Why do we do such a bad job of taking care of ourselves?
I asked this question to my mom last week when we were sitting on our back deck on night too hot for October.
She instantly said: “Because we think we’re fine.”
I said, “I didn’t get enough sleep—I went to bed so late.” The thing is: I could have gone to sleep earlier if I tried or wanted to. I can blame phones, movies, TV, curiosity, FOMO, passion projects, journaling, reading, etc. I think I can do all. the. things. in a day (or just a night). I thought I would be fine if I stayed up an hour later because I do it a lot, and I always end up fine. I want control over my life and don’t want to recognize that I can’t do it all and that as a human, I actually need sleep.
We can trick the system (or biology).
Moms really do know best — self-care is hard because we don’t think we need it.
We don’t know how messed up we are. We don’t know how to admit it to ourselves. We never want to be vulnerable, never needing care; we chase after invincibility (at least, that’s just me).
There are many messages out there telling us to push through pain, work harder, you can do it. Stress, exhaustion, health, sluggishness, headaches will go away when we finally push through the last deadline, finally feel that sense of accomplishment (but this is only half the message). We can only overcome these struggles when we start caring for ourselves.
One thing a lot of people don’t tell you that it takes work to truly rest.
We need to spend intentional time unpacking our week. It takes work to get into a pattern of reflection so that we can have better mental stability. It takes scheduling and physical work to exercise. It takes effort to slow down and have some fun.
A lot of times we choose to work to be productive—to work towards a product, but not a real end-result. Or we choose to get distracted with things that don’t matter and actually harm us (addictions, laziness, etc.).
Keep the end in mind and be intentional about it.
Why are you working and why do you need self care? Why do you want to be fine?
Is it to…
- Achieve a dream you’ve had since childhood?
- Provide for your family?
- Change popular opinion about a subject?
- Spend time with loved ones?
- Leave a legacy?
- Change the outlook for someone’s life?
- Have a celebration or take a break?
- Spread a message the world needs to here?
Now matter what, our end result in all of our endeavors involves care. It involves love. If all of our striving everyday isn’t infused with love and self-care, how do we expect our work to do the same?
We are not fine, but we are on a mission to make the world a better place.
Everyday we have the chance to care for ourselves and the world our families and friends are a part of. Caring for ourselves and caring for the world.
Let’s be honest and say we are anything but fine. And that is powerful. It gives us room to infuse more love into our lives.
We are in desperate need for our work to change course and head towards rest. Turn your steering wheel and keep driving—keep striving—but know that you will need a rest stop.
What barriers do you face with self-care?
Related Post: Using Creativity the Right Way to Improve Mental Health