Self Care Shouldn’t Be A Reward…. But Should Be Routine…
Hello my name Is Benjamin, and I am an
exhausted advocate and social worker. Have a seat next to the hundreds of thousands of people like us who are burned out.
Chances are you’re overwhelmed at
life work. You have a ton of projects piling up at home, and your calendar is packed with overdue tasks. To make room for all of this stuff, you skip lunch, stop going to the gym, and forget about your social life entirely. When we’re stressed, self care is usually the first thing to go. And that only makes things worse.
Take the ongoing battle for human rights, for instance, since we may have a long one ahead of us. In the months and years ahead, we will need to protest unjust policies, defend the vulnerable, donate time and money to Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood, and support politicians and legislation and organizations that promote the common good. But if we neglect ourselves, how will we do any of that? How will we possibly help?
Self-care is not as easy as it sounds. It’s not just painting your toenails when you’re having a rough day. In her book From Coping to Thriving: How to Turn Self-Care Into A Way of Life, author Hannah Braime defines self-care as “behaviors that serve our emotional and physical health over the short-term and the long-term.” I would add that it also means reckoning honestly with yourself.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is an essential social work survival skill. Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being. Self-care is necessary for your effectiveness and success in honoring your professional and personal commitments.
“Just like you do on a plane, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first before trying to help others.” –Dean Nancy Smyth
Taking care of yourself is not actually a new thing, nor is the idea that you may sometimes need to be reminded to do so. Just think of all the people on makeover-shows past who were told, “You spend so much time taking care of other people, it’s time to do something *for yourself.”
Self Care Isn’t Just Important, It’s Crucial
Kristin Wong from LifeHacker wrote some amazing tips to really make self-care effortless. She says,
It’s easy to neglect taking care of ourselves because when we’re busy and overwhelmed, even a small reprieve feels like a luxury. So actually taking time to eat lunch, exercise, and hang out with friends? That just feels like slacking.
That mindset backfires, though. Self care actually helps you make progress faster for a few reasons:
Self care prevents “overload burnout”: We’ve all been there: you push yourself to the point that you can’t take anymore so you just give up. Self care helps you avoid getting to that point.
Self care reduces the negative effects of stress: A small amount of stress can serve a purpose, but after a while, it just breaks down your mind and body. Taking care of yourself means keeping your stress from taking over so you can function at full capacity.
Self care helps you refocus: When I was stuck on a complicated math problem in school, my teacher would suggest walking away and coming back—taking a break, basically. Breaks are the epitome of self care, and studies show they’re great for helping you perform better.
Remember, by being your best self you’re able to share those beautiful feelings with those around you. Search for the good, share your peace, and watch the positivity grow.