so driven?
- Struggling to find joy in the everyday?
- Not sleeping and mind racing?
- Gaining weight, health niggles starting to surface mixed with a good splash of coffee and sugar cravings?
- Moods that mean you answer every question with your middle finger?
- You just know that you are not feeling like your best self.
Welcome to the world of burnout!
But how did we even get here? We have relentless schedules and can’t say no. Or we dread the thought that we might have a spare 5 minutes of unscheduled time in a day where we can allow ourselves to sit down and have a cup of tea. God forbid – we might fall asleep in the chair, or even worse, breathe! Guilt and ‘shoulds’ (“I should be more”, “I should do more”, “I should do better” – I know you hear me) are our closest friends. But let’s face it, it’s really nice to have some friends because our relentless schedule doesn’t allow for any real-life catch-ups. Most of all, we are reluctant to admit we’re struggling – because vulnerability is the enemy! But the reality is, as humans, we are not made for this, and burnout is the inevitable consequence.
Self-care is not a luxury – scrap that! It’s an essential practice, critical in being able to serve those we love and care for in the best way we can. It’s about taking a pause, making an appointment with yourself, and discovering the little acts of self-care that work for you in each day, in each moment. It is these daily intentional acts that have such a profound impact on our health and wellness – mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Ultimately, it’s about knowing what works for you, scheduling it in, and then making a commitment to making it happen. I’ll repeat – MAKING A COMMITMENT to yourself! Is it about going to bed a bit earlier because those hours before midnight are the most restorative? Is it about moving your body each day? Is it about having an extra glass of water? Is it about eating less out of a packet and enjoying some ‘real’ food? Is it about challenging those negative thoughts and perfectionist tendencies that keep us on the hamster wheel of burnout? Is it about breaking up with the ‘guilt’ of ‘I should be everything to everyone’ and stopping to connect with a friend in real life? Is it actually about accepting the care of others – because we need to receive support to give support?
Your self-care challenge right now – write down a list of what brings you joy and schedule one thing in. We all know, if it’s not in the diary, it doesn’t happen so get out your calendars! Be kind to yourself so you can be well enough to be kind to the world. Live your best life.