Self-Care and Perspective

Regardless of where you work or study, it can be too easy to push how much time we spend on our occupation.  There is a feeling pushed on social media that if you want to get anywhere you need to work, be busy, stay busy.  If you take time off or aren’t busy all the time you’re not trying hard enough, and if you don’t try hard enough you won’t get to where you want to be.

But there is also the self-care side of things.  The side where people are starting to recognize burn out and the need to stop before you overwork yourself.  It is vital to take these days off and recharge.  To take a few hours to yourself in the evening.

With two polarizing ideas, what do you listen to?  It can be stressful even if you aren’t aware that it is affecting you.  Do you hustle for that dream job 24/7 or do you take your weekends off? Do you put in the extra time, or are you draining yourself and you absolutely, without a doubt, must take those two hours in the evening to take yourself to a movie?

The answer is going to be different for everyone.  I found that for a long period of time, I hustled, I kept myself busy.  If I wasn’t actively working toward my goal I struggled to relax, I felt like I needed to be doing something.  And, in all honesty, I did need to hustle to get to where I am.  I needed to put in that time, to research, to apply for positions, to ask questions.  I needed to be doing everything I could to make progress.

Now that I have gained some ground I am easier on myself, I take time to exercise each day, whether that is in the morning or the evening.  I take some weekends off, sometimes only one day, sometimes both.  But something I heard the other day that really resonated with me is that this idea of self-care can become stressful in itself; which completely contradicts its purpose.

For example, if you told yourself that you would take an hour walk for self-care, but work is piling up, deadlines are looming, so you try to get through your work to make time for that hour walk; but, leading up to that you are grinding yourself down, stressing yourself out.  Then when (if) you get to that walk, you are already beyond burnt out.  It would have, in this case, made more sense to have your self-care by not going for that walk, instead acknowledging that it will be better for you to stay and just finish the work, and, when it is caught up, then go.

Sometimes the idea of self-care, of taking time for ourselves, ends up being a task on our to-do list that causes more stress.  So cut yourself some slack, it isn’t a bad thing if you have to skip that for the day, it doesn’t mean you aren’t working effectively.  Take the time when you can, self-care is important, but it should not be adding to your stress level, and you shouldn’t be feeling guilty about it.  Because, if you are, it is completely self-defeating.

[Another student choice, this article from late October was noted as an article that we can all relate to sometimes.  As every AU student eventually learns, burn out is real. Dealing with it ahead of time can make all the difference.]