Over the past handful of years, I’ve tried to find balance in being a full-time graduate student, more than full-time employee at a university, and an intern working between 20-30 weekly at a substance abuse recovery facility. Needless to say, sometimes (read: most times) I had run myself absolutely ragged. But isn’t that just the case with boss babes? We work hard to achieve our dreams.
This past summer, I made a lot of big, life changes and didn’t take care of myself like I know that I needed to. I expected my body and soul to put up with whatever I threw at it. I ended up getting really sick. Finally, a doctor sat down with me for a while and asked me a bunch of questions about my life, not just my body. He put his pen down, leaned in, and said, “I think your problem is that you’re stressed.”
I had always thought stress was a normal part of life, and while certain levels of stress can be, putting too much stress on your body and mind can have adverse effects on your health. I was running myself into the ground and it was no wonder that I was dizzy, fatigued, and perpetually nauseous. As a therapist, I see this a lot. Busy boss babes find themselves emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted but aren’t able to pinpoint why.
There’s this peculiar notion among women in America that we’re supposed to be able to accomplish all of these incredible things without ever asking for assistance or taking a moment to ourselves. In fact, many women feel such a sense of guilt and shame over potentially needing time to themselves that instead of taking care of themselves, they continue to pour themselves into a wide array of responsibilities and commitments. Up until very recently, I felt similarly. I had this belief that self care was selfish. I should be able to fill every need anyone had of me while keeping a smile on my face. How foolish was I?
I’ve learned over the past several years that self care is, in fact, a vital component of working hard, growing, and being a fully functioning girl boss. A lot of incredible women I know dedicate themselves so completely into whatever they’re doing but end up experiencing burn out because they weren’t able to give themselves the time and space to be adequately nourished and rested.
Sisters, we have to take care of ourselves. We can not be the boss babes that we are without taking care of ourselves. Here are four things that I learned the hard way about self care.
Rid yourself of the belief that it’s selfish.
By holding onto that belief, we’ll feel guilty for taking care of ourselves and it won’t actually be a productive time.
Designate a time for self and fiercely protect it.
Regardless of your station in life, there are always a million things vying for your attention. If you don’t have designated time for self care, it won’t occur. Sometimes we have to tell other people “no” in order to tell ourselves “yes.”
Find out what gives you life.
Do you need time alone to recharge? Do you need to be with close friends or family? Whatever it is that fills your cup, do it. I absolutely love being around people but if I don’t get enough time alone, I turn into a Walking Dead-esque zombie where I’m growling and trying to eat people’s brains out. My miraculous cure? A good book and a latte from my favorite coffee shop.
That’s right- turn your phone off, turn off the TV, shut off Spotify. Be silent. Be still. We were not created to be perpetually processing information. It’s exhausting and takes a toll on our mental and emotional health. Sometimes my mindfulness/meditation time turns into nap time, but baby steps, right?
We aren’t at our peak levels of capability when we’re running on fumes. Too often I’ve been in that place where I am trying to do more and be more but I have nothing left to give. I’ve sacrificed thriving for surviving. I’ve committed to not living like that anymore and because of it, I’m healthier, more balanced, and much happier.
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