I struggled with what to write about for this month’s blog. I had several different ideas swarming around in my head, do I talk about the importance of taking things step by step and not getting too ahead of ourselves? Or perhaps I share about new beginnings considering the start of spring? I even had a zooming thought at one point that maybe I would just skip this month and claim a need for “self-care” and not write one, HA! BUT then I saw this quote on social media, “The cure for burnout isn’t and can’t be self-care. It has to be all of us caring for each other” by Emily and Amelia Nagoski and I knew what I was going to write about. Truthfully, at first pass I did not like the quote. And I’m not sure I completely agree with it, although I don’t know the context in which it was used, but in my opinion, I would modify it a little to say that “the cure for burnout isn’t and can’t ONLY be about self-care. It has to include all of us caring for each other”. In this last month, I’ve recognized even more the importance of “my village”. Not only has this past month reinforced my commitment to self-care it also highlighted that I can’t do it on my own. I need the love, involvement, assistance, and care of my support system.
I have begun to notice patterns of ebbs and flows with my work schedule over the last couple of years. October and March typically tend to be unusually busy months for me for whatever reason. Historically, I’ve traveled a lot in those months, presenting at conferences and conducting professional development sessions. This past month was no different, minus the travel. I zoomed presentations and trainings on mental health and self-care, facilitated meetings and even helped launch a statewide Social Emotional Learning (SEL) campaign, among other professional responsibilities. It was a busy month. And like I frequently say, “meanwhile back at the ranch” there were things brewing on the home front as well. Isn’t that often the case, when things pile up, they really pile up? You would like to think that if work life is busy then home life relaxes, and maybe that does happen periodically, but not this past March.
Additionally, behind the scenes, my family experienced a traumatic situation, that I won’t go into here, but suffice it to say it took (is taking) a toll on us, emotionally and physically. Like the saying goes, “when it rains, it pours.” We are continuing to work our way through the storm here, step by step, but it re-emphasized for me the importance of “my village.” As intentional as I was throughout the last several weeks to build in time for self-care (walks, naps, funny movies, a massage, time out with friends) I realized, like Emily and Amelia stated, that I also needed care from others. I had to humble myself and say “I need help. I can’t do this alone.” It was hard to admit that, as someone who by nature, likes to have everything under (my) control. But it was also freeing, to not feel the pressure to do it all by myself AND to have the reassurance that when I call in the cavalry, they come. They show up! How amazing is that! And ya know what, the opposite is also true. I would show up for them! (and have and will again in the future, I’m sure). That’s what we do for one another. We have each other’s backs. I imagine you can immediately think of a handful of folks that are in your village, who would do the same for you and vice versa. That my friends, is self-care. Knowing when you need the support, and then asking for it! That is taking care of you!
I have a couple self-care presentations on the horizon for April (and then some in May and June-the need is so great for these sessions, especially right now!) As I met with my clients to plan and prepare for these events, we talked about possible accommodations in light of doing them virtually. When I do these trainings in person (man do I miss those!) I do a “pair/share” activity where people practice saying what they need to their shoulder neighbor. One idea was to randomly pair attendees up and have them meet in a virtual breakout room to do that activity. Interestingly enough however, the feedback was that people would not feel comfortable with that set up. They would not be ok to just meet up with any random coworker/staff member from their building to share a personal need. I understand the hesitation to be vulnerable like that, so we scratched that plan. But it made me think, it shouldn’t be that way. Expressing your needs shouldn’t feel that vulnerable. We should feel safe to communicate that to anyone, it should be the norm. Self-care is about all of us doing our part to take care of ourselves AND one another.
Find those who are part of your village, who show up for you. Remember you are not alone!