Take a minute to imagine your typical work week. At what point in the week do you generally begin to yearn for Friday at 5 pm? (And if you said Monday, you are most certainly my people!) Our work can be rewarding in so many ways, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel tired and worn out by the end of the week. Personally, my work days are spent in a classroom, hanging out with 8 and 9 year olds. I give all I have to ensure they leave each day possessing more knowledge than they walked in the door with. Because many jobs, like teaching, are high-stress and high-demand, you can be certain that Fridays are highly anticipated for most people.
By the time Friday rolls around, we welcome the break. Our bodies, exhausted emotionally and physically, will be desperately crying uncle after an entire week of running on full speed. But that’s what weekends are for, right?! We step away from the weekly grind and spend a couple of days resting, just to prepare for Monday morning to dutifully return, like an inevitable boomerang that hits you square in the nose.
How are You Spending Your Time Off?
While it’s true that weekends and days off are great opportunities to rest and rejuvenate, what happens when we don’t use that time to its full advantage? What happens when our days off suddenly become just as busy as our weekdays? I don’t know about your life, but my weekends tend to include some pretty NON-relaxing happenings. These events include, but aren’t limited to; meal planning, travel for kids’ sporting events, cleaning toilets, and shopping trips that didn’t happen during the week. Have you ever visited a Costco on a Saturday afternoon? It’s just about as relaxing as oral surgery.
Our society tends to be consumed with achieving and reaching the next goal, and that looks different for each of us. But one thing that connects us is our seeming inability to rarely just stop and slow down. I’ve fallen into the trap myself, and it happened before I even realized it. There are times when I’ve tried to sit out on my back porch in the morning, relaxing with just my coffee and my mountain view, and without warning, I’m overwhelmed and feel anxious from the onslaught of distractions that preoccupy my brain. Get the dog’s meds, pick up dry cleaning, figure out a meal plan, create a carpool schedule. That leads to me jumping up, abandoning my serene setting, and getting busy just doing “stuff.” Even when I try to rest, I can’t. Maybe you can relate?
Not All Self-Care is Created Equal
I propose the problem may just be that we aren’t “resting” the way we are designed to. Each of us is uniquely created to respond to different types of rest and rejuvenation, or what we can refer to as “self care.” But be aware, not all self-care is created equal. One person’s idea of self-care may be torture for someone else.
For example, my husband thrives on working on projects and checking off a to-do list. Hear me when I say, this is life-giving for him. He is thrilled when we have an open weekend and he’s able to do some yard work, build a couple of planter boxes, and once the sun goes down, organize the family budget spreadsheet. I stood in awe one Saturday, wide-eyed, watching from the window, wearing my pajamas and absentmindedly sipping my second cup of coffee. I couldn’t imagine that he wanted to do all of this with his free time.
But his soul needs things that mine doesn’t, and my soul thrives on things that certainly wouldn’t give him a full recharge. A Netflix binge and a 9pm bedtime speaks to my soul. For my husband, it would be in no way relaxing for him to sit there thinking of all the items on his to-do list that aren’t being checked off.
Pure torture, not self-care.
Self-Care is Far From Selfish
Our choice for self-care should reflect on just that – caring for our own self, or our own soul. This is not a selfish idea. Far from it. When we care for ourselves, we are best able to care for those we love and others around us. Similarly, when I’m recharged and I’ve adequately cared for my soul, I have more patience, energy, and compassion. That benefits my husband, children, co-workers, students, friends, and anyone I happen to be driving next to during rush hour.
We each have a unique design for what refreshes us and what recharges us. I’m not talking about pedicures, bubble baths, and massages here. I’m talking about what breathes life into us. Self care is what we do to help us feel like the best version of ourselves. Life screams at us from all directions, and like standing in the infant room at a child care center, it’s hard to know how to effectively quiet the chaos. A little self-care will help!
What Gives Contentment to your Soul?
Self-care can provide what our soul thirsts for when we’re parched by the multitude of life’s demands. Every person is unique, and we each benefit from different opportunities to care for our souls.
If your greatest desire is for community and relationships, your self-care might look like having some friends over for dinner. Wine, music, and twinkle lights on the back porch might be exactly what fills your soul.
Finding yourself immersed in a gripping story filled with mystery and drama may be equivalent to a week-long vacation in the tropics. Certainly, simply reading a great novel, uninterrupted, is another way to care for yourself!
Writing may be self-care for you. I write, because otherwise, the thoughts and ideas that pile up like Jenga blocks in my brain would never sort themselves out. I would end up dragging around a duffle bag of emotions that my soul can’t carry for long. Self-reflection and introspection is absolutely self-care.
Even just writing down your thoughts and reflecting on what your grateful for each day can enormously benefit your well-being, according to this article.
Working with your hands to create something may leave you feeling accomplished and successful. Artwork, woodworking, home improvement, and DIY projects can easily be life-giving to someone who desires to feel productive and to use their creative talents in a way for others to enjoy as well.
Care for Yourself in Everyday Moments
We are all in need of self-care. Self-care doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t have to, occur simply on the weekends. Therefore, if we find opportunities to embrace situations that will feed our soul, we owe it to ourselves and those around us to say yes to those moments. Because when you care for yourself – your soul – you are able to give more abundantly to others. We’ve heard it said that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Our souls are no different. Care for yourself, and fill your soul with whatever gives you life. In return, you are able to live life to the fullest, sharing you talents and gifts with the world around you, and making a difference in the lives of others.