This post was originally published in December 2017.
At this time of year, life can get overwhelming. There are social, familial, and professional obligations that all demand our full attention. While these demands don’t go away, they do seem more urgent at the end of the calendar year.
It is easy to get caught up in these demands and struggle to prioritize them (and sometimes they don’t allow for reasonable prioritization). It leaves a person feeling frazzled, burnt out, and hating the holiday season.
That isn’t the case for everyone, but I am sure we’ve all had moments in life where we would like to skip straight to January 2nd and move on with our lives.
We’ve run into others who feel this way: try going into a mall around this time of year. I’ll just leave it at that.
Piling on top of the usual life demands are calls for generosity from various organizations at the end of the year. Commercials are filled with pathos-based appeals to get the viewer to donate to various causes. Religious leaders ask their people to open up their wallets and give money, toys, or time to those who are less fortunate. Stories of tragic events lead to calls for donations of food, items, and blood. Passive social pressures increase: social media pages are flooded with posts from others announcing their generosity.
It gets extremely overwhelming.
The issue is, that when we think about the term “generosity” we think about it as giving to others. But look at the definition of the word:
Nowhere in the definition does it specifically define generosity as an act we give to others. It is an act of giving and love, but with no defined recipient.
When we get caught up in the minutiae we completely forget about the importance of taking care of ourselves. We are told that we should be generous with our time and care for others, but it’s extremely hard to care about another person if we don’t take care of ourselves.
If we care for our own needs first we can be more effective for others. And when everything becomes too overwhelming, we might be able to see through it with less stress and frustration.
The Importance of Self-Care
I saw this quote posted on a friend’s Facebook wall and it was the foundation for this post. I kept the original formatting:
self care isn’t always lush bath bombs and $20 face masks. sometimes, it’s going to bed at 8pm or letting go of a bad friend. it’s forgiving yourself for not meeting your impossible standards & understanding u are worth it. self care isn’t always luxury, but a mean for survival
Self-care quotes, personal revelations about self-care, articles expounding self-care all make the rounds on a fairly frequent basis. Some of them connect with us and others we either ignore or go, “yeah, if only it was that easy.”
All the wisdom in the world about self-care/self-generosity does not mean anything if it doesn’t connect with you. And let’s be blunt about the quotes/revelations/articles: they aren’t saying anything new. It’s all steeped in common sense.
We just need them to remind us every so often.
I am not an expert that can espouse pearls of wisdom of how to better take care of yourself, but I do recommend that you be more generous to yourself. Allow yourself to be more selfish.
But this isn’t the same when we think about being selfish. This is a loving selfishness.
Recognize that you need to take care of yourself before you can care for others. The Mayo Clinic recommends that caregivers take care of themselves first before they take care of others. They acknowledge that a person must be selfish if they are going to be an effective long-term caregiver.
Everyone is a caregiver. For some, it’s for another person; for everyone, it’s themselves. We all must care for ourselves.