I’ll preface this by saying it’s important to be proud of yourself. You should tell your people when you get a raise and celebrate a gain on that gender pay gap. Be honest about where you’re crushing life - maybe you’ve got a solid gym routine or get bi-monthly massages or manage regular date nights with your partner or have a standing date to hang out with your best friends once a month. Be proud! Brag, go for it.
A few years ago I was all in for this self-care extravaganza being shouted all over the internets. I still am. We should take care of ourselves and do our best to bypass burnout. But not at the expense of living. My abundance of time that I filed under the heading “self-care” was a convenient excuse to tip into isolation, which is a cliff I am often drifting dangerously close to the edge of anyways. Now I had an acceptable explanation. “It’s self-care” sounds better than, “I’m being swallowed by a black hole of fear and anxiety.”
Kind of like “mama needs her wine” has become an acceptable way of saying you’re well on your way to a drinking problem or at the very least having trouble coping with life. There are t-shirts therefore it is OK.
Once I spent an embarrassing amount of time - daylight hours - binge watching the first 5 seasons of Scandal on Netflix. I watched so much of it I was having dreams about being a gladiator nearly every night. Taking care of myself or checking out of my life?
I said no to invites to spend time with friends saying I was tired. I noted I wasn’t so tired I needed to sleep, I was mostly lethargic because I was languishing my day away avoiding things because I was taking care of myself.
The thing is, taking care of myself sometimes means I say no to an invite and sometimes I watch TV and I make sure I’m getting enough sleep. It also means I’m connecting with people, I’m being of service in the world, I’m challenging myself to show up because I know the part of me that is looking for an excuse to hide. Part of me wants to spend the night dancing at a club - not every night, but sometimes. Part of me wants to do something scary like write a bunch of words and put them out into the world in a real way (not a flowery social media post). Part of me absolutely loves being off social media and replacing it with talking to actual people. I like meal planning and I like grabbing a pizza at the last minute. I like going to the gym and I like to dance alone in my room. I like to go to bed at 8:30 and I like to stay up around a campfire laughing with my friends.
Taking care of yourself is not a formula - at least it’s not one size fits all. It’s unique to you, to where you are, to what you need and it changes. Right now I’m really tired so I’m going to bed early. Sometimes I’m so inspired and excited by something that I stay up working on it. I like to think that as long as I’m checking in with myself, I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. There are seasons of busyness and that’s OK as long as there are also seasons of rejuvenation - whatever that looks like for you and vise versa. I talk to a lot of women who are overwhelmed by all of the rules and the things they need to do to take care of themselves while also managing a household, a partner, kids and a full time job. I tell them to breathe. They need to breathe and then I ask them what lights them up. Start there.