If you’re like most people, you excitedly anticipate the holiday season. Then it arrives and your calendar is full, and there are presents to buy and wrap, relatives to visit, cards to mail, baking, shopping, socializing, cooking, hosting, brunching… and that’s on top of your deliverables for end-of-year at work. All of a sudden you are exhausted and feeling stressed.
What you wouldn’t give for a bit of time to just breathe. And so you click on the self-care articles that keep popping up in your newsfeed, hoping at least one of them will provide you with the perfect solution to all that stress. Except the articles don’t make you feel any better because, when are you supposed to take that 2-hour bubble bath with so much still left to do? Is that really going to help?
Well, we want to let you in on a little secret.
Self-care isn’t about a spa day at home. It isn’t mimosas and foot rubs (although that does sound AMAZING right now).
True self-care is about building a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.
Let that sink in.
True self-care is about all of the tough choices you are likely avoiding: saying no to a loved one, working out instead of stressing out, knowing your boundaries and having hard discussions with those who constantly attempt to cross them.
Here are some tough self-care things that the majority of us ignore until we are boiling over with stress:
- Your finances. Yup. Everyone worries about money. Are we saving enough? Are we making enough? Can we afford ______ ? The thing about money is unless you have a plan and track what you spend on, you’ll always be stressed – because you’ll feel a little out of control with too many unknowns. Turn those unknowns into ‘knowns’. Get a solid plan together so you can stop stressing yourself out.
- Your career. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being you plan on working there forever), where do you feel you are in your career? Are you happy/neutral/unhappy? Why? What are the causes? Boredom? Too much to do? Define the cause for yourself and tell someone. For crying out loud this isn’t Hogwarts where your leaders ‘just know’ and an owl will carry your message to the right person. Find a mentor or a confident and ask for their help or advice.
- Your relationships. Are there toxic people in your life that make you feel awful every time you see them? Just like bad air quality, bad relationship quality can poison everything around you.
- Your health. Are you constantly tired? Do you get headaches, back pain, chest pain? If you are committed to your health and feel strong most of the time – great job! If you struggle in this area, then like most of us, just remember that healthy living isn’t about perfection. Start with small, achievable changes you know you should make. Don’t boil the ocean.
By the way, no ‘spa day’ is going to fix what’s wrong.
Let’s call that what it really is – avoidance. All you are doing is escaping for a little while. And if issues in your life are minor and all you need is 4 hours of ‘me time’ – go for it. That’s amazing. Feel good about it.
But the wisdom of true self-care is not about ‘escaping’. It’s the opposite. True self care is about facing and fixing what’s not working for you.
So we invite you to reflect on 2017 as the year comes to a close: Did you take good care of yourself? Did you let things get out-of-hand and overwhelm you? Are you avoiding any tough choices? And if you keep avoiding them, will they go away?
Take a moment as you are reading this and make a consistent commitment to your well-being in 2018. Plan to take better care of yourself next year.
Don’t forget: amazing professionals are here to help you if you don’t know where to start.