The procrastination of self care

A few years ago, a client suggested a blog title for me. 

The procrastination of self-care.

I filed the title away, and picked at it a few times. We all have a tendency to put off our self-care, whether it’s placing other’s needs before our own or keeping too busy to acknowledge our own needs. But every time I returned to the title, I had little success in creating a substantial post.

Until last week.

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Last Monday, I was hit straight in the nose by my own procrastination of self-care. I was driving in to the gym Monday afternoon, and found myself growing increasingly sad. 

The details don’t really matter - but I was coming off of a stretch of some long hours and negotiating the loss of another family member. I’d been keeping my head above water, but I can’t really say I was in a practice of taking care of myself very well. 

And to be perfectly honest with you, I was doing okay. Not great, but okay. 

Until the drive from Bowdoinham to Kennebunk last Monday. Somewhere on that drive, I got sadder and sadder, and by the time I pulled in to the parking lot of the gym, I was completely overwhelmed by my emotions. I dragged my bags out of the car and tried to get my emotions together. 

But it just wasn’t happening. 

I was literally crying as I walked in to the gym.

I nodded to my co-workers when I walked through the doors and immediately put on my giant noise canceling headphones. There was no music playing, but it was the clear sign that I didn’t want to talk to anyone. 

And I didn’t. I couldn’t.

For the next 90 minutes, I kept the headphones on and did the most mindless workout I could think of. I deadlifted for 15 minutes straight.

My throat was burning and the tears were flowing, but methodically, every 15 seconds, I lifted the bar. At the end of 15 minutes I collapsed on the floor, breathless, staring at the ceiling, having emptied myself out in an effort to get myself together.

I took a shower, got ready to coach, and got on with my day. 

By the time I started coaching, I was ready to go. But later that night on the drive home I realized something. 

I had been forced in to the self-care that I was neglecting.

On this day, it played out in the form of uncontrollable emotions. I was sad, and I hadn’t given myself the space to be sad. I said I had, but that wasn’t true. I’d kept myself busy and moving and doing, which meant that I hadn’t given myself an opportunity to actually feel my feelings.  

So myself created that space for me. 

Yeah, that’s an awkward sentence. But it’s absolutely true. If we aren’t purposeful and thoughtful about our own self-care, it will get forced upon us.

Ever gotten sick at the end of a long stretch of stress? Or even a short stretch? Ever found yourself balling your eyes out during an Adele song after a breakup? Gotten a massive headache? Pulled a muscle? Anything physical or emotional? After neglecting yourself by eating poorly, and never sleeping or resting?

Yeah - here’s the thing - you can procrastinate your self-care all you want. You can kick that can down the road a ways - but I can assure you that if you procrastinate taking care of yourself, of really looking after your own needs - then yourself, your body, your emotions, your spirit - will eventually come to collect. And it might be in ways that you cannot dictate.

So as hard as it might be, my challenge to you is this - what can you do today, tomorrow or the next day, to take care of yourself?

And do you need someone to help keep you accountable to that self-care?

Because I do. I’ve recruited friends, my spouse and my co-workers to help me out. Because self-care is harder than it sounds.

But stop procrastinating your self-care.