I think sometimes we confuse self-care with doing nothing. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when total rest and sleep are the self-care we need. But I think more often than not, the best self-care for us is active. It’s exercising, or pushing ourselves to eat better or it’s even organizing our house so we can have less stress and clutter. Sometimes it’s even pushing ourselves at work because we need to complete tasks that are holding us or our companies back and the pressure is really draining us physically. Self-care is not always passive or mindless. And yes, sometimes self-care is a job. A job that takes discipline and dedication.
I know, I know. We’ve got plenty of jobs already and the one thing we don’t need is one more. But I find when I am most happy and fulfilled is when I have routines in place. When I am walking EVERY day, when I am eating the way I know my body works best, and when I am working hard at my job and getting things knocked off my list so I don’t spend every other moment feeling the pressure of all the things I haven’t done. And being that dedicated to both work and self-care isn’t easy. But it’s also not impossible even though we often try to tell ourselves that it is.
I’ll admit, my need for self-care in the first place is usually because I have fallen back into my workaholic tendencies. But it is also my love of work that fulfills me more often than not. So I, like many of us, am always looking for balance between work and self-care. But I think I’m looking in the wrong place. I think it is more about just doing them both; 100% commitment to each, not a 50-50 split. And I think it’s about melding them together throughout your day, not working until you crash and then medicating yourself with self-care. It’s the extremes that really break us, that wear us down. But be careful, trying to avoid the “extreme”, can give you an excuse for slacking and procrastinating.
Many would say I am obsessed with work but I think I’m filled with passion. Yes I work way more hours than not. I am definitely a “live to work” sort of girl. But working and self-care aren’t mutually exclusive. In the past, this equation of work and self-care was an either-or for me. That’s what I mean by extreme. I was only a “real worker” if I could push through a 14-hour day without a break which left no room or energy for exercise. I was only an “exerciser” if I could run for more than 30 minutes every single day and some days work commitments didn’t allow for this, so a few days off the exercise wagon and I’d just give the whole thing up totally exasperated! But I am now learning that working an 8- to 10-hour day and walking, not running, at a nice pace but doing it every single day that I possibly can (which even with work obligations usually means 5-6 times per week) is the best of both worlds.
I’ve also learned that discipline in both work and self-care are a must. Because trust me, there are days that even I, the work-a-holic, don’t feel like working. But things have to be done. And there are many days when I just “don’t feel” like self-care like yoga or walking. But you know what, following my moods undermines everything including my job and my health. And being consistent, regardless of my mood, is the perfect routine for my ultimate happiness, profitability, and health.
So I’ve changed my attitude. I no longer ask myself questions like “Why can I never stay (insert your favorite word here like thin, profitable, healthy, energized, rested, ahead of my massive to do list)?” I realize that nothing and no ones stays anywhere. Change is inevitable. And questions and negative thoughts like these only undermine my success. My goal now isn’t staying the same, it’s progress. So as long as I am making progress towards self-care, towards work or anything else that is important to me, that’s all that matters. My litmus test for success and joy is now asking “Am I better in at least one area of my life than I was yesterday?” And the good news is that the answer is always yes. Even is the answer is “I’m more RESTED than I was yesterday because I spent the day in my Pj’s binge watching House of Cards on Netflix”- then I am still a success.
And even when I fall off the wagon whether at work or with my diet or exercise or with yoga and meditation, I don’t beat myself up anymore. I just calmly and happily get back on the wagon. I am grateful that I noticed that I was off track and am thankful I am back on track sooner than all the times before. But I have stopped the drama. I have stopped the negative thoughts and feelings. And I don’t give up on myself. I don’t think “WHY AM I HERE AGAIN?!” I think “well here I am again which means I’m about to learn an all new exciting life lesson”. And you know what? I always do…learn that is.
Here’s what I leave you with today. Yes, I have learned to stay calm and it’s adding years to my life, for sure. But it’s a calm attitude in the midst of 100% commitment to both work and self-care. I am hell-bent on changing the world with my work, my words, and my actions and I’m committed to self-care so I have the stamina to keep on working harder than ever.
So tell me this? Are you confusing self-care with inactivity on a regular basis? If so, that may be what’s keeping you from accomplishing your goals and finding joy. Or on the other hand, are you working to an extreme and completely ignoring self-care? If so, you’re going to crash and burn sooner than you may think. And finally, are you constantly looking for balance and starting to believe that it doesn’t exist? Can you consider active self-care mixed with work for a win-win routine that can help you be happy, healthy, and profitable? I think it may just be the equation you need for success. It certainly works for me.
Happy Saturday, friends. I encourage you to do something today – work or self-care – that will really make your life better than it was yesterday!