Many years ago when I was a single mom, working full time and feeling (to say the least) frazzled, a woman that I admired greatly, looked at me during a business meeting and asked, “When was the last time you did something, anything that had no other purpose then to make you happy: even for a few minutes at a time?"
The question, as far as I was concerned, came out of nowhere and because it had nothing to do with the budget we were discussing I brushed it off. The question came up again at a staff retreat 18 months later. The facilitator we had hired was stressing the need for “self-care”, a must she emphasized for all women, but particularly true for women who were working in the “caring” professions. Great, I thought, one more thing I have to shoe-horn into my schedule.
It will come as no surprise to anyone reading the above, that me and my type-A personality were heading for the stormy seas of burnout. Like thousands of women before me I had to learn the hard way that I was not, in fact, a perpetual motion machine capable of indefinitely juggling dozens of balls simply through sheer will power. In reality, I was more akin to a living battery, and in order to put out energy I had to find a way to “recharge”. Self-care I learned was really the only way to recharge that expended energy.
Over the years I’ve become a convert to the self-care movement and often ask the clients that I’m working with to come up with their own list of “pleasing” things and then commit to practising a least one of the items on the list. I’m often faced with a million reason’s why they can’t: they don’t have the time, they don’t have the money, they don’t have the energy. What it really seems to come down to though is their internalized, often unconscious belief that we are the least important people in our own lives. Practicing self-care on the other hand makes a statement to the people around us and more importantly to ourselves that we are important and we deserve to have joy in our lives.