According to Greg McKeown, author of life-changing book Essentialism, “YOU are your best asset. Always PROTECT THE ASSET.”
As creatives, we often work on our crafts to the point of detriment. The slash loving hustlin’ life, “Hi, I’m a photographer/speaker/blogger/stylist/fitness coach/author/Rodan & Fields Representative/graphic designer.” can be hard on your mind, body, and soul. We all have our limits and need a break, a way to recharge, re-up, and get back to good.
In order to “protect the asset” and keep those slashes in place, we must engage in loving and gracious acts of self-care. Self-care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health. By definition, self-care is a highly personal act but can be done in the context of community.
You might feel as if you don’t have time to take care of yourself but you’re quite wrong in that assertion. Part of the cycle of creativity is that of incubation – a time during which you let your ideas marinate. While your ideas are resting, take that time to invest in yourself so that you can give the best you have to your work.
If you feel less stressed, more relaxed, and full during or after an activity then it can be added to the self-care list. Anything that makes you feel opposite than this probably does not belong on the list. Self-care is a deposit, not a debit from your life account. Read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and hear her strong message on the unnecessary nature of suffering as a creative.
So, what does self-care look like for me? The following things, as the kids would say, “give me life”.
- Exercise: Y’all, I have to sweat it out! Whether I take a walk, exercise in my living room, or dance it out in a fitness class–I have to move. Exercise doesn’t have to cost you a dime, there are a wide variety of ways to engage in fitness, and you can do it with your friends. Looking for a fitness studio/gym? Check out your local YWCA or see if your city has ClassPass. There’s also probably a park nearby and with a visit to PopSugar Fitness, YouTube, ToneItUp, or Self Magazine, you’ll easily be able to select a workout that you can do in your local green space.
- A Change of Scenery: If you’re in an office, go outside. If you’re outside, go inside. Walk around your building. Have a walking meeting your colleague. If you work in Nashville, take a day trip to Chattanooga. Save some money, book an AirBNB and spend some time in a new city or country. I have a goal of “breathing different air” multiple times a year as an act of self-care. Sometimes, I just need to get out of my everyday environment.
- Laugh! Often when the workday gets a bit heavy, I hit the interwebs to find something that I know will make me laugh. It could be a viral video, a clip of a TV show, and Damn You, Autocorrect! never fails. I also like to connect with funny people in my life who know just how to make me snort!
- Grooming: If it makes sense for you aesthetically and financially, perhaps join me in my passion for manicures and pedicures. We spend a lot of time taking care of other people, it feels great to have someone take care of you.
- Relaxation Techniques: Meditation, massages, prayer, and deep breathing are perfect for finding my center and releasing stress from my mind and body. There’s nothing like a deep cleansing breath when everything around you seems to have gone crazy.
- Sleep: Arianna Huffington is making everyone aware of The Sleep Revolution. You must make time to sleep. 7-10 hours of sleep a night is recommended.
- Scheduled Friend Time: Because of my hamster on a wheel lifestyle, I have to intentionally schedule brunches, lunches, and coffee dates with my tribe. Doodle is my best friend in getting the folks I love in one space.
- Life Audit: I like to do a thorough review of my life including my involvements and who I’m spending my time with on my life journey. Perhaps I need to walk away from a commitment that no longer matches my mission or I need to spend less time or no time at all with people in my life who take more than they give. What you give your resources to and who you share your resources with is critical in managing your self-care.
For all my media (social media, magazines, blogs, and television) mavens out there in the world, here’s the self-care that we all need to make happen: STEP AWAY from YOUR DEVICES! The thing about self-care is that it’s supposed to make you feel full, energized, relaxed, and happy but if we’re honest, media doesn’t always make us feel that way. In fact, media is often the cause of our woes. Start by selecting one media free day or you take Lara Casey up on her technique to put all of the social media apps on your phone and put them in a folder called “Be Intentional.” Follow that directive.
The more you engage in self-care, the more you’re able to turn life’s lemons into lemonade. It’s a form of conditioning and the positive impact of taking care of yourself builds up overtime.
So, how do you take care of yourself?
Take a few moments and set some self-care goals. When you plan your week, plot times of self-care into your schedule. Then do yourself a favor and don’t cancel meetings with yourself.
Here are my goals from the week:
- Workout at least 3 times.
- Try a new dance fitness class.
- Don’t take my work laptop to my conference in Atlanta.
- Be in bed by midnight and set my alarm at 7am and not 6am.
Take care. Take care of you for the sake of you and for the sake of the work.