I learned about the necessity of self-care before my social work career even began.
While getting my Masters, instructors repeatedly drilled into us two things: go to therapy and figure out a self-care plan. The former was important because of our clients. We can't help people out of our own brokenness. Not being aware of our issues could, in fact, damage the very clients we're trying to help. The latter was important because if we did not feed our souls first, there was no way we could be of any good to others.
By the time I started working for hospice, I had a good idea of what my self-care plan looked like and how to implement it. I spent the next several years honing it, keying in to what helped me rest, relax, and restore myself. It's second nature now.
I derived great joy from helping my patients' caregivers figure out a self-care routine, no matter how much or little help they had. Many of them were the very definition of burned out and there was often very little give in their daily schedules. For some, it may have only been 5 minutes a day but those 5 minutes changed things and helped them build up to 15 minutes. (Talk about fringe hours!)
Perhaps it's easier to see the necessity for self-care when it comes to taking care of a dying loved one. It's just as necessary in our average day-to-day. Even though I'm retired from social work, my self-care routine remains crucial to my well-being. The habits we set today can have a profound impact on our future.
This is why I'm thrilled my friend Jessica Turner wrote The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You. I am constantly impressed by the way she carves out time for her interests and passions while working full-time and raising her three kids with her husband.
I knew this book would be helpful to so many but it was tempting to think it wasn't for me. After all, I don't have any children and have yet to meet Mr. Right. Plus, I practice self-care like it's my job.
Mothers might be the book's primary audience but all women would benefit from reading it. People may think singles have nothing but "fringe hours" but that's simply not true. We may have fewer people to prioritize but we have to juggle work, home, and life on our own. Of course we need to practice self-care!
Jessica defines balance as "a satisfying arrangement of elements + emotional stability." I've kept this in mind the last few months as my budget has shrunk and the number of jobs I'm working has increased. I'm making a special point to stick to my sleep schedule and making many trips to the library to feed my book habit. I'm being honest with my closest friends about my stress levels. I'm doing my best to take care of myself amidst the unknowns.
The Fringe Hours affirmed my self-care routine, while identifying areas needing growth. For instance, I'm not good at asking for help. That section positively stumped me. As a single woman, I'm used to going it alone by virtue of the fact that there's no one doing life by my side. But there are times I could have used help and didn't even recognize it, much less identify who I could ask. The majority of things still come down to me but I'm keeping an eye out for when a helping hand would do me good or even when I just need a sounding board before I act.
I couldn't have guessed it but I read this book at just the right time. That's why it was a special honor to be part of the Bloom (in)courage Book Club while they discuss The Fringe Hours. (I almost fell over when I got Jess's email asking me to be a part of it. I get to discuss a book about self-care AND represent single ladies?! SIGN ME UP.)
We had such a blast taping the sessions and we easily could have kept talking. Even now, I think about things I could have added. That's what a good conversation starter is all about.
Here are the videos so far:
- Meet Our Guests. I hope the way I introduced myself makes you laugh because that's the only reason I said it that way.
- Chapters 2 & 3: Self-Imposed Pressures, Guilt, and Comparison. I'm no longer on a social media sabbatical, in case you're wondering why you see me on Facebook and Twitter, but I do take regular breaks. It helps me push the reset button on all areas of my life, which, as a Type Four, I sometimes need.
I hope you'll be as empowered by The Fringe Hours as I was. Here's to practicing self-care, no matter your stage of life. May your soul be refreshed and your spirit light.
How do you practice self-care?
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