I get it, who has time for that? I’ve got to go to work, look after other people, clean my house, get to that appointment, get the car serviced, finish that report……how am I supposed to fit in self-care? It won’t make a difference anyway. I’m ok, I’ll get to that later. I know those are all the things we tell ourselves. You know what though? It’s not really a luxury, or something you can do when every everything else is done. People who’ve learnt the hard way know what I’m talking about. Let’s explore self-care, what it is and how you can get some in your life.
I can see your internal eye roll, another professional telling you to fit in some magical self-care, I know that was always my attitude too. I’m as busy as anyone else, running a business, having another job, kids, running a house, trying to see friends, and then having energy for a relationship. It has all come to a head several times in my life and it’s usually my body telling me to slow down, and I’ve ignored it until it was too much.
There’d are many stats on burnout, and how it affects our productivity, our careers, our ability to do everyday tasks. According to an ABS study, 45% of Australians between the ages of 16-85 will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, while that is not specifically burnout it is related.
Apart from stats though its the feeling is when you want to do everything, but you don’t have the energy. Everything starts to look a bit grey. And then the guilty self-talk comes in, about what you’re not doing, and it’s the feeling of being overwhelmed. It’s a stuck place to be, because you want to do things, or feel like you should but at the same time you don’t have the brain power and your body is too tired.
What do you notice from being overwhelmed?
It’s usually self-talk about how you’ve got too much to do, that nothing is good enough. It might be racing thoughts, or the feeling that you should always be doing something else. It might just be feelings like you have no energy, heart palpitations, or feeling it takes longer to recover after you exert your energy. According to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) published by the World Health Organization (WHO), it was classified as a medical diagnosis. Here are all the signs:
- Disillusionment/loss of meaning
- Mental and physical fatigue and exhaustion
- Moodiness, impatience and short tempered
- Loss of motivation and reduced interest in commitments
- Inability to meet obligations
- Lowered immunity to illness
- Emotional detachment from previous involvements
- Feeling efforts are unappreciated
- Withdrawal from coworkers and social situations
- Hopeless, helpless and depressed outlook
- Job absenteeism and inefficiency
- Sleep deprivation
- Foggy thinking and trouble concentrating
Here’s what you can do about it
It often happens to people who care a lot about what they do, and being very good at what the do, makes you care a lot. I am not suggesting that you care a bit less, but sometimes you do need to think of ‘leaning out’, to use the opposite of a popular phrase. Lean out to make some room in your life and to recognise that its ok not to be on top of everything all the time.
- Start looking at what you can change. Do you need to change your schedule? When you think about what’s realistic, start looking at the number of hours you have in a week. Apart from the must do stuff, like go to work and look after children, where is the wiggle room?
- Try to fit in a bit of mindful time, where you slow down and do one thing at a time, whether that is meditating, listening to music, reading, exercising, writing, being creative, baking, whatever takes you out of your reactive brain for a while.
- If you look hard enough try to find even half an hour of time to do an activity you enjoy, you don’t have to go on a holiday or a week long retreat. It’s about the small daily actions that build up. Don’t think you can just wait till some magical time in the future when you’re not busy.
- Time management. In a recent study it was found that people who sit on the couch at night or use social media lot report having less time. Sometimes it’s our perception of time that’s the issue. You need to look at using even small blocks of time to fit in some things that help you feel calm and are enjoyable.
Things to think about:
- Look at your schedule
- Question if all the things you are doing meet your goals in life
- Cut out the stuff that doesn’t
- Learn to say to things that don’t add to your life
- Outsource things if you can
- Learn to ask for help
- Make conscious choices
- Take care of your body first.
- Seek professional help from a psychologist