How do you know the news is big? When the friend with whom you normally share silly texts instead sends you an email — in my case, with the subject line “oh, sister….”
My friend Olivia, one of the funniest, hardest-working people I know, had just given notice at her job. Nightmare of a job. To use her words, giving notice was “an ultimate act of self-care.”
Cue “I Am Woman.” Or if you’re a guy, maybe “Eye of the Tiger.”
Cue any song you want — but that’s what ultimate self-care does: brings us so much joy and relief that we just want to crank up the music and practically bear-hug strangers. (Think Tommy Boy, when an elated Chris Farley does just that: throws his arms around a random classmate, laughs maniacally and gushes, “I wish we’d known each other. This is a little awkward.”)
Unlike ordinary self-care — getting a massage, for example, or taking a vacation — ultimate self-care does more than just feel good at the time. It changes us. It changes how we see ourselves, it increases our capacity to handle future stress, and it opens up possibilities we didn’t see before.
Whether you work directly with the public, in a high-pressure boardroom, an office, or care for others professionally or at home, ultimate self-care is about establishing habits and thought patterns that will keep you feeling empowered and in control — a victor instead of a victim.
A few thoughts on what ‘ultimate self-care’ folks do differently:
1. They let go of no-win situations. They don’t shirk their moral, ethical or professional responsibilities. But when nothing they do will ever be enough, they give themselves permission to change course. They invest their energy where it will give them a positive return. This starts with letting go of no-win situations (e.g., waiting for someone else to change).
2. They invest in themselves: their health, education, skills, and their own capacity to contribute. They welcome opportunities from their employer, but they don’t rely on them. They know that opportunities for self-investment are everywhere, including online and at their local library.
3. They ask for help. Especially when it comes to family caregiving, they know how to enlist much-needed support. (This is one I’ve had to learn: When one person is doing most of the work, it’s sometimes due to a fear of asking or an unwillingness to delegate. Not always, but sometimes.)
4. They set limits. For example, they know how much volunteer work they can comfortably take on, how many nights they’re willing to be away from home, and what they’re willing/not willing to sign up for. They purposely keep a little energy on reserve.
5. They take decisive action. For example, it wasn’t easy for my friend Olivia to walk away from her job — or paycheck. Other people had to be considered. Even though it was the right move, it was still sad to leave. But she did it because the whole situation just wasn’t sustainable or even safe. Talk about the ultimate act of self-care.
Take care of yourself fiercely. The world can get another employee, board member, volunteer, and the like. But neither you nor those who love you most could ever get another you.
Self Help on Huffington Post