From every facet of life, whether in our homes or workplaces, we are bombarded with messages, pressures and expectations to put our productivity before our health and wellbeing.
A great indicator of this grander cultural and societal programming is how often I hear from others expressing feelings of guilt and fear of indulgence when discussing their self-care practices.
It is no surprise when so many of us neglect achieving a work-life balance, get adequate rest and prioritize eating a balanced, wholesome diet when we are raised with the understanding that these very standards are not important. We are encouraged, at times on a deeply subconscious level, to think of making time for ourselves as selfish or of low priority. This is possibly one of the greatest and most detrimental lies we are fed.
It is a lie and expectation that leads many of us to pushing well beyond our limits, burning out and grinding away the workweek from a place of no energy or hope of recuperation.
It is of little shock that many of us fall to the clenches of despair and hopelessness after weeks, months and years of this same repetition, desperately rising to the demand of endless hustling with no sight of rest and rejuvenation to fuel our spirit.
It is an unfortunate reality we must handle, for the very systems in which we navigate do not give us the cornerstone to support ourselves in our self-care journeys.
But the more we find skillful means to do the work for ourselves and model it to others, the more we participate in shifting this current problematic paradigm. We can see it happening already in our lifetime. Think at the major shift we've witnessed in the past decade as the collective awareness has grown around subjects such as diet, mindfulness and self-love/care. Today, these topics have grown into trending, household names.
» We are changing the world.
It may feel like quite the load to carry, recreating the way you treat and care for yourself in a society that doesn’t always encourage you to do so… in a society that expects you to neglect your care in the name of “progress” and profit.
No doubt to truly see this shift in standard of living, we need to see changes on a level of policy, shifting the expected hours of work per-work week, making minimum wage reflect local and regional standards of living so that people can support themselves and providing increased paid vacation days, just to name a few. I do not make this call to invalidate and negate the additional layers and circumstances that make striking this balance all the more difficult, such as low socioeconomic status, family size, migrant-status, access to healthy, affordable food, etc.
While we wait or support the tireless efforts of change makers to enact these much needed shifts in our society, recognize that to make your self-care a priority is a revolutionary act. By prioritizing time for your health, you are actively going against cultural programming that tells us our pursuit of living a balanced, healthy life is disposable.
» Let’s start a revolution.
Self-love/care is a path worth venturing on, no matter how difficult it may feel at times to juggle the demands of everyday life. It’s worthwhile because putting in the effort, time and energy to show up for you gifts immediate results.
It gifts feelings of joy, relaxation and replenished energy to be of greater service to yourself and others. It makes you that more capable as a servant of change to this world.
» Give permission to your care.
Dissolve feelings of guilt or selfishness around showing up for your care. A common occurrence of these feelings is when others express guilt in their care when they have so many other things to accomplish.
Take a study from your own life. As soon as we tick off every task on one to-do list, another one forms. There will always be an endless list of jobs demanding to be addressed. Cultivate the practice of placing “rest,” “drink a smoothie,” or “enjoy that lavender, Epsom salt bath,” next to “meet that deadline,” “pick up the dry cleaning” or whatever tasks are banging at the back door.
We won’t always get everything done. And we can all learn to be lighter in our approach in productivity and accept that as okay. You are only human. There are only 24 hours in a day. And within the constraints of that reality, we will have to let go and surrender that some things may have to be held out for another day.
Most importantly, I want to encourage you to celebrate your efforts. Not many people dive into lifestyles that incorporate health promoting practices and get it perfect the first try. Shoot, I even struggle with consistency at times. The good news is, the more you choose yourself by choosing a life that truly honors yourself, the less you'll accept anything less. So celebrate each time you do something that makes you feel vibrant and alive, even if it’s not everyday.
The Dalai Lamai, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die; and then dies never having really lived.”
~ You are the grand architect of your life ~
What are you going to build?
I implore you to build a life that prioritizes your health, spirit, passions and creativity. Not only for yourself. But for all beings and the well-being of this Earth. Now how can we call that selfish?