We think there is always another time where I can engage in better self-care. While we are in school or graduate school, we think, “when I am finished with school I will be more balanced.”
When we are building our business we think, “I will take better care of myself when the business is doing well and I have others helping me.”
It just never happens. You know and I know that life never slows down. Often, it slows down when we retire, but at that point, we are too beat up and tired and sometimes we have spent all our energy and have nothing left to enjoy.
Kicking the can down the road is the curse of self-care. There is never any time for practicing balance and we always put it off until another day that, sometimes, never comes.
What is Self Care? Definition
So, what is self-care? Self-care is about balance in our lives. I looked for a definition of self-care and found this from PsychCentral,
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.
We need to take care of ourselves mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Failure to neglect any of these areas will result in a life that is fractured. I am speaking from experience.
Self-care does not equate to narcissism or always putting yourselves before others. Self-care says that if I want to help my friends and family be the best they can be, then I have to take care of myself
As my friend Samantha says, “Take care of your number one asset. You.”
Why is self-care important?
Why is self-care so important? If one area of our life is off, it causes problems for the rest of our life. We might mask it for a time, but eventually, we will succumb. None of us are immune.
Certainly, when a celebrity dies of a mental health-related issue, it sheds light on the issue of depression, isolation, loneliness, and other mental health issues.
In fact, we know that success, fame, and wealth do not insulate us from mental health issues.
Our health and energy are tied to our ability to navigate self-care and maintain a balanced life. We know the dangers of mental health and self-care as freelancers who often face isolation.
How to exercise self-care
I am no expert in exercising self-care. Truth is most of us are just trying to cross items off our to-do lists. I know that and so do you. I also know that when one thing suffers, I often come to a halt. Sometimes, for me, nothing helps more than taking a nap. Other times, I need to get away from work.
So how can we exercise self-care? It isn’t rocket science, but it is extremely hard. Jim Valvano was a legendary college basketball coach at North Caroline State University. Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 46, Valvano passed away in April of 1993 at the age of 47. Along the way, he reached millions with his inspiring speeches including his acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award, during the 1993 ESPY Awards.
Prior to the speech, Valvano relates that on the way to the awards he suffered from sickness, and he was able to make it to the podium with help of a friend. On that night, he delivered a profound an inspirational speech. Among the things he said was a recipe for a good day,
When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives.
Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy.
But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.
Sometimes we over complicate things. Valvano’s recipe of laugh, think, and emotions moved to tears is simple and effective.
Valvano also has been quoted as saying,
A person really doesn’t become whole, until he becomes a part of something that’s bigger than himself.
Find something that is bigger than yourself to be a part. It might be your faith, your community, family or something else.
If you are looking for some suggestions on exercising self-care, Norma Nazish offers several in her article on Forbes.
Some of the things I have identified, in my experience, that help include:
- Community – combat loneliness
- Breaks – unplug from our world, especially digital
- A Healthy Lifestyle
- Music – music that expresses and moves our emotions
- Meditation and Reading
- Pets – Studies show that pets help relieve stress
- Practice Gratitude
Don’t neglect to do things you love. Freelance consultant Austin L. Church reflects on the biggest mistakes that freelancers make in his article on Medium. According to Church, he failed to take advantage of the freedom he has had as a freelancer. H said, “You have the freedom. Freedom is a currency you spend.”
The mistake I have made well over 100 times is not spending the freedom freelancing affords me. Perhaps I have spent it more than most. Yet, I wish I had gone fishing at least once every single month since April 2009.
Why does Austin say this?
Fishing feeds my soul because it pulls me to God-breathed places of exceptional beauty and solitude.
Take Church’s advice and be willing to spend that currency. Use it to do something you love.
Self-care in the WordPress Community
So, what can we say about self-care? We need to exercise that part of our life. We need to take care of ourselves, but we also need to look out for our fellow freelancer friends.
In a blog post at Freelancers Union, writer Tyra Seldon suggests asking. She watched another freelancer she admired take her own life and wondered what if someone had asked. She committed to asking the question, “You good?”
And that is why it is important that we check up on one another. One of my favorite methods for doing so is a simple, colloquial expression: “You good?”
The other day, a WordPress developer asked a similar question on Facebook. He told me he had received private messages all day from people responding. We have to look out for each other. We have to be willing to ask, “You good?”
How do we help each other? I want to highlight a couple communities within the WordPress ecosystem that you can be part to help with self-care and our mental health.
WP Hugs is a passion project of Leo Gopal.
WPHugs offers an open safe space to connect & share about our mental & emotional well-being with other like-minded people in the WordPress Community. The aim is to raise the bar on our awareness of Mental Health issues and what it truly means to us as a community and to truly realize what is a balanced life. WPHugs
Dan Maby of Blue 37 Digital launched WP&UP. WP&UP is promoting positive mental health.
Support & promote positive mental health within the WordPress community
WP&UP recognises that members of the WordPress community can potentially manifest mental health issues from a variety of pressures. The WP&UP Health Hubs are designed to provide holistic support for the individual. WP&UP
WP&UP launched a video campaign called #PressForward with various WordPress freelancers reading from a script. If you wish to submit your reading of the script for a future video, you can learn more here.
The first video can be viewed here.
Both communities have Slack channels with ways to reach out to each other and help. Don’t be isolated. Don’t neglect self-care. Let’s lean on each other.
Are you apart of a community of support? Drop your thoughts in the comments below