Self-Care: Maybe It’s Not What You Think
It was an “ibuprofen for breakfast” kind of morning.
A couple weeks ago, I woke up and could tell right away that a visit to the chiropractor was in my very-near future. My neck had been sending warning signs all week, but this particular morning it was BARKING. There would be no putting it off anymore if I wanted to get anything else done.
This happens to me every now and then, this severe neck pain. It’s the product of mild scoliosis from childhood and other issues from a lifetime of dancing. I know that my body will warn me with a whisper when things start getting inflamed, and if I don’t listen fast enough, a shout soon follows. And that’s exactly what happened.
As I lay there on the table trying to distract myself, it occured to me just how much hard work self-care can be. The pain of neglect, however, is way worse than dealing with it. So I took deep breaths and gritted my teeth and let the chiropractor and massage therapist do their work.
Sure, self-care can actually be a spa day or a good book or a family vacation. And those can all be very smart and very valid forms of nurturing yourself.
But that’s not the self-care I’m referring to.
I’m talking about the self-care that requires you to push yourself to a possibly painful place. Because it doesn’t always look pretty or taste good or feel comfortable (at least not right away), we don’t think of these things as self-care.
I’m talking about the appointment you need to make with your accountant to pull apart last quarter’s financial statements. Or the hard conversation you need to have with that customer who’s not happy. Or the work you need to do on your calendar to free up time with for your spouse. Maybe your self-care quite literally needs to be your health, because you need to schedule that preventative exam you’ve already rescheduled four times.
The things you keep putting off, are probably exactly the same things that need to be done. But instead of doing them you just keep moving them from list to list.
I believe we need to reimagine our thoughts about REAL self-care with these things in mind. Real self-care is deep. It’s about an outcome, not instant gratification. It’s doing what needs to be done now to keep yourself and your business healthy later.
Sometimes self-care is taking what you have on your plate and saying “this is enough right now.” Instead of taking on more work, you temporarily focus on those existing projects and priorities only. It’s telling yourself to do a great job at getting those things done instead of just shuffling them around on your to-do list.
And so I challenge you to take a different view of self-care, outside the norm.
What do YOU need to do right now to care for yourself and your future? Where in your life do you need to push through something painful (literally or figuratively!) to achieve this? What things do you keep putting off that just need to get done already?
Do something this week for your REAL self-care. And then keep the momentum going. Reevaluate what’s on your plate more often. Power through the hard stuff.
Don’t wait for the shout; take action during the whisper.
Change your view of self-care and I believe you can change your whole perspective on work.