It can be difficult remembering ourselves through the monotony of routine. Laundry day. Baking day. Shopping day. Bleh. Our nails are broken and caked with dirt or pastry, 5 days a week we’re in an apron, and by time the days work is done, our swollen feet are propped up on the coffee table and we’re starring blankly into the space we’ve just spent all day slaving over.
Losing our identities to our roles in life is a slippery slope to codependency and self-neglect. I have found it to be very difficult juggling full time child rearing with all of my household responsibilities that are free from the everyday conveniences that lead to health decline and planetary destruction. Though the payoff is well worth it, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees.
Ever say “why am I doing this?”?
I’ve been doing a lot of work lately on remembering myself and really thinking clearly about what it is I am and stand for. I’ve put together my homestead-burnout first aid list here.
1. Make honest decisions to yourself about what you like and don’t like. It’s ok if you like Britney Spears. I do too. I don’t really like pants. That’s ok too. If someone can’t love me rocking out to “Hit me baby one more time” in a cotton skirt, it’s their loss. But no matter how hard I try, I will not like country music and pants, and I would be miserable faking it. Maybe you “like” being a homesteader or a mother. But that’s not all of you. I am more than my job(s). My interests go beyond cloth diapering and growing broccoli.
2. Try to stop using the word “should” and instead say “could”. I “could” learn another language, but it’s not a priority in my life right now.
3. Let go of the idea of perfection and except that you are human. Perfection is an abstract concept reserved only for our Maker. There are no medals in life for things like grinding grain and hand-sewing. You can do it. You can be good at it. But there will always be someone one step ahead, and better. Move forward and set ideas for your own personal best. Once you remove the idea of perfectionism, you might be surprised that your motives and goals change. No one is standing around making sure you recycled perfectly- so decide if you really want to be doing it for your own personal ideas.
4. Make a list of long and short term goals, and though it’s important to be realistic, allow yourself to have some far-reaching ideas. Consider very carefully if those long term goals are about YOU. Is cleaning out your garage about YOU? Is getting in shape about YOU? (or is it about society and feeling pressured?) One of my short term goals is to visit the local animal sanctuary. Sure, it will be fun for the kids. But I’m going because I will find it interesting.
5. Set time aside every day to find your spiritual center. Spirituality gives us a sense of purpose and hope. It answers big questions like “what is our purpose here” and if our daily efforts are meaningful. Do not overlook this. Our physical health is directly correlated to our spiritual and mental wellness.
6. Do things that are just about you. Read a book. Work on a project. Go out for coffee. But whatever it is, make it something that brings you joy and isn’t just about work.
7. Foster positive relationships and a support network to catch you when you slip and to push you forward. Sometimes the difference between a good day and a bad one can be a call from a good friend. It’s also validating to hear other people’s very human experiences. Friends can help you see outside of your perspective.
8. Choose a behavior about yourself that needs work and add it to your goals. Do you shop to make yourself feel good? Do you stay up too late? Self-improvement isn’t always about doing things FOR yourself, but sometimes it can be about letting go of some parts of yourself.
9. Give and participate within your community. Volunteer or network. Having a sense of community is important in our sense of meaning and purpose. We feel a responsibility to our neighbors, and our planet, and it gives us a connection and voice.
10. Learn or establish healthy boundaries. It’s important to stick up for ourselves in order to perpetuate self care. If we are constantly allowing ourselves to be martyred, that is, doing things we don’t really want to do or sacrificing too much, we become consumed with negative emotions that weigh us down and prevent us from caring for ourselves. By saying no, we are both helping ourselves, and fostering independence in other people.
As you can see, many of these behaviors stem from honesty- honesty to ourselves and each other. Honesty removes our burdens and helps us see clearly. I’m wishing you all the best on your journey to self care!