Self-care is a term people are fast becoming more and more familiar with. And for good reason, there is no doubt that finding or learning new ways to cope with stress is important - and for so long there has been a focus on ‘hustle until you die’ mentalities - even more so for us in freelancer world. So, for the self employed, we ask, what does self-care have to do with self employment?
It’s basically a permanent topic when you are talking with friends, and yet it remains a different question than work-life balance, and it’s no surprise - surely everyone you know is experiencing their life get faster and more hectic. It’s actually very strange the term self-care is so foreign or such a new-age, occasionally considered ‘Leftist’ philosophy... It is still far too much for us all to cope with both at work and at home in private. If you work independently, you have to be available anyway 24/7 sometimes, and in private life you have family, friends, hobbies and health all waiting for your attention. If you want to keep up, there are hardly any chances to refuse the rising tempo and that can make it really hard for self employed people especially. This is why it is becoming more and more important to create opportunities for yourself, in between the workload to calm down, to relax and to do something good for yourself. Sounds really easy, or? To take care of oneself.
However, for many of us, we find ourselves having difficulties with that, because first of all who really knows how to do it, without actively learning it. Second, most of all, the time is missing (business and hustle always seems to come first!). Or thirdly, some may find it just silly or choose to demonize it as esoteric nonsense (Should I put purple flowers and fragrance oil in the room or what?).
One thing is very clear at this point: the number of mental illnesses such as burnout, depression and similar has increased rapidly in recent years and it does not look like it is slowing down. Stress can also cause many other illnesses, such as heart and circulatory problems, stomach and digestive problems, anxiety, sleep disorders, and more. In the past the need to do something for themselves was simply ignored or ridiculed, but it’s 2019 now, and we have a vast amount of studies today that prove that it is essential for one's physical and mental health to take care of oneself. The term for it is self-care. (Besides, what is wrong with some flowers or nice smelly oils, anyway?)
What is behind this term?
Understanding the term need to go in steps. Firstly, it is that practising self-care is the first step to recognize and understand one's own emotional and physical needs. The second step is to learn to prioritize these needs and care about their fulfillment - whatever it takes. This will help you to be in tune with your needs and gain clarity, moving from strength to strength. It is essential to accept that self care and your own needs belong together. More simply, some people would be inclined to say self-care is when we understand everything we do to promote and support the maintenance of our mental, physical and emotional health.
Sounds very plausible in theory. In fact, some people can easily implement this in their lives. Unfortunately for most however, the reality is different. Humans push our own needs aside, and often do not want to know about it or deny our deep-seated needs, or simply ignore them. If we were to ask 100 to answer these questions honestly, the answers would certainly be sobering. Some will probably not have access to their own needs at all, because they have never learned to perceive them at all. Another part of our souls may know deep down what is really going on, but for some reason we can not admit that (out of fear, shyness, lack of acceptance for oneself). And most of it will say: I'm happy when I get things done everyday, both professionally and privately. For self-care, I simply have no time "to take care of myself". And here is the proof in the pudding. One thing is clear, you are already trapped in a vicious cycle at this stage and pretending you cannot make time for yourself will likely make you feel worse. The good news: there is always a way out.