I should know better.
After months of contemplating self-care and smugly defining what it meant for me and what it could mean for other people...After months of work developing a theory and a spectrum and starting to focus group the ideas...After allowing myself to imagine I was well on my way to becoming some internet celebrity self-help guru...After all that, do you know what I did? I went on a six night "vacation" to my parents house and acted liked some kind of demonic hair-shirted martyr.
It's true that the purpose of the trip was to help my fiancé do a bunch of tasks around the house that would in turn help my parents, who have had a Very Hard Year. But we were by no means treated like indentured servants, and instead offered many opportunities to rest and relax. I just didn't take any of them. I ignored all of my pillars of self-care. Worse, actually, I completely forgot they ever existed. I didn't floss, I didn't wear sunscreen, I didn't hydrate, and my sleep hygiene was poor. I had created a protocol of self-care activities to enact in a crisis, a bare minimum required to keep my sanity intact, and I didn't do any of those either. But Slurpees and Starbucks every day? Sure. One measly run. My physio exercises like they never existed. Yoga? Never heard of it.
So, it would be a surprise to no-one to discover that upon our return, after less than six hours of sleep, I was a complete hopeless disaster. Starbucks breakfast (did I have milk for cereal at the office?). Starbucks lunch (no leftovers to bring). Questionable hydration. After almost a week of not taking care of myself with the belief that other people needed my time more than I needed my time, the wheels had completely fallen off the bus.
It's easy in these situations to launch a "fuck it" cycle, telling yourself that since you're already so deep down a hole that there's no point in trying to climb out until tomorrow. Maybe even Monday. But mid-afternoon, I remembered a new mantra I've added to my motivational lexicon. "Today is not over yet." So. Fill up the water bottle. Do a vinyasa in my cubicle. Find an easy work task to start with and rock it out until home-time. Make a plan for what I need to do tonight. Shake it Off.
We are useless to our employers, colleagues, friends, and families if we tap ourselves out in the belief that our needs matter less than theirs. It doesn't matter how good your self-care intentions are unless you are willing to Do the Work. Self-care is hard. It takes time. It takes time away from our loved ones. But that makes it no less worthwhile.
It's 9:00pm on a Sunday. Today is not over yet. What's your move?