Self-Care in a Self-Diagnosed Workaholic’s Life
I have spent the better part of my working life, nine years to be precise, caring mostly about work. It is only now I am beginning to find a purpose beyond it. I have been obsessed with my work and yes, I was the quintessential corporate brat: loud, aggressive, ambitious & edgy.
Of course, I am still ambitious. But I am beginning to understand what real ambition means, and that’s why I am not in “chase mode” all the time. I am taking time to relish, explore and grow.
The tips here are therefore in two parts :
For the current workaholic ( those who love their job, spends endless hours at work, gets all their highs & lows from work);
and someone transitioning to finding an identity beyond their day job and therefore exploring & discovering their purpose (precisely where I am right now).
So what is self care to me?
Self-care has always been about connecting with one’s self. Being a true blue Pisces & a Chinese Dragon; I play so many roles that sometimes I forget who exactly am I. So self-care for me is just to reconnect with my core, and do things that bring me joy – real joy – not “I want to share it on social media” joy. I also am an extreme extrovert when I am around people but it soon drains me and I have always craved my alone time to recharge!
Let’s define, what could it be, for you:
Self Care for the “Workaholic & Proud” group :
- Do One thing every day that you loved as a child (if not every day, start with once a week).
For me, that is reading. Books have been my best friends since my first copy of Enid Blyton or Panchatantra tales and even in my busiest, craziest times, I always made time to read. I felt unanchored if I wasn’t reading. What is it for you? A sport you played, a game, a hobby? Do that. Every single week! Simple trick? Add them to your calendar, planner, BuJo, To-Do. Just like you prioritise work & family, prioritise time for this too.
- Free up your commute time
Don’t take calls or read mails while you’re on the way to work or coming back. I stick to this like a holy ritual. I use my commute to gaze out of the window, daydream, listen to music, positive audios or sometimes take a short nap. Anything that anchors me in the present moment works.
- Create Something
Do you cook? Do you write? Do you love gardening? Do you play music or dance? I am sure, there’s something you do, that leads to creation. If not, just pick up an adult colouring book, and start colouring. It is therapeutic, relaxing and fun! I loved doing it, still do! And I found out I loved photography, while I was escaping in Ladakh with a bunch of strangers; and that led me to start my own IG page, which then led to a bookstagram page. You never know what can happen, once you start creating.
- Breaks with Nature
My favourite!! I just made sure I utilized every damn long weekend and ran off to the mountains – even if it was a solo trip to Landour, or a long trip to Ladakh. I love mountains, and no matter how crazy work got, I found a way to visit. There is some healing magic in the mountains, and I need it to replenish my soul. These breaks helped me so much to catch up with peace of my soul.
I love sleeping. But I also love staying up all night and sleeping in late; which is nearly impossible in conventional offices. But by ensuring I was always ahead in terms of my work deliverables. I could afford to get into work later than others. Even if I didn’t, I find time to take a nap and to sleep in. Naps recharge our nervous system and creativity. So if you’re feeling blocked, you’ve likely over-worked your system and a 10-minute nap can really reboot your system.
And, for all the days & hours, when none of the above is possible, I would recommend watching re-runs of your favourite light-hearted shows. I watch re-runs of Harry Potter or FRIENDS or FULL HOUSE (my three “pick me up” programs) and stay on my couch Don’t judge yourself for doing this. On some days, this too is okay.
Even lions find time for self care.
Self Care for “the exploring my purpose” group :
As I spent more time with myself, I slowly started realizing the kind of woman I want to be. So most of my self-care has actually started to help me manifest those qualities I wish to see in myself in terms of my personal growth and self-development.
So here are my current self-care activities; that are more aligned to my self development journey:
- Food & wellness:
I cannot believe that I had neglected this for so long. This is where too much self-love turned into becoming a spoilt brat. I ate all sorts of junk and didn’t move a muscle. Till I had this sudden realization that the first thing I want to do when I say ‘self-love’ is to take care of my body. Since then, I cut down on my alcohol intake, removed the meat from my diet (which was also more of a conscience-based decision) and started working out, even if it was a 15-20 mins walk around the block. Honestly, my body is so grateful for me showing the love in just the right ways.
- Gratitude Journal
I used to think this is a new age fad until I did it. I have been journaling gratitude for three months now and it has helped me through some really difficult times. Being grateful, instead of complaining all the time, just shifts my energy to a positive space and helping me to feel more content, satisfied and happy.
