The New Self-Care Guilt

Let me start by saying again, I am “self-care” term aversive. As a boss, a clinical leader…the self-care implies that I and the organization would have to be responsible and /or presume responsibility for the self-care of my staff. The term also erroneously implies that self-care is an act, a day, a moment. Well if you are like me and trying to live your best life everyday, this is in-congruent to lifestyle shift. And if you are like me and just busy, how can you do this self-care thing of …when you are.just.tired yourself.

My philosophy is from an organization standpoint, is this. Self-Care is not a new term or concept. Women and Men have used statements related to this term for a very long time. In fact, I vividly remember my mother saying things like “I’m going out…by myself” or even overhearing discussions that included the statement “What are you doing for yourself?”

Additionally, Self-Care would imply that you as a busy person or #mompreneur are not doing anything for yourself at all. Here is the truth, the more demanding your life, the requirement of your time and the pressure on your increases. And as these things increase, coping mechanisms and strategies have to be re-examined and improved upon. Old stuff doesn’t work in new territory. Every level will require new levels of how you care your time, your family, and you.

Everyday Self-Care? That’s the mindset shift that each day, each moment requires…we release the superhuman antics and the perception of perfection that put us in this stressed out secret society in the first place. It means we slow down…we sleep in…we actually sleep…and so on. When everyday self-care is an actionable concept, we don’t need charts and calendars of self-care. Why? Because of culture shift. Top down culture shift happens when the leaders allow themselves to fail, slow down, make decisions popular and unpopular for the betterment of the organization, go home and actually relax, read books outside of work related materials, have boundaries, take off when they are sick, and talk about the challenges they face. The relational downpouring impact of self-care means people can be human and authentic.

What we have been missing for far too long in the self-care conversation of service professionals (applied behavior analysis and autism providers) is that human relationships are important. Instinctively, people in your environment move to support and assist one another. This concept of organizational care- psychological safety within the environment is critical to supporting the boundaries we all need for ourselves. Recently, I told a staff member to slow down and sit. I then said, you absolutely have to take time to drink water and not rush towards everything…if you don’t learn this now, it will be harder to get it once your career takes off. How could I tell her this? Because I live it and self-care for me is authenticity.

In a conversation with a good friend, I was triggered to list things that I used to do when I had time. The truth is, we all have the same time. And in honoring myself in my time, here’s my list of daily actionable self-care.

  1. Do the things that used to make you happy. Re-read an old book.
  2. Re-imagine yourself as a non-fire fighter. We are not there to put out fires and rescue the day. Figure out what is missing and insert person, procedure, job, or coaching to independence so that you are no longer THAT person for everyone in your workplace.
  3. Figure out who your people are. As a leader, you need people to lean on – laugh with- and who will tell you the truth. I know many people but there are five people I know who will drop everything and be there for me no matter where I am. They are FOR me no matter what I do for a living, how much I make. Find your people and be a friend to them as much as they are to you.
  4. When your body is tired …honor it. Cancel the meeting, Say No the obligation.
  5. Drink water (not on the fly), but pause-stop-drink
  6. Start to tell your children…I need a moment of silence (In my house I have to say, no loud noises, no whispers, no voice, no sounds of toys…you get the idea) and it is time for “quiet time for 30 minutes”
  7. Figure out how you can care for yourself during the day. That is , be human. Have lunch and take breaks.
  8. Knitting. Yes I can knit. In fact, I have been making the same scarf for the last 5 years…so I’m not a professional….but knitting has always given me mental solitude.
  9. Say No. I recently declined being in a wedding. While I did provide explanation…I needed to say no because I am over capacity. Then I boldly closed my professional schedule until November 2019 because I simply need to slow down.
  10. Realize that perfection is displayed on social media often…especially in professional circles. I won an award last week and it was a great picture and wonderful moment. But I missed my son’s school performance, I have a nanny-sitter situation that needs some attention, and I simply yearn to be in yoga pants and a t shirt lately.

So, remember that these nuggets of my honesty may trigger and impact you in some way. Not in a space of guilt, but hopefully freedom to lead differently. We only get one chance in this one life…all compartments of it deserve a clear mind, a healthy emotion. As you move your organization to the psychological safety space it needs so that self-care is not a new-age term but a way of being, you will realize who belongs and who does not…lead with clarity and actionable better ways of taking care of you.

#superhumannomore

~Landria Seals Green, MA., CCC-SLP, BCBA

Therapy Biz Guru

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