Invest in Yourself Daily: Why Self Care is Non-Negotiable (Especially as a Recovering Workaholic)
I usually reserve Fridays as my “weekend day,” where I get to just hang out in my energy and have no plans – but I practice self care every day. Daily self care had been my practice for nearly two years when I opened my first business, my grocery store in February 2018, when, for the first time in a long time, I broke that practice. I went twenty-two days without carving out the time for self care because I thought the store was more important. I was giving it my all (hello Capricorn energy) and I had no energy left over when I came home each night. I was exhausted, and not surprisingly, those twenty-two days ended in a major snap.
Not even thirty-minutes into my work day and I was feeling off, starting to feel almost violent, like I wanted to hurt someone. That’s never a good sign, so I went right to my assistant manager and told them I was going home and would be taking the rest of the day off. My schedule was still demanding going forward – I was working about six days per week on average with long hours and few breaks. I wasn’t feeling very free, feeling the weight of my work closing in on me. It didn’t take long for it to become obvious to me that I needed to resume my daily self care practice.
I started practicing self care (key word practicing) in my twenties, but found it difficult to be consistent with it. I would dedicate myself to it for a few weeks and then be feeling so good and full of energy that I’d get into a really social mood. Soon, my self care time would be replaced with social time, and it was never long before I was drained again. After years and years of being stuck in this cycle, it finally clicked that I was treating self care like a diet. I was in the mentality that I would do the practice until I felt good, and then once I felt good, I was done.
I love what Abraham Hicks says in this same vein, that happiness and alignment are not like a college degree where you can achieve it and it’s yours forever – it either Is or Isn’t in the moment. So like shifting your mindset from “diet” to “lifestyle,” I decided to tally each day I practiced self care, without an end goal in sight. Once the tallies had built up, it felt like I had more to lose by giving up, by skipping a day. I’d be giving up on all of that energy I had invested in myself. I counted over 600 days, close to two years, when those twenty-two days at the grocery store came. I had lost my streak, abandoned my daily self care practice – and only twenty-two days later I bottomed out.
After repeating this cycle over and over, I had once again revisited the same lesson – that self care is non-negotiable. Nowadays, even on my days off I still do my self care. I’ve incorporated it into my morning routine, which is the same every day. There are tons of ways to practice self care, but for me, it’s all about doing things that raise my vibration, one little step at a time feeling better and better. I’ll journal, listen to Abraham and other things that lift me up, savor my morning coffee, practice my alignment, and point myself in a positive direction for my day.
I tend to be a workaholic, so I’ve had to really learn how to take a day off. I learned from my days working at a software company that there is always more work that can be done. At one point I was averaging eighty hours per week, working around the clock with international clients as we pushed toward a deadline to go live with our new system. Two days before that deadline arrived, they decided we weren’t ready yet and would be pushing the launch back another two weeks.
Something inside of me snapped, and I had a moment in front of my boss that I wasn’t super proud of. I couldn’t keep working like that and I knew it – and it turned into a mini meltdown. In response she insisted that I take a week off and she even gave me an extra week of vacation, just to go and get my shit together – no laptop, and no work. She had to tell me this because I tend to fall into those patterns of being a workaholic, and I wasn’t able to see it for myself until it had become too much to bear.
The contrast between then and now is hilarious to me, because now I’m off work four and a half days a week, I have all of this freedom and flexibility – and I still work seven days a week if I’m not paying close attention to scheduling days off for myself. I wanted to be done working at the grocery store, sooner or later, and have seven days a week to devote to my spiritual business and everything else that I’m doing. But then it clicked that maybe the reason I was still working those days at the store was because I didn’t really want to give up that work and then have all that time just to work some more. What I really wanted was better balance in how much downtime I take, no matter what work I’m doing.
I wanted to take those extra two and a half days and invest more in slowing down, enjoying, savoring, and just really being present in what I’m doing while also taking the time to love and care for my physical body, which is often planted in front of a desk or computer. I do want to give up more time at the store, I’ve realized, but not for the same reasons – I truly want more downtime. This was an important realization for a recovering workaholic. I think I’ll always be a recovering workaholic, but I can choose to slow myself down – and it feels so good when I do.
When I took that day off of work after twenty-two straight days of neglecting to care for myself, I got home and finally started to relax. As I got into it far enough and was able to really relax into my energetic body, I could feel that neglect, and I knew I needed to do this more often. I had been so intertwined in the outside world and everything I was doing, and to detach from that felt phenomenal. I closed my eyes, faced the sun and let the world fall away, feeling the warm sunlight on my body as I stood there in my front yard, soaking it all up for about ten minutes (I may have looked like a crazy person but I wholeheartedly don’t care!)
I’m not going to stop working on all of my projects and business ventures, but I am going to focus on keeping my cup full. I tell my clients all the time that we can’t pour from an empty cup, and if you never stop to fill yours up, you risk crashing in the critical moment you worked so hard for, unable to be your best self when it matters most. Consistently investing time in yourself is keeping your cup full. It’s not always easy, especially if you’re a recovering workaholic like me, but it’s a practice – a practice of taking time for self care even when you’re busy doing things you love. When your work is important to you, then what’s really the most important work is maintaining your energy and taking care of yourself, and being mindful of any emotions that might be bottling or piling up. We all hold so much power inside of ourselves, and I’ve learned that by taking the time to honor, nurture, and connect with that each day, life only gets better and better.
Thank you for reading, dear friends! Find more articles like this one on the Owning Authenticity blog and hear more stories on my i Learned podcast. Explore the rest of my offerings on my website www.owningauthenticity.com