I don’t believe that I am original in my drive and determination, in fact, I was raised with and am surrounded by women with the same ideals and challenges. Many of these women have risen to extraordinary heights in the face of adversity and a culture that still values the work of men at a higher pay-rate than women. It is because of this determination, this drive of our generation, that so many of us are burning out. It is completely understandable and yet tragic that so many women are working harder, longer, and with more responsibilities as wives, parents, daughters, employees, or CEO’s than our parents before us still don’t feel like we are measuring up to the women before us that paved the way for our successes.
All of this possibility for women of today, being raised with the work ethic and family values that I was is at the same time thrilling and exhausting. Not measuring up to our internal sense of success is not only unacceptable, but it is also unattainable.
From the perspective of a mother during the Covid pandemic, I can vouch for the feeling of overwhelm, to the point of burnout, but powering through regardless because of the expectations I have learned to put on myself and the financial responsibility I feel for my family.. After the anxiety goes on long enough, it turns into physical ailments, heart palpitations, panic attacks, and iron deficiency (at least in my case).
I’ve had to take a long hard look at my life, what “success” actually means to me, and what I am willing to give up to achieve that success because although I believe that I, we, all women, can have ANYTHING we want… we can’t always have EVERYTHING we want. There are only so many hours in the day, and neglecting ourselves will only make everything we really care about suffer.
Other than our families, loved ones, and values when it comes to society, part of every woman’s idea of success should be their own happiness and health. This means that self-care, in whatever form it takes needs to be a priority in our lives.
I know… this is a REALLY easy aspiration to have, but an even easier goal to let pass by the wayside when something more important comes up. I have even had others around me judge me negatively because I showed up to work late after attending a mothers-day event at my son’s school. Nevermind the fact that I was doing more work than the others in my department or that I found more efficient and effective ways to work with my peers.
So I get it. Actually making the time for yourself when society, the way you were raised, the judgement from family, friends and your colleagues may tell you otherwise, is in a word… improbable.
But think of the alternative.
Losing your life to work. Not spending the time with your friend who needs you. Not breathing the early morning air on your daily run. Not doing that yoga and losing your flexibility.
What is the result if you DONT make self-care a priority in your life?
I beg of you (and myself), to find something every day to do for yourself that is enjoyable and helps make you a better person. Make your self-care valuable to everyone you serve, spend time around and work with, and it will be that much easier to do.
This is a list of things that I have tried myself, or is on my mind to learn to do in the next year that would classify in my book as “self-care”
- Running or cardio exercise of some sort.
- Yoga or some stretching exercise
- Mindset coaching
- Playing Piano / Singing
- Going on a walk
- Calling a girlfriend
- Getting a massage
- Reading a book
- Creating a healthy menu or eating healthy foods.
Notice everything on that list has either a health benefit, or a brain benefit or both.
Self-care doesn’t mean self-indulgence. It is what you can do for yourself that will build a better tomorrow, next month or next year. It is the act of creation and healthy habit-forming that is not a self-punishment, rather an investment in your future as a whole person, not just one with the work-ethic of a saint.
“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you”.
So while your work-ethic is something the women’s liberation movement would be proud of. We need to make sure it is not just our work that is admirable, but the way we care for ourselves and hold to the parts of us that came before the businesses or your social groups and family expectations is almost more important than the rest.
If you promise to take time for your own self-care this month. I promise to be diligent about mine as well.
Now let’s kick some ass.