1. Take a walk
Really? I already do this once per day with my kid, twice per day with my dog, and sometimes when I feel like cheating and calling it a workout. How many more miles do I need to log on my fitness tracker to call it self-care and feel some sort of blissful relief?
2. Take a bath
I can’t remember the last time I took a bath and felt all my problems melt away. If anything, I got out of the tub sweating hot, smelling too strongly of lavender and annoyed that I only made it through an eighth of my newest issue of Good Housekeeping (which by the way is now covered with water splatter).
3. Talk to a friend
I love talking to my friends. About work, about kids, and about weird things our husbands do. But whoa, wait I thought we were talking about my problem-problems, not yours too! Is that why the saying goes, “Misery loves company”?
You’ve. got. to. be. kidding. me. With this monkey-mind? Sit STILL? How on earth am I supposed to let 14,758 thoughts “float away” when they’re all suddenly in my mind at one time? And gosh, the itching. I’m convinced it’s my thoughts crawling all over me like ants on an apple core. *facepalm*
5. Get a massage
Ok, ok, I do get regular massages. Every 4 weeks like clockwork. But to me, massages are essential, right up there with air and water. Groceries are a close second. Spoiler alert: massages usually just make you feel… sore. If you use them as “self-care,” the problems you were trying to escape will still find you.
6. Laugh out loud
How long does a laugh last? Like 0.7 seconds? Whoops I was so busy laughing I forgot about my problems for 0.7 seconds! I’m not laughing. You’re laughing!
7. Get outside
Umm, but, I don’t wanna wear a mask anymore! 😭😷😩
8. Drink tea
Riddle me this: have you ever wondered why no one suggests drinking wine for self-care?
9. Buy stuff you don't need
Retail therapy, my foot. A new handbag or athleisure outfit might give you a fleeting sense of joy, but it ain’t gonna solve the reason you feel the need for self-care in the first place, sweet cheeks.
10. Dance it off
You want me to... what?
Here’s the deal: when you’re burnt out, exhausted, and at the end of your rope, none of these “self-care” suggestions are going to fix what’s really broken. If you’re already suffering from being overworked, over-extended, and over-committed, do you think adding more things to your plate to do is the answer?
These might give you a temporary sense of happiness, but none are a long-term solution to cure the epidemic of burnout in our culture, which is the reason you’re turning to self-care in the first place, amiright?
What you need is: a break.
Schedule a morning, an afternoon, or a full day off. (There’s nothing that feels quite as good as clearing your calendar for a day, does it?) Use this time to…
WRITE out whatever it is you’ve been feeling but have been too busy to think about, so you can become aware of the internal dialogue going on inside you. If writing isn’t your thing, talk it through with a trained professional. Not your mom, not your best friend, and definitely do not hop on a Zoom call to chat it out with a coworker. Seek out a third-party who can give you a listening ear and an objective perspective.
NOTICE what you’re feeling, and acknowledge that’s simply how you feel. It isn’t right or wrong. It’s not good or bad. Your emotions are guideposts; they’re there to let you know when you’ve gotten off course.
ASK yourself: “Where am I saying yes when I want to say no?” This will help you identify where your energy is leaking out, so you can take steps to reclaim it.
When all else fails, I do find binging on Netflix and a pint of Halo Top does the trick.