Life is very hard and recently those unavoidable stressors have taken the toll of the century on my body and mind. I’m sure we all experience the physical and emotional fatigue that accompanies working life. I’m sure everyone struggles at one point or another with developing the perfect work-life balance. But what do we do when it becomes just too much?
I myself am trying my hardest to unplug and put myself and my health before my job. I struggle endlessly because my own expectations and the expectations set due to my work ethic and performance are sometimes unattainable and unrealistic. Yet, they plague my psyche in a way I’ve learned is toxic and unmanageable. You probably have seen these countless articles about “Millennial Burnout” and the various ways it is impacting my generation (and likely other generations in today’s workforce). There’s an expectation to work, work, work, but the fact is one cannot work, work, work if they are compromised physically, mentally and emotionally. “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” someone once said.
The remedy? “Self care.” This elusive, vague cure doesn’t always have the best connotation, nor is it really defined by a prescribed regimen. Everyone is different, thus everyone’s idea of self care is different. However, your version of self care might just save you from the world of prescribed medication and harmful coping mechanisms.
Here are the self care items that work for me:
Going to the gym
I used to hate it when people would suggest going for a run to remedy sadness, but damn it, they were right. While it’s not the easiest order for people going through serious depression, going to the gym and/or exercising the way YOU like to exercise is important. I prefer going to classes because I’m held accountable for at least an hour of physical activity. Plus, once you find the exercise you like best, it’s actually FUN! I like to channel my nervous energy or my anger into Zumba, or find a little peace in a yoga class.
Working out the ol’ brain
Yes, sometimes I’m drained and love nothing more than binge watching a series of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but that sometimes puts me into a couch potato routine. I recently joined an orchestra and reignited my love for the viola. Give reading, Podcasts or crossword puzzles a try to exercise your ~mind~.
Keeping the creativity flowing
Not everyone has a creative job. Not every creative job is creatively fulfilling for that employee. While my job is creative, it’s not nearly as fulfilling as personal expression. I like to keep my creativity going with blog posts (hi) and small, manageable art projects like collages and decorating.
I’m using the word “pamper” lightly here. When I’m stressed I tend to forget to take care of myself in the most basic ways. My skin will break out and I’ll fall into the routine of wearing a boring outfit every day. The cure? An inexpensive face mask, a meal I’m proud of and an outfit that makes me feel beautiful. Let’s not ignore the fact that feeling good on the outside makes you feel good on the inside too. Find your beauty on your own terms.
Understanding yourself and your needs is hard. Asking for help is hard. I’ve been pretty conditioned to ignore my body when I’m weak instead of listen to it, and that’s when I push myself too far and get sick. I recently have been having trouble sleeping and feeling very anxious at night. I know from past experiences that when I’m not sleeping, it means the issue is only getting worse. This week I listened to my body and bought a weighted blanket after hearing nothing but good things. The blanket not only helps me sleep, but instantly makes me feel less anxious. Sure, I feel like one of those dogs wearing a “nervous” vest, but I needed to give in to myself, be gentle with my body and allow myself to accept a little help.
Some people see self care in watching their favorite show. Some people see self care in going on an overdue vacation. Self care means a lot of things, but at it’s core it’s being good to yourself in only the most beneficial and supportive ways.
*Of course, self care alone cannot help addiction or serious mental illness. Please consult websites like these for addiction hotlines in your area, and always feel empowered to seek help when you need it most.
**Photo of nervous dog is not mine. Just a friend from Google.