F*ck Self-Care

Isn’t self-care the last thing a teacher feels like doing when she’s just done with caring for others?

“OK, now that you realize you’re really burned out from taking care of everybody else’s needs, stop everything and take care of yourself.”

It’s not that I’m anti-self-care. Despite my strong asterisked language, I’m actually all for self-care. I recognize the value of exercising regularly and eating healthily. I have built those two things into my life for my sake and for my clients’.

But am I the only one on the planet who, at that moment of dire need, can’t think of what I can do to take care of myself? Who, in fact, cannot imagine doing enough to reverse the exhaustion or despair? Who has no confidence that doing the “right thing” will help or last or make a real difference?

Am I the only one who hears the term “self-care” at these moments and feels even worse, like “Oh, yeah, there’s one more person I need to care for: me”?

Sometimes self-care (wonderful as it is) is not enough.

Sometimes teachers need to be cared for.

I think this is a really important corollary to the self-care movement that I have never heard anyone talk about. Namely, that there are times when the people who do a lot of caregiving need to stop caring and get some care themselves.

I’m sure many of you out there have balanced your lives between your care-giving, your self-caring, and your care-getting. This is, of course, the ideal.

But I’m equally sure that some of you out there can relate to my strong, asterisked language about self-care. If you are one of these people, consider the following:

  • make an appointment to get a massage. NOW.

  • arrange with your partner or a friend to take turns taking full responsibility for a meal — once a week? once a month? — where you cook and clean up one time and they cook and clean up another

  • find a good therapist (there’s nothing like having someone’s full attention every week for an hour — and you don’t have to give a hoot about how they are!)

  • go out for brunch

I’m actually outing myself as not very good at getting cared for, so I end with a plea: What do you do to get cared for? I’m not interested in what you do to care for yourself. I’m interested in how you get someone else to take care of you for a while.

I suspect that many of us could really use your suggestions.

Betsy BurrisComment