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It’s not a new concept for me to say that working around the clock is not glamorous. I’ve poured myself into job after job lately, and have forgotten to appreciate some of the things that make me the happiest or give me much needed mental breaks. When I think about self-care, I believe it breaks down into three phases: Avoidance, Compartmentalization and Self-assurance. While this definitely isn’t a scientifically-backed framework, I definitely think everyone can find themselves somewhere in this spectrum and that it is cyclical for the millennial jugging many responsibilities.
It starts like this – you hear all of the language baselessly thrown around: “self-care”, “self-preservation”, “finding balance”, “disconnecting”. Got it – now get out of my way, I’ve got three meetings, a photoshoot, three posts to write, and all I’ve had to eat today is iced coffee. Next, you see the memes and Facebook articles – LUSH bath bombs, essential oils, candles, face masks – all of the things that are going to help you reclaim your sanity. So, maybe a bath after work wouldn’t hurt…I would have to cancel that conference call, though. This mentality is straddling Avoidance and Compartmentalization – the acknowledgement that life is a little out of control, but you’re still moving full speed ahead on today’s to-do list.
Compartmentalization definitely feels like you’ve got it all together, but you’re living by alarms and a planner. Your time is meticulously scheduled – including “fun” and you’re scurrying through tasks in anticipation of what’s next on the list. I spend a lot of time here, y’all. The sad truth of the game is that it always catches up to you. This is definitely not an instance where “fake it til you make it” plays out well – the first traffic jam or never-ending meeting that wrecks your schedule is the start of a fast tumble back to Avoidance.
When I’m falling somewhere between the Compartmentalization and Self-Assurance phases, I find myself binging on some of my favorite shows. I love watching television that helps me stay current with both political and social happenings, but provides comic relief when the news isn’t always bright and shining. Mindful television makes me feel like my time off is purposeful and never feels like a day-waster. One of my favorite shows to watch is HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver because it touches on so many issues close to my heart while being simultaneously satirical and activist-oriented. Often, I watch this show and others like it using HBO GO because my office is ever-changing, and well-deserved breaks present themselves at unexpected times.
When you’re self-assured, you are confident in every decision you make. You play an active role in your life and schedule, and can make confident, on-the-fly decisions about taking on new opportunities or declining ones that really aren’t a good fit. Because I wholly believe the spectrum of self-care is cyclical, I’m forever wavering between these stages as new opportunities and obstacles present themselves. When in doubt, do what feels right for you – if a decision ends up not being the best option, approach the problem with a level head and an open mind. Your girl boss intuition will never let you down.
On November 18th, Jon Stewart (another one of my favorites!) will host Night of Too Many Stars on HBO, a live event benefiting NEXT for Autism. Be sure to tune in for some quality entertainment for an excellent cause.