“Self-care. It’s a word we hear all the time these days. We think we know what it looks like: getting our hair done, getting a pedicure, reading a book before bed, having brunch with our girlfriends, taking that ever-elusive nap! We are promised that self-care is the answer to our stressful and busy lives. We are told we need to take time for ourselves in order to survive and thrive in a world that is pulling us in a hundred different directions. We are promised that if we do these activities—get the exercise, go for the walk, have the mimosa—we can continue to fuel the busy lives we lead. …
As I began to unpack a lifetime of beliefs, decisions, and habits that had gotten me to this place [burnout], I wondered why all that self-care hadn’t worked. Wasn’t self-care supposed to relieve all my stress and recharge my batteries giving me the energy to tackle another day? Shouldn’t those dance classes I was taking have helped me avoid burnout? Why hadn’t those hour-long manicures de-stressed me enough to survive my life? If self-care was the answer we were all promised, why hadn’t it worked for me?”
In this excerpt from my book, Enough Already, I confess my confusion as to how I was “doing” all the self-care things yet still found my way to total and utter burnout. The short answer (shared as the story continues) is because I, like so many others, had the idea of self-care so backwards. We believe if we put self-care on our To Do list and check those items off our list, we will be fine. But the truth of self-care is so much bigger. It was a hard road that led me to understand what self-care really was and how crucial it was to my success professionally and my happiness personally. But now upon seeing self-care more clearly, it’s impossible to go back.
“Self-care isn’t an activity; it’s a belief that you are worthy of taking care of yourself.
In fact, it’s the giant responsibility of caring for the body, soul, and mind that guide us around this one life: these precious days, months, and years that we have been given. True and meaningful self-care stems from the belief that we are worthy of both being cared for by others and even more importantly, caring for ourselves. For me, it’s been moving self-care away from a task to complete and into making self-care a mindset. That I need and deserve a refresh, a rest, a time-out a few minutes to let go of the weight of the world and just be. Self-care was a piece to the puzzle, just not the way I had been doing it.” (more from Enough Already)
Misunderstanding what self-care truly is wasn’t the only thing that led to my burnout, but it certainly played a role. As we round out our focus on self-care for the month, I urge you to consider if self-care is something you are truly engaging in, leaving you recharged, energized and truly cared for, or if it’s simply a To Do list item that ultimately leaves you more drained, stressed and exhausted than you were before. If you find it to be the latter, I urge to make the same mentality switch I did and find ways to truly care for yourself.