Between agency work, a freelance gig, a few speaking opportunities, a few writing opportunities, a give my opinion on random stuff opportunity, a conference, side projects (like this blog!) and breathing in between, it’s safe to say my plate has been pretty full lately. Exciting full! Making shit happen full. I was riding the wave of possibility and saying yes to everything, when I hit a massive wall last night. I left the office, came home, and worked for one more hour to finish a satisfying week. Almost as if my eyes knew I could finally rest, I closed my computer at 7:30 p.m. and exhaustion took over. I was beyond fatigued. Within an hour, I was in physical pain. My eyes were red, my thoughts were fuzzy, my muscles felt tense, and I was having trouble forming full sentences.
Heard, understood, and acknowledged. I need TO CHILL. I went to sleep without technology, and vowed to wake up on Saturday prepared to spend the entire day taking care of myself.
Self care is this thing we talk about like it’s always in the future. Ten Steps to Better Self-Care!!! *Pins self-care survival kit.* I think it’s healthy to plan ahead for self-care, but sometimes you need it now. Sometimes you can’t wait another minute because your body is flipping over the closed for business sign. This is me speaking as an unmarried, childless, 29-year-old, but when that kind of burn out becomes normal, you have to prioritize yourself above your work, above your friends, above your partner, above everything.
So I woke up this morning asking myself, “How can I take better care of myself TODAY?”
Breakfast and I have a complicated relationship. It’s actually my favorite meal of the day to eat and make. If I could, I’d have breakfast three meals a day. There’s something cathartic about being in the kitchen first thing in the morning. Soft light. Messy hair. Soulful music. Full belly. Love. During the week, if it means getting an extra half-hour of sleep I settle for a Luna bar and coffee on the go. I pair this with an, “I’ll have something more substantial when I get to work!” Then, I get to work and forget. This morning, I woke up sans alarm, and made myself a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich with a side of sautéed spinach. And my coffee, obviously.
My room is as overwhelming to be in as my brain right now. Piles of laundry, two unpacked bags from recent trips, and creative briefs scattered along my night stand. It’s all cyclical. When my room feels cluttered, I don’t sleep well. When I don’t sleep well, I skip breakfast. When I skip breakfast, I’m a hungry, miserable, less productive version of myself. So I spent two hours this afternoon doing laundry, vacuuming, unpacking, and de-cluttering. If I didn’t need it, it went in the garbage. If I haven’t worn it, I donated it. If it was tied to a person, place, or experience that no longer serves me, I threw it out. My room is back to being the etherial haven it was always meant to be.
If there’s anything more cluttered than my room right now it’s my brain. I have so much in there, and I keep cramming more in. It’s like I’m going on vacation and trying to bring ALL the things. I don’t know what the weather’s going to be like, so I pack shorts and jeans. I might go to something fancy, so I’ll need a gown. Which means I’ll need heels. I’ll want to work out, so I throw in my running sneaks. And a wind breaker in case I’m on a freaking boat at some point. And…wait. Where am I going? That’s my brain. It’s overflowing with stuff I’m excited and passionate about, but that stuff is taking over. I took a half hour after eating breakfast to meditate, and realized it was the first time in weeks I’d sat in silence with no interruptions. Usually yoga is my time to give my brain a break, but I’ve been missing it. And clearly, missing that quiet time.
Side note: I’m sure someone will tell me I’m supposed to meditate on an empty stomach, but I’m just doing the best I can, you dig?
SKIN (AND SLEEP)
Question: What does two weeks of no sleep do to your skin?
Answer: Pisses it off.
Guys, my skin is so pissed at me. From the bags under my eyes, to the chronic dryness, to the small bumps I get along my jaw line when I’m especially stressed out, (I’m a jaw clencher. Trying to stop.) my skin just isn’t happy. It basically looks and feels like a broken Terra Cotta pot. I was planning on trying to squeeze in a facial this weekend but the snowstorm camped my style. Instead, I treated myself to nine hours of sleep and a steam room treatment at the gym, followed by an at home face mask made with avocado, honey, and oatmeal.
Speaking of yoga, the last time I worked out was last Thursday. I went for a 5k run, did some core work, and vowed to come back the next day. Okay fine, two days later. OKAY, over the weekend. Ugh. Next week. Fast forward to now. I trudged through the storm today for another 5k run, but I hated every mile. That said, the runner’s high followed me around for the duration of the day. This lack of discipline is entirely my fault. Instead of making my body a priority, I’m making my computer a priority. Sometimes that happens, but it can’t happen all the time. You know what happens to your body when you don’t make it a priority? It stops working for you.
Aaaaaand here we are.
I’m hoping to find ways in the next few weeks to be more mindful about folding self-care more consciously and frequently into what “routine” I have. I’m trying to get better at recognizing my bad-to-myself habits, like working until 2am and functioning on 5 hours of sleep for starters. The goal is to not shut down to the point where I need to spend an entire day recovering from life. Working hard is one thing, but working so hard that life starts to hurt is an entirely different thing. It’s called burn out. And I learned on Friday night that it’s super real.
Take care of yourself, friends. There’s only one of you!