So, let’s talk about self care.
But first, let’s let Audre Lorde talk about it: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
It’s easy to want to dismiss self-care as giving up or giving too little. But it might actually be a type of resistance.
Brianna Wiest also has something vital to say here,
“Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.
It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.
A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.
True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.
And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do.
It often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t.
It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unexceptional. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends. It is deciding how much of your anxiety comes from not actualizing your latent potential, and how much comes from the way you were being trained to think before you even knew what was happening.
If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness.
It is no longer using your hectic and unreasonable life as justification for self-sabotage in the form of liquor and procrastination. It is learning how to stop trying to “fix yourself” and start trying to take care of yourself… and maybe finding that taking care lovingly attends to a lot of the problems you were trying to fix in the first place.
It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the hell up on some goals so you can care about others. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people.
It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be. Someone who knows that salt baths and chocolate cake are ways to enjoy life – not escape from it.”
In our work, we often have to hold space for others but do we hold that same kind of space for ourselves?
The Perils of Overwork:
If you find yourself taking a perverse pride in the amount you work and you know you’re overworking, consider these thoughts. Being too busy is killing our ability to think creatively.
A couple fine quotes for you:
“Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy.” – Kierkegaard
“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; you also need to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.” – Edward Abbey
And if you’re feeling overwhelmed with too much to do, it’s time to…
Approach #1 – Get Enough Sleep:
85% of mammals nap. Why don’t we?
Napping can dramatically increase learning, memory, awareness, and more.
Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night shortens your life and demolishes your immune system.
Does your phone keep you up at night? Try this.
Approach #2 – Do What You Need To Do to De-Stress:
Most of us don’t even know how stressed we are until we get space. It’s like we’ve been carrying around a huge backpack and you forgot it was one. Once you take it off, you’re amazed at how light you feel.
Being an entrepreneur can be incredibly stressful and so here are…
20 Scientifically-Backed Ways To De-Stress Right Now
Been thinking of meditating? Studies show it’s more beneficial than taking a vacation.
“Get rid of digital distractions, e.g. the notifications, pings, pop-ups on your phone & computer, You don’t need them. In a famous study of groups of workers, one worked without distractions and the other had to also respond to occasional emails, phone calls, text messages, the second group’s measured IQ was actually *lower* than a third group which worked while *on marijuana*. #truestory. Try: one full day without distractions, answering to emails once or twice. Then extend to a week. ” – George Kao
We all know that regular exercise can dramatically lower our stress levels but did you know about the impact of walking in nature, dancing or swimming and showering in cold water? If you want to explore the core water route, I commend checking out the work of Wim Hof.
You might also want to consider regularly stretching your psoas muscle.
Approach #3 – Make Sure You Have Enough Silence in Your Life:
Along with sleep and dealing with stress, with must add this third, necessary ‘s’ of silence. Scientists are now telling us that silence is much more important to our brains than we’d thought. Quiet time is needed in this loud world. But technology can be a killer of that space and silence we need. You might just want to consider doing a digital detox. It does good things for your brain and body.
Approach #4 – De-Clutter Your Life:
One of the fastest ways out of stress, and to help keep it away, is to declutter your environment. Clutter causes anxiety and stress in eight different ways. It also doesn’t help anyone’s depression. Decluttering has immense psychological benefits.
So, here are a number of worthwhile links to explore that might inspire your decluttering efforts:
Five Ways to Declutter That Will Actually Change the World
If you’re really drawn to this, read Marie Kond?’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. or watch her Today Show appearance or read this case study about her work or these eight lessons someone learned from reading her book.
And, of course, many problems are solved by simply owning less.
Approach #5 – Find the Right Online Tools to Help You Stay Stress Free:
Having trouble focusing when on your lap top doing work? Check out Focus Mate.
Waste a lot of time scrolling through the newsfeed on Facebook? Install this app and kill the news feed.
Get too many emails from email newsletters? You might not once you install this.
Have a bunch of emails you don’t want to respond to for a while but you don’t want to delete them in case you forget? Boomerang let’s the reschedule those emails to vanish and reappear whenever you want.
Most people’s Gmail accounts are visually overwhelming. But if you install Priority Inbox you might be amazed at the instant relief it gives you.
Approach #6 – Get The Help You Need:
A while ago, I wrote a blog post called Getting Unstuck: The Five Minute Favour Asking Blitz. It’s a simple idea: pick somewhere you are stuck. Set a timer for five minute. Don’t stop asking for help until that timer goes off. This, of course, brings up a lot of issues for people around asking for help. Amanda Palmer has some words for you on this. And Mark Silver makes the very astute point that we must ask for help before we hit zero and totally crater in a firey burnout. Heidi Grant breaks down the science of asking for help and why our instincts around how much help to ask for are usually way off (people want to help us much more than we imagine).
Of course, calling in favours will only get you so far. At some point, you may need to hire administrative help for your business. Mark Silver has some good thoughts on this.
Note: If you could use a boost to get yourself to actually do these things, consider joining my 30-Day Cashflow Challenge, The Meantime. In it, you’ll not only learn over 30 of my best, tried and proven tactics to bring in money quickly but where you’ll also be guided to create more space in your life and deepen your self care.