It’s easy to refer to self-care quite loosely in terms of things like needing ‘me time.’ But I personally found that quite difficult to transfer into a clear image of why I was struggling so much in terms of exhaustion and lack of wellbeing; ultimately turning into burnout and depression.
As with most of my blogs etc, I created this as part of my own processing and ‘therapy’ in order to recover and, hopefully, not relapse. I found it much clearer to see why I had struggled once I had created this ‘infographic;’ I was doing plenty of ‘use of energy’ but virtually no ‘recharging.’ Of course I was tired and miserable when you look at it like this! As I said in that very first blog ‘The Other Side‘ – ‘There’s nothing left to give.’ I was constantly giving of myself but never looked after myself well enough to recharge.
We can’t use battery-powered devices without charging them; this is obvious. Of course we ‘charge up’ to a degree through sleep but it’s not quite as simple as calling this the equivalent of plugging a device in; we are much more complex with the holistic needs that go with humanity.
But there are 2 issues with this:
- Most of the ‘use of energy’ factors are things that life throws at us that we can’t avoid or necessarily remedy so we just have to get on with it.
- Most of the ‘recharging’ ideas are not particularly easy to instigate and are the first things to get pushed out when life is busy.
Getting the balance right is really difficult. Now I am back up to my full hours and duties at work, I have found myself falling back into my old ways (everybody and everything else before self-preservation and self-care due to lack of time and life stresses) with an associated dip in how I feel in myself.
But, somehow, we must make time and opportunity for self-care as much as we can; both for our own wellbeing and for others in our lives. ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ and ‘Put your own oxygen mask on first’ are two commonly used expressions to represent this; we are no use to anyone else if we don’t care for ourselves. I didn’t and look where that got me! There was always something ‘more important’ (so I thought) that needed doing. I ended up letting down myself, my family, my friends and my colleagues. The trouble is I didn’t recognise the issue or manage to change the situation in time so it was hard to prevent.
Self-care actually, for most of us, should be quite doable. Taking short bursts of time out of our day to apply some of our recharging methods isn’t likely to have too much of a detrimental effect on the rest of our time and our lives and will make us happier, more energetic and consequently more productive, efficient and useful to others. Maybe even note it specifically in a diary or calendar to make sure you allocate time for it.
The image above is relatively simplistic and shows the things that I felt related particularly to my own stressors and ‘recharging needs.’ Other people will have different stressors and different ways that they prefer to rest and regain energy. But I hope that the general idea and principle will also be helpful to others.
The human battery needs a chance to recharge otherwise the energy can’t continue to be used.