The Self-Care burden

So, I was reading another blog the other day. Note that I’m not giving you a link. I only give links to blogs I think you should actually read.

This blog was by a woman with a husband, small son, and a work from home job. Good for her, that’s a handful. I wanted to see how she managed her day.

That’s when she told me that she got up at 4:00 AM to practice what she referred to as self-care. I have a problem with her definition of self-care, but we’ll get to it.

She was getting up at that hour so that she could do a crazy number of things including working out, writing in her journal, and a million other things! Someone who loves this woman needs to sit her down and explain to her that self-care isn’t supposed to be another impossibly high bar we set for ourselves. But she’s not the only one I’ve seen doing this crap. The internet is full of people (mostly women), who are bragging about fitting a stupid amount of activities that could be considered self-care in stupid times of their days.

I wish I could cradle your face in my hands while I tell you this; these people are missing the point of self-care. They are not taking care of themselves, they are showing off.

In case you saw one of these people posting pics of their 5:00 AM work out and now feel pressured to do the same, or if you are one of these people pushing yourself to do more and more, please let me give you some pieces of advice.

Be realistic about how much self-care you really need.

My life has dramatically changed recently, so self-care has been essential to me. I actually wrote a list in my bullet journal, to keep myself accountable. I’ll share my list with you. Yours might look similar to mine, or it might look very different. That’s okay, we all need different kinds of care.

  • Make and keep doctor, dentist and therapist appointments.
  • Keep my home in order to my level of comfort.
  • My face care regiment.
  • Ten minutes of yoga in the morning.
  • Drink water every day.
  • Wear clothes that I enjoy and feel comfortable in.
  • Take one day off a week.
  • Journal at night before bed.
  • Honor my craft by writing every day.
  • Read every day.
  • Get enough sleep.

I’m not spending hours with an inner journey journal. I’m not working out for an hour or more a day. I’m not doing a bunch of crap that I don’t really enjoy or find value in because someone told me I need to ‘take care of myself’. I consider what I really need to do to take care of myself and do that.

The next time you think you should do something for self-care, ask yourself this; Will this really take care of me? Or is it just something that seems like I should be doing it?

Set honest boundaries with your work.

One big thing that upset me with the blog that inspired this post was the realization that this woman was working from 9:00 to 7:00. That’s way too much work, Girl! For real, work smarter, not harder.

One thing I didn’t add on my list because it’s not really an actionable item, is setting boundaries with my work. I try not to work a lot of overtime if I can help it. Sometimes I have to, but I really try not to. Overtime is hard for me and takes away time I could be spending with my family or with my writing.

Now, I get that the economy blows and it’s not realistic for anyone to turn away extra money if they can get it. Yes, I work some overtime almost every week and I kind of need to do that right now. But I don’t need to work as much as I have in the past, so I don’t.

Set honest boundaries with your family.

This is, I think, the big issue I have with these crazy self-care hours. Our lost blogger was getting up at 4:00 because she didn’t think she could take the time during normal people hours to take care of herself. Why? Because she’d filled up all of her time from 7:00 in the morning to 10:00 at night with taking care of other people.

This is called being a martyr, and we need to stop it. For one thing, it’s abusive to the people who love us.

Do you think this woman’s husband is going to divorce her if she spends some time working out before dinner? Will her son write nasty things in his autobiography about her if she asks him to have some quiet time in the afternoon so she can write in her journal for twenty minutes?

Do you think she’s ever tried?

That’s the thing of it. So many of us, mostly women, think that we have to commit ourselves to our families without even asking if we can take time for ourselves. No, we shouldn’t ask, we should inform.

Say it with me.

I’m going to stop by the gym before I come home and sneak a workout in.”

I’m heading to the coffee shop to write for an hour. Do you want me to bring you anything?”

Mom’s going to sit on the couch with her book for a while. Here is the basket of toys we take out during that time. Please play with them quietly until this timer goes off.”

And that’s it! Don’t you feel better now? I know I do.

I love how self-care has become so popular. I don’t love how wrong people are getting it. Self-care isn’t some new way to brag about how much we can accomplish in a day. It’s not another burden to put on our shoulders. It’s permission to care for ourselves as well as we care for those that we love. So, take the time to take care of yourself honestly this week. I give you permission to sleep in past 4:00.

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3 thoughts on “The Self-Care burden

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  1. Great points. I don’t necessarily think getting up early is a problem – I’m a morning person myself and have been known to get up at 5am. But I’m in bed by 9pm – I think the problem is scheduling ‘self-care’ for times when we think it’s going to be most convenient for others. It’s OK to say to you child, ‘Mum’s not going to play Ninja Turtles/Octonauts/Power Rangers right now because she’d like to sit and have a cup of tea. You go ahead and I’ll join you in twenty minutes’. And it’s OK to say to your husband, ‘no, I didn’t get around to ironing your shirt today. Why don’t you run the iron over it while I dish up dinner’.

    I think my biggest peeve since becoming a mum is woman who are always outrageously busy but who refuse (knowingly or not) to let their partner do anything. They’re the mums who make a meal for their family, even though they’re going out for dinner and their partner with be at home with the kids. And then do the dishes the next day. People treat us how we allow them to. We need to expect to be treated with the same respect we treat our children and partners with.

    This obviously bugs me more than I thought because I have written a lot here. Sorry :/


  2. Great insightful post Nicole..I have been married 55 years and am 72 and I continue to learn from you younger women how easily I slipped into some wrong habit of thinking through the years. I put everyone first for so many years and never did much self care thinking that was how God wanting me to be. You know, if He is first in my life then I must sacrifice for all just as He did. By putting my husband first all the time I was being spiritual. God has so grown me past that and I have learned a deeper love from Him contains, self care also. Again, great post. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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