...because it seems like everyone is talking about self care. Don't believe me? Just Google "Self-Care" and you'll be hit with everything from magazine articles, to college courses on the topic. It's a hot topic.
Now, when I saw this article, it was pretty coincidental to me, because over the past few weeks, I'd had conversations on self-care with no less than 7 of my friends. I think with 2017 being such a stressful year for so many, many people are needing more decompression and recuperation than before. If you're not a fan of our current president, then you quite possibly feel like a truck has steamrolled your soul.
Now, I'm no expert on self-care. However, I have a job that requires a regular refilling of my cup. In fact, I sat in on a conference call about 2 years ago sponsored by the organization Generation Progress, that was purely on 'self-care', offering ideas on how some high profile members of the organization do self-care, as well as suggestions by a professional life coach.
So what is self-care? Here's the definition I go by:
What is Self Care?
- Active participation in enhancing the quality of your health
- Includes any intentional action you take to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health
- Effective strategy for protecting yourself from the stress and trauma our work can cause
Why you need Self Care Regularly
- Decrease stress
- Brings awareness of your own personal vulnerabilities
- Eliminate burn out
I have several avenues of self-care. My main outlet is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I spend 1-2 hours a night rolling around on the floor with men and women who are trying to either put one of my limbs into a position to potentially break it, or to strangle me, at which point I either 'tap out' or go to sleep.
Yep, that's what I do to relieve stress. In addition, I'm finding a greater outlet in writing and creating video content for my Youtube Vlog. I'm seriously hoping to start my own podcast soon. I love to read, and in non-winter months I absolutely enjoy biking and can ride hundreds of miles a month. I also meditate, and even completed a truncated course to better allow me to share my meditation practice with others. Finally, I've begun reindulging in coloring, which brings me a lot of peace and relaxation.
Yes, sometimes I will go to the store and get a pint of ice cream, or a creamy slice of chocolate cake. However, you have to be careful with those types of self-care. But sometimes when someone shits on your day, you just gotta do it. That's totally ok too. Some people like to unwind with a glass of wine...perhaps the whole bottle. That's alright too, I would say as long as that's not nightly. That could quickly escalate into something unhealthy.
So the first time I read Ms. Wiest's article, it bugged me...but I wasn't sure exactly what bugged me about it. So I read it again. I've read it quite a few times now. I couldn't put my finger on it, because there are quite a few things she says that I agree with...but something just wasn't jiving in my brain...so I pulled it apart paragraph by paragraph, and it hit me:
I vehemently disagree with her base premise, which is summed up in the statement:
True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.
I feel like this statement makes an overarching assumption: "That your life is ugly and stressful because you choose to make it that way, because of conscious choices, and now you need to make the 'down and dirty' choices to rectify your life, to make it something beautiful, and not something you need to escape from.
I'm a teacher. While I currently work for a nonprofit organization, I still go into classrooms and teach. I even have a license from the state.
Now teaching is tough. Very stressful. Couple that with the fact that I specifically teach about gun violence, and reacting to that violence.
Every day, I talk about how many people have been shot, or killed, how that death reverberates through families, communities, and even a whole city, and then begin discourse by asking youth "What are your thoughts on that?"
Now, I wouldn't change that for anything in the world. I love teaching, and I love what I do. But, it is sometimes a life that I need to escape from?
So, does that mean I should change jobs?
Sometimes I need a salt bath, and shout out to my friend Jennifer who allows me to come over to her house sometime and use her tub. My tub is rubbish. The lining is coming out. I didn't even know the lining of a tub could come out.
Sometimes I need chocolate cake, as I've mentioned. And yes, I agree that self-care is often unbeautiful. There's nothing beautiful about seeing me get strangled by a guy half my size. And yes, I agree that sometimes self-care is as simple as saying no. I have a lot of friends who are yes men...or yes women...yes people. They say yes, because they have big hearts. Sometimes, self-care is saying no. But when you can't say no, sometimes that glass of wine and soak in the tub is the escape.
Yes, sometimes self-care is creating a budget...and yes, sometimes self-care is leaving a soul sucking job that you hate. I did that. I quit a job that paid me $52k and took a job that paid me barely $30K. I'm still suffering the financial ramifications of that choice, but holisticly, I was a much happier person.
But I do feel that Ms. Wiest makes an assumption that the life you live is something that needs to be changed if you feel like you nightly need a soak, and there is nothing further from the truth, especially if you live in the era of Trump. I'm not a drinker, but there's rarely a night that goes by where I don't think I need a stiff drink...and then a punching bag with Trump's grotesque face on it.
Also, that quote by Amil Niazi...I feel like that's all byproduct of having asshole friends.
Thou shalt not have asshole friends.
In closing...do you boo boo! Self-Care is not a bad word. I would certainly encourage you to print out the self-care tip sheet above and put it on your refrigerator (I have a copy in my office). Do what you need to face tomorrow with a smile...as long as those actions aren't self-destructive. You're not doing it for someone else...you're doing it for you, so ultimately, who gives a shit if it looks good to someone else...what's important is if it feels good to you. And yes, sometimes good sex can be a self-care...even if said sex is a party of one. ;-)
Today, I had a shitty day. After eating 2 slices of pizza chased with Coconut Water, I will be having a big glass of eggnog. Certainly not on my diet plan, but damnit, it'll put a smile on my face. #SelfCareWin
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