By Michelle Schaunaman, CCASA Blogger & Outreach Coordinator at TESSA
I have a confession—I really dislike New Year’s Resolutions. However, there are times when it’s glaringly apparent that a person needs to make a change. This past November it became apparent I needed to make a change. I needed to take care of myself.
I built a lie around myself that I could and should “do more” and “be more” in my work.
Every day I pushed myself to create more awareness events, send more social media posts, and to provide more presentations—all in the name of an amazing cause. What I forgot was that I am one human being.
I was overloaded with graphic stories about Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. I couldn’t stop thinking about my schedule for the next day as I lay in bed trying to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about all the people who shared with me how I had helped them become safe or those who I had attempted to protect by making child abuse reports. The responsibility to others was weighing heavy on me.
In my mind, there were too many people who desperately needed help, not enough time to help everyone, and I was an epic failure for not “doing more” to help.
Finally, after a night of crying due to being exhausted and overwhelmed, I decided to talk with my supervisor. I decided to ask for what I needed—some time off. Some time to clear my head and refocus my priorities. Time to recognize I was dealing with compassion fatigue.
Feeling extremely guilty, I took a week off around Thanksgiving. This was the best decision I have made in a long time.
Let me share with you a few things I did with my time and some discoveries I made about myself:
- I played antique games at the Penny Arcade in Manitou Springs. I realized I had lost my child-like wonder and joy for life as I laughed while trying to push tiny basketballs into a tiny hoop. (Also, shooting creepy clown faces with a tiny cannon is very therapeutic.)
- I walked the Broadmoor grounds. This made me realize I lost touch with experiencing day to day life— taking time to smell the giant holiday gingerbread house, see the festive decorations, and feeling the wobbly rungs of the ladder in the library. I recognized I had lost all feeling and was tied to the clock.
- I went to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. Here, I realized I could relax. I didn’t care I wasn’t wearing makeup and didn’t care what was happening at work, or even care that more family was arriving at my house the next day for Thanksgiving. It felt so good to do nothing and doing nothing was energizing.
My week included more outings and epiphanies but overall, I started to regain my joy for life, feelings, and energy. Taking time for me actually helped my work, my relationships, and most of all me!
Even though I really dislike New Year’s Resolutions, I recognize taking care of me is an ongoing need. Therefore, I will resolve to do the following:
- Take at least 30 minutes a day to do something for myself—exercise, try something new, or just sit and have a cup of coffee.
- Slow down and experience life. Stop being tied to the clock and rushing through activities.
- Expect less of myself. Being “Type A” can mean striving for perfection. In my life, that ideal is no longer healthy or satisfying. I need to stop pushing myself to the edge. (I understand this is somewhat ironic…)
We’ll see how this goes for me— as a disdainer of Resolutions I am still optimistic I will make these changes and have good outcomes.
I’d like to challenge you to think about what changes you can make to improve your self-care. If we all make these changes together and support each other, the changes are more likely to stick. So, find an “accountability buddy” and get started! Happy Self-Care Year!