If I learned anything in 2020, it was to let myself slow down and rest without feeling guilty for not being “productive.” Shaking off the shackles of the “law school” mentality, which equates success with how much money you make and how many hours you work (le sigh), has been a years-long struggle.
As I segued from law practice to teaching yoga to university teaching and research, I discovered that associating self-worth with accomplishments and measuring success only in financial terms is negative and toxic for me. In 2020, when I took a remote job teaching online graduate classes instead of practicing law like I had planned, I finally realized (for real this time, bien sûr!) I can create my own version of productivity and accomplishment outside of the norm.
I plan to keep this new mindset in 2021 as best I can, and to continue focusing on taking care of myself – especially during the long winter months. Many pursuits are worthwhile and valuable even if they do not add a line item to your resume or make money. Taking a nap is productive. Doing a puzzle is productive. Inspiring students is productive. Calling a friend is productive. Self-care is self-worth.
“Self-care” is not my favorite phrase. It sounds more like self-indulgent, but taking care of yourself is not selfish. It’s an integral part of the healthy, balanced routine – the foundation of healthy, balanced life.
We don’t often seek or encourage balance in the United States (see, e.g., working long hours, eating al desko, not taking what little vacation or sick time a job offers, and other unhealthy work habits). But balance is the only way. Today’s post shares some ideas and tips for self-care in the new year.
Make Time for Yourself
Set those boundaries, y’all, for yourself and others. Having a schedule lends structure to days that seems repetitive and endless, à la Groundhog Day.
Try to have a routine and stick to it. I get up and go to bed at the same time every day and I know when (and what) my next meal is. I also take at least one bath a week, when I read fluffy beauty or home magazines (not le news!).
Communicate your needs to family and colleagues. As for friends, don’t worry about being a people pleaser. If you can’t put yourself first during a pandemic, you never will. Your schedule and peace of mind are just as important as others’.
Certain responsibilities, such as caregiving and work, may make it difficult to establish boundaries. Be gentle with yourself and do the best you can.
A little exercise and fresh air greatly improves how I feel physically and mentally. If I start to feel sluggish, I get up and move: climb stairs, do toe touches, take a walk around the block (if I can get outside; we have lots of snow and ice gumming up the works in February in Vermont – but we have mittens). I make a fresh cup of herbal tea. I switch rooms in the house (and am thankful to have this option).
As the proud mother of an energetic fur baby, I also have three walks already built into my daily routine. Walks can last anywhere from five to thirty minutes each, weather dependent. Le Chien’s sniffer is always raring to go, so I’m never at a loss for entrainment when we venture outside.
I’m also trying to incorporate “basement gym time” into my mornings: After Le Chien’s first walk, I lift weights and do some yoga stretches while listening to dance music (not le news!). Mornings can be busy, but you can incorporate some movement and fresh air throughout the day.
I don’t wear clothes. I wear ensembles. I love organizing my closet (old pro) and putting looks together (at least I’m trying).
Right now, my outdoor chic ensemble is a black puffy coat, wool hat, big scarf, and waterproof black snow boots with lug soles (oh la la!). My indoor chic ensemble is fitted jeans or black tights, sweater, scarf or large earrings, and perfume and lipstick. Last summer, I lived in sundresses and sandals, chic simplicity at its finest.
Yes, I have been at home for almost a year. Yes, I have not gotten a haircut in five months, and it shows. Getting dressed every day (okay, at least every weekday) makes me feel festive, alert, and capable. When I wear sweatpants all day, I feel sad and tired. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
And I’m making a haircut appointment tout de suite.
Take a Social Media Break
Every once in a while, let yourself disconnect and unplug from the digital and connect and tune in to the here and now. Start small; log out of the apps after dinner and be done. Then after lunch. And so on. It will be there when you get back.
Side rant: All social media wants is your data and your clicks. It does not care about you or like you or have your best interests at heart. Social media is a robber baron. That is all.
How will you take care of yourself in 2021?
Merci for reading and please subscribe and share!
À votre santé,