The biggest thing I did for self-care this week is quit my job. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I love my job as a teacher of young children. It has been very fulfilling for me and has been a passion of mine. But in life we are sometimes presented with circumstances and situations that are not healthy for us. And what made leaving the job so hard was not denial of how the job was hurting me physically and emotionally. I recognized that and had already put in a notice. What made leaving the job so hard was the recognition that all of the support from colleagues was not enough to relieve any of the pressure that I felt, and the pressure was so intense that I would not be able to work through my notice. Only one time in my entire career have I ever left a job without a notice, and it was not my proudest moment. The guilt that hit me when I did it this time was almost as bad as the pressure I felt when in the workspace itself. But time heals all wounds, and as time has passed I have felt a lifting of the guilt and a renewed recognition of how detrimental the job was to my overall health.
In today’s society we are bombarded with stressors. From messages that we need to look, act, and be a certain way, to the marginalization of people who do not follow those messages, this is a stressful time in our culture. Studies such as the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences study) show that not only do many of us carry stress and trauma from our childhood, but that stress, along with the added stress gained from our adult experiences, have increased the prevalence of many diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and many mental health issues. Because of this, self-care is becoming a necessity for our culture.
Unfortunately, our society has made “pushing through” and “no pain, no gain” a message of how our lives should look. If we aren’t creating, pounding the pavement, and slaying all that comes into our path, then we aren’t living the life we are supposed to be living. We have to work hard, play hard, exercise more, grind, and prove ourselves through our productivity. This constant focus on being more and doing more can lead to chronic stress, and we can suffer different ailments as a result. Another consequence of this type of attitude is the viewpoint that self-care is for sissies, and that slowing down to breathe and take a moment is a sign of weakness. This is a very dangerous viewpoint to have, and leads to even more chronic stress as we move through our lives.
Self-care is healing. I spent a lot of my younger years involved in the productivity culture. It was rewarding while I was in it, but it led to some serious burnout that I am still trying to recover from. I have had to make self-care a priority in my life, and re-evaluate my goals and dreams for my life so that I prioritize my health while still living a life I love. Wyndsong Wellness is a product of my reflections and re-evaluation, and it is a space where I am exploring what it means to live a fulfilling life outside of the messages that say a fulfilling life requires us to sacrifice our health and well-being in order to achieve. In future posts I will explore what self-care looks like; it is different for everyone because everyone’s tastes are different. For now, just know that self-care can look as small as stopping to take a breath one moment, to something as big as quitting a highly stressful job in another moment.