When Self Care Feels Like a Chore
By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
As a new-ish mom and owner of a small business, I am far busier than I ever really have been in my life. Seriously, I’m even busier now than in grad school, completing a dissertation, and working three jobs in undergrad. The challenge for me now though is that my busy life is filled with a lot of things that I feel I have to do so that I can be the best me I can be in all the areas of my life. I really want to bring my best version of myself to my work for my clients and Thrive team members as well as to my family and friends! I especially want to be my best self for my little man Luca.
I was chatting with another new-ish mom friend of mine recently and we were talking about our to-do lists. We had a lot of complaints you would expect – they are so long and never feel done. The interesting part is that on our to do lists are things like, well, I need to read a chapter in my book at night so that I can sleep well, or, I need to go for a walk and stretch so that my back does not hurt. The conclusion that we drew was that even self-care feels like another item on our to-do list! For women who are already overwhelmed, this is even more overwhelming and makes the activities we are “supposed” to enjoy, feel like tasks to check off rather than “self-care.”
I started thinking about the idea of self-care and how it has become such a buzz word in our culture, especially therapist culture. While I think self-care is obviously important, I also think there might be a better way than the way I am doing it. Which is essentially, a mad, moderately perfectionistic dash towards wellness. Here’s a snapshot of my brain: Luca goes to bed at 7pm so I am going to rush home as soon as possible from work to spend time with him until 7, do all the household things that need to get done in that time while I spend quality time with him so that at 7, I can maximize my time and either go for a walk or do some work leftover from the day, or spend time with my husband, or do my nails, or watch a show, or take a bath, etc. Even better if I can do multiple things at once, right?
Some of my mentality and tendency towards a frenzy of productivity comes from having an appreciation for time that only comes after not having any while you have a newborn. Some of this comes from having a deep appreciation for what ingredients I know help me be a better functioning person. I tend to do really well when things in my life are balanced and I have some time alone reading, some time to exercise, some time with work, and some time with my family each day. Oh and I like a clean house with things seeming somewhat orderly.
While I have been mulling this over, I have realized that the crucial ingredient to my self-care is for it to feel like a choice and to be something I take the time to enjoy. While maybe I still rush home to see Luca, spend time with him while also cleaning up the house and dinner, so that I have time to do more things that fuel me in the evening… the key is to be more mindful of the choices I am making and present focused during all of the tasks. The key is to truly appreciate whatever I am doing at any given moment and to find it something to enjoy, rather than to just check off a list. Sometimes it helps me to remember to tell myself, I “get” to do this, rather than I “have” to do this. Small changes in our self-talk really can influence the way we feel about our lives!
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
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