As a full-time employee at Chicory and a blogger (a hobby that I love, but that eats up all of my evenings and weekends), some days it barely feels like I have time to walk my dogs or wash my hair. And then there are those if you who manage a blog and a family filled with kiddos! (You gals and guys are incredible, by the way.)
We're all busy... and nothing is less fun than talking about how busy we are. So instead, let's all take a collective sigh and admit that self care could come higher on our to do lists. Below are some of the practices I've adopted to keep me sane. Rather than touting that "treat yourself" rhetoric, these small reminders are open to your interpretation. I hope they help you like they've helped me!
Always Be Early
Personally, the busier I get, the more anxiety I experience. Anxiety about to-dos and deadlines, surely, but also anxiety about meetings and phone calls. As somewhat of an introvert, having face-to-face chats with potential partners (or even strategic phone calls with existing ones) feels stressful. I feel like I need to be prepared so as not to waste anyone's time. I obsess about how I'll find an unfamiliar face in a coffee shop. So much so that I get distracted for, like, the hour leading up to the appointment. Losing that hour only makes things worse.
That's why I always arrive early, mentally and physically for meetings. Arriving early allows you to survey a space, adjust to the energy and think through your plan a bit. This doesn't just apply to meetings: apply the idea to your blog content, your traffic goals, your social plans. Just knowing three weeks ahead of time that I have dinner plans with a friend helps me to feel at ease and know what's on the horizon.
Have a Mantra
This might sound cheesy, but is a life lesson I learned when--of all things--I was a Theology major in college. I studied early Christian spirituality, specifically, but my studies took me through the writings of all the major world religions. Something most religions and spiritualities have in common? Repetitive prayer.
I'm still not sure if any one religion makes sense for me, but I did discover the power of literally saying the same reminder out loud in moments of weakness, fear, stress or hardship. In some meditative practices, a custom mantra gets assigned to you. In most major religions, there's a prayer you can say that you've said a million times. In my yoga class, my instructor simply has us breathe in with the words "I am," and out with the word "OK."
For some, these words can feel comforting in their messages. For me and many others, simply the act of reciting something familiar brings peace. Find a mantra that works for you; it can even be a song lyric or quote from a book that you love. Write it down on a post it, recite it on the subway and use it as a reminder to center yourself on busy days.
There's No Need For Heroics
At my first job out of college, a high pressure theater gig that included overnight shifts and coordination of hundreds of backstage vendors, I had a boss who changed my life. Melissa had been stage managing for over fifteen years and for anyone who knows what goes on backstage at a Broadway show or during New York City Ballet tech rehearsals, you know that a stage manager literally calls the shots.
With so many people depending on her throughout her career, often in foreign cities as she managed touring productions, she described to me how she was often tempted to take a bullet, metaphorically, whenever those dramatic moments would come up. Things like staying late at rehearsals in solidarity with other workers, or taking the worst room in the motel so her colleagues were comfortable.
But she learned quickly, and also taught me, that there's no need for heroics if you aren't doing a job that quite literally requires heroism (firefighters, soldiers...). Are you a blogger or a Marketing Manager for a startup company, like me? Remind yourself that, even if it's instinctual for you, picking up everyone's slack is not your job alone.
Don't Shame Yourself; Breaking "Rules" is OK
One thing I'm good at when it comes to self care? Vacations. I love to travel and I do it often. Just this year, I've taken two week-long vacations and four long weekend trips. When I take those trips, I don't unplug despite colleagues and loved ones urging me to do so. Why? Because I know what works for me.
Personally, I tried to unplug once upon a time and not answer work or blogging-related emails while on vacation. It made me WAY MORE stressed! Returning to work after a 10-day jaunt in London meant an overflowing inbox and so many conversations that had moved along five steps without my input. Now, I allow myself to break that rule and check in as I want to. Part of what I love about vacations is sitting in a coffee shop and plugging away at some of my usual tasks rather than constantly running from one museum to the next.
Lots of people will give you advice to "say yes more," or "say no to more things that you can't handle." I say rules are too hard; they leave me feeling ashamed when I break them. Instead, trust your gut, know what's right for you in that moment, don't over-commit... and if you do, forgive yourself.