One day the world is darker and the couch is comfier...
This may come as a shock to you, but social workers get burned out. It's true. There is this perfect balance we all try to reach- somewhere between being a superhero, and collapsing in pile of goo on the ground. Being human can be extremely frustrating at times. My heart is literally always in the game, but my psyche doesn't always muster up the "umph" that I would like to bring to the table. I get so much fulfillment from creative expression, friendships, professional growth, and parenting- but at the end of the day- how much is left? I've talked about self-care before. In fact, it was one of the first articles I published on this bad boy. For good reason. Self-care is the only way to survive in the world of mental health without ending up on the other side of the couch (and believe me, I've been there). Usually, burnout sneaks up so slowly that you can't even see it coming. One day- the world is darker and the couch is comfier, and before you know it- you've lived off of carbs and sugar for months, lost touch with friends, and got a little fluffier around the middle. No thank you!
Things get real pretty quickly...
This isn't my first rodeo. When I see the writing on the wall, things get real pretty quickly. My body typically has two settings during burnout. 1) Coffee IV 2) Hitting snooze 8,523 times every morning. I've learned that the thing I need to do is the opposite of what I want to do. I need to exercise, but I want to fall into a sedentary coma. I need to eat whole foods, but want something in a package that heats quickly in the microwave with little effort. Not to panic. At this point, I literally force myself to engage. Last weekend, I hooked myself up with some epic self-care by doing the following:
- Got my hair done- it doesn't sound like a big deal, but ever since my years of box-color and bald spots from self-inflicted makeovers, actually getting my hair "done" is always a luxury. Plus, I've allowed myself the spoilage of an Aveda salon for over a year, and the aromatherapy coupled with complimentary hand massages are the definition of decadence.
- Scheduled writing time outside of my home. I've found that taking time to switch hats is helpful. While I'm at work, I've got the social work hat on. At home, I've got the mom hat on. At a coffee shop- I'm Audrey....the writer. I can get lost in my blogging world- plotting and scheming for my next opportunity at growth. I put in about ten hours this weekend- and it flew- as all things that bring purpose tend to do.
- Gilmore Girls. I admit it. I took the time to binge on the new reboot. It was like a reunion with an old friend, and worth every single second I snuggled on the couch with my favorite blanket listening to run-on sentences with bated breath- for the ending that nearly killed me. No spoilers here!
- Ample dose of BFF's. While social connectivity is by far- one of the best ways to skirt burnout and depression, it's not always the first thing you run to when swirling down the drain at lightening speed. Lucky for me- I have friends that are persistent. Sushi brings me great joy, as does my friend soulmate. We exchanged "moments of silence" over inside jokes and laughed enough to make my cheeks hurt. Second round of BFF's over coffee and naughty yummy brunch coupled with commiserating commentary, and validation. Hugs fill the tank.
- Hiking. I've reflected at length before about my deep and unfaltering love for the foothills. Despite the nippy weather, I chose to layer in excess, cart my dog across town to soak up the high desert blustering sagebrush and grassy hills. It's like housecleaning for my brain- and a success at that.
- I cleaned. I believe strongly in the saying, "Your insides match your outsides." After a chaotic work week, my home looks a lot like the place was ransacked by savages. I put aside several hours of pure 90's grunge music to clean to and organize the inevitable shift to Christmas decorations. Everything feels at least 10% better when laundry is done. Am I right?
- Home cooking. After this ridiculous amount of self-care, I got down to basics. Roast beast, mashed potatoes, gravy, and veggies. Ooh- also homemade pie. I realize that this doesn't win any Mediterranean Diet award with the dieticians I work with, but I needed some Idahoan soul food to wrap up the weekend.
- Snuggles. Daughter snuggles make everything better. It's like her hugs are the anecdote to anything that could ever try to drain my joy. She is love personified.
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Fill up my tank...
The truth is, one weekend of self-care isn't the cure- but it's a darn good start. Like I tell others (and myself- when I listen), you've got to put yourself first- or you have nothing to give away to others. Social work is my identity. It's not exactly a hat I can ever fully take off. I wouldn't give it up for anything, because it's who I was born to be. Today I'm thankful for self-care, because I have a lot more to give from this heart of mine- and I'm going to bend over backwards to fill up my tank, so I can keep on giving. Happy Gratitude Tuesday. What are you thankful for?