Disclaimer: I don’t claim to be a self-care expert. In fact, I’m kind of the worst. But you wouldn’t take real-world advice from a grows-all-her-own-organic-food-always-looks-on-the-bright-side yogi, would you? That’s what I thought.
So, yeah. Batshit.
I don’t know about you, but 2017 was a political dumpster fire for me. Spoiler alert – I’m pretty liberal. I believe in radical concepts like equal pay, access to free or affordable birth control and family planning (regardless of your employer’s religious beliefs), and that women should be as equally represented as men in our bodies of government and corporate leadership. But maybe I’m just a feminazi, liberal wackadoodle (real words?).
Nah. I tend to think many women (and men!) also believe in those concepts and are equally tired of this kind of shit. And ya’ll, I was TIRED last year. The news cycle and inescapable bitch fests with my friends and colleagues had me totally stressed out.
“THEY” had me down
The administration. The #metoo offenders. The mansplainers. The manspreaders. The manterrupters (okay….that one is kind of stupid). “THEY” seemed to be around every corner, pissing me off, disrupting my sleep, taking over cocktail hour conversations. Messing with my snack foods. Damn you Lady Doritos!
Oh, and this…
Statistics like this got me really worked up. How is it that women represent the majority of the U.S. population, yet lack representation in ALL the seats of power? Didn’t our country burn ships in the Boston Harbor and bring on a mad revolution for stuff like this back when King George was “the man”?
Last year, I was like, where’s the matches because I’ma bout to start a blaze up in this mother. Like that waitress screamed in Maximum Overdrive, right before she got murdered by a machine that had came to life, “We made you! We. Made. You!!!” Seriously. What the…?
Whew. So much craziness. Have you felt it too? It’s okay because we’ve all felt it. Collectively, women have been getting burned out. So you’ve just got to breath. Do it with me now. Deep breath in……….(mantra: let that shit go)…..and long exhale out.
It’s really going to be fine. Through the different phases of my life – young adult, motherhood, pissed off middle aged feminist – I, like many of us, let myself get worked up over things I cannot control and soon enough find myself depleted and in desperate need of self care.
So that anxiety and burnout you’re experiencing? I hate to be the one to tell you, but it’s not all on “them”…its a little bit you, too. Situations of abuse and violence aside, you are in control of your own emotions and how well you take care of yourself. You can’t play the victim and blame others for how drained you are. If you’re working 24/7 and you feel like you’re always on the defense and sacrificing yourself for others and have no time for yourself – then it’s time you take responsibility for yourself and, what’s our mantra? – “let that shit go”.
Fuuuuuuuuudge. So you mean I have to adult? Yep. I know it’s tempting to blame external factors for your internal struggles., but you’ve got to learn how to find your balance between internal and external demands, create boundaries that protect your energy, and take care of yourself.
Here’s some self care truth:
#1 People will be assholes. Here’s hoping you aren’t one. Don’t let the assholes ruin your day or stop you from taking time for you. Create healthy boundaries that keep out the negativity. One trick I try is to imagine a plexiglass bubble around myself when I’m around toxic people, then visualize their energy/actions bouncing off that glass and away from me. Remember the “I’m rubber and you’re glue” thing from elementary school? Well, it works in the adult world, too.
#2 That voice in your head is a bitch
Sometimes the negativity isn’t coming completely from the outside, but within. We all have a voice in our head that tells us we aren’t good enough. Well ladies, that voice is a bitch and you need to put her in her place. Everyone has a bitch-in-residence and everyone hates her. When she pipes up, acknowledge her for what she is, and then move on. Pay her no mind.
#3 You have to take real care of yourself.
And I don’t mean doing cute stuff that looks great on Instagram. Go to the doctor regularly. Get a therapist. Eat well. Try going a full day without saying anything negative about yourself, then keep it up. An your worst days, think about how you would care for a dear friend if she were you – then do those things for yourself.
Here come the cliches. I know meditation and yoga aren’t for everyone, but I freaking love it. If you haven’t tried it, then do yourself a favor and schedule a yoga session or find a quiet comfortable place to just be still for 10 minutes and meditate. Finding quiet and balance and being grounded to the earth will do wonders for your body and your mind.
Every now and then you need to unplug and leave crazy town. I personally like to physically remove myself from access to technology by going camping or hiking somewhere there is little to no reception. If you don’t like the outdoors, then schedule phone-free time regularly and spend a few hours away from all the screens. You really DO NOT need to know what Donald Trump’s last tweet was. Oh wait, he just started a nuclear war? Cool.
Find your tribe. It’s important to have healthy, supportive relationships with other women who you can completely be yourself around. Not someone who’s good to be seen with, or who is great for your career, but someone who will hold you accountable for your shit and love you for it all anyway.
Most importantly, you have to love yourself. It took me a while to love myself and let go of unrealistic expectations that were developed in me at a young age out of family dysfunction. We all have baggage. As an adult, as a leader, as a woman in our messed up culture, you’ve got to deal with that shit and leave it behind or it will eat you up inside.
The Ultimate Truth:
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare” – Audra Lorde
I have personally struggled with depression as a result of childhood abuse, and every day that I live a happy and fulfilling life, despite my origins, is a day that I win. Living well is the best revenge.
So you do you and be where you need to be. If you are in a situation where you cannot adequately care for yourself in a way that allows you to thrive, then you need to make moves to get out of that situation and live better. Remember, you are worthy of living well and loving yourself and actively practicing real self-care.
You are the lady variety of human, a lady human, which is my favorite kind 🙂