- Sit with your silence
Some call it meditation, some call it prayer, some call it communicating with the Universe. I call it sitting with my silence. I had attended a 10 day Vipassana course 4 years back, and I am reapplying those learnings now. I sit with my silence, I observe, I let my thoughts pass through, I feel the energy flowing through my body and that’s it. This brings me such calm! I recommend everyone to just sit in silence for 10 mins. Sit with your silence. Again: put it in your calendar as an event with the Universe/yourself.
- Learn something new
That is what self-care is all about right? Caring about who you are, your soul and learning and doing stuff that nourishes it. For me, it has been attempts at BuJo (loving it), doodling & watercolours (not very good at it), cooking (getting better at it) & tarot (loving it). Find something that calls out to your heart – and start exploring – without the pressure of acing it. It’s so relieving to just do something because it’s joyful. Also, I promise you, if you show up consistently and passionately, the right resources and help will come to you.
- Find your tribe
I know in most cases, self-care sounds individualistic but it does include your tribe too. At work, who is that friend in front of whom you can be your true self, even cry if it comes to that? Call your 2 am friend. Connect with your childhood bestie, who’s seen your journey and forgives and accepts you; despite all the times you’ve not been available. I love my solitude; my tribe understands that. But I still make sure I stay connected (I, however, learnt it the hard way.) Hold on to those who understand your vibe and connect with them more often. This is such a beautiful part of caring for your self and your emotional well-being. Your tribe inspires conversations and creativity in you. Our tribe is indeed our angels who give us cues every now and then to find our purpose and our own selves.
- Soak in the sunshine, dance in the moonlight
Take the time to soak in the bright sun and feel the warmth (I think it’s magic, it is also something I have started doing recently). And since I am a forever moonchild, I have found answers to my biggest problems. If not that, the moon energy is so comforting that it helps me connect with my self and my purpose even more deeply. Try it, next time there’s a full moon, step out and gaze at it and let its light illuminate you. I promise you, it will be magic! And for those seeking some tangible benefit from this seemingly esoteric activity, there are tonnes of studies that show that just some daily exposure to morning sunlight can uplift your mood, energy levels & give you a good dose of VIT D. And star gazing moon watching is known to calm your nerves and ground you to the present moment.
So that’s it from me! I am still figuring out my own self-care routine or must do items, some of the above have helped me through the toughest of times. In the end, I think it all depends on how much you’re willing to invest in your emotional, mental, spiritual and physical well-being.
I have been on the opposite end of the spectrum; where I sacrificed all, to chase one milestone and then another. Till all I felt was a disconnect between who I wanted to be and who I was becoming.
But the final question, from any time-crunched, work crazed person (much like myself) would be: Ok, so then what? How did it “really” help you? I mean, honestly, it is not just the moments of peace & happiness we seek right? We also want a bigger prize in the end.
So here are some of the positive changes I’ve seen :
- Because I have so many activities I enjoy, that are productive and mean something to me beyond of work: I am actually more productive in my actual work. Why? Because I want to wrap it up in time & I enjoy everything more! I’ve taken time from my mindless days & turned it into mindful moments.
- I’ve just become more grateful & less complaining about my day job, and that has shifted the energy around me. From a perpetual state of anxiety & “what next”, where’s my next promotion or step up the ladder; I am learning & growing as a professional by focusing on the now. And being grateful, that I have a wonderful job, that lets me enjoy all my other activities as well.
- I don’t compare any longer, well most times. This has been my biggest win! I’ve always been a front runner in school, debates, work – but I don’t know when it became less about me, and more about “beating someone else”. Don’t get me wrong, competition is good, but I redefined my goal post; to present me & past me. I no longer worry about other people, their wins or losses. I’ve kicked relativity bias right out of the window.
- I create. Like this blog post, like book reviews, photographs, wonky doodles. And I love it. I’ve taken my passions and turned them into “tangible” things and I continue to learn. And sometimes, they inspire people & I feel so blessed.
- I connect better with people who vibe in similar ways. Instead of wasting time cribbing, one-upping others, stuck in a spiral of either superior ego or some insecurity complex, petty politics . . . I now connect with people who flip the view to more empathetic, positive, filled with light one 🙂 (Like this platform, Barrfi & Shivani!).
I am actually reminded of Eat, Pray, Love here: To paraphrase Richard telling Liz “Hey Groceries, if you just remove all the space in your mind that’s occupied by your past, hurt, anxieties etc; just empty the space; you will feel God gush in with such force, it will blow you over.” (Ok I didn’t look it up, it’s how I remember it, so might be a little off, but you get the hint).
By making time for self-care, connecting with myself, I cleared out enough space for peace & creative energy to gush in.
Hope some of these tips help you! 🙂
Here’s to more self-care, self-love & magic!
PS : all photos are taken by me, pls share with permission & credits 🙂