I start the day with anti-anxiety medication and coffee with extra creamer. After brushing my teeth and washing my face, I sigh happily after I realize it’s Friday.
A surge of joy spreads through my veins at the idea of…wait for it…paying off my credit card bill. What a joyous thing, having your hard earned money disappear in honor of financial stability. Impressive.
I mean, I got groceries…cleaning supplies, oh yes, and I bought a table at IKEA that I built to finally have something to put a lamp on.
And now we’re back to bi-weekly reset. For you non-gamers out there, “weekly reset” is a coined phrase in the gaming community where all the special weekly missions, raids and their corresponding rewards reset the following week, meaning you can go play those missions again and get new rewards.
Which is kinda like life – get paid, take care of that bill, go work another 40-80 something hours, pay off another bill, rinse, wash, repeat, reset. Some months you have extra money stowed away, and you may be able to buy something cool, like a new TV. One extra rung on the material status ladder (a little secret, between you and me – this ladder has no end).
Anyway – after paying off that delicious credit card bill, downing the rest of my coffee, and begrudgingly putting pants on, I take my car on my day off (ah yes, sometimes I take days off!) to get the oil changed, swing by my family doctor for a check up, pick up some lettuce and salad dressing for the miserable dinner I plan to make, and also grab some face wash (since I ran out, yikes).
I check my watch – “Oh look at the time, 8pm!” – My day off has flown by, and I find myself too tired to even make that miserable salad and succumb to the inner depths of the couch. Did I put the lettuce in the fridge? Eh. If not I’ll deal with a spongy salad tomorrow.
The older I get, the more I realize that each day brings another list of menial tasks to complete with the promise of being a stable, living, breathing adult who has a job, maybe a cat, some kids, a wife, a husband, or something of those sorts.
But what I find funny about our bi-weekly resets is that we as Americans value the upkeep of day to day, arduous, tasks, but we do not value the upkeep of our spirit.
We do not make time for meditation retreats, or having a daily hour of “mindfulness” – we do not make time to create something unique to put into the world – like music or paintings. We push going to the gym to the side, and we falter on our “new year, new me” goals that involve anything past getting the bills paid.
And when I mention we don’t make time, I mean consistent time that is actually integrated into our lives.
Taking time for ourselves through meditation shouldn’t be a “treat”. Getting a massage after dealing with muscle pain for months shouldn’t be an “honor”. Picking up our guitar after a year of not playing music shouldn’t be so “magnificent” because we finally have a moment where we value ourselves more than just our ability to work, manage a family, and have a roof above our heads.
All the day to day upkeep is necessary, I understand that – we all have to work, eat, manage relationships, pay bills, I get it! But why must we sacrifice so much of life to live? Why do we scoff at the idea of self-care when we make it a habit, rather than a “once a month occurrence”?
Don’t get me wrong, getting my nails done, ordering take out, and laying on the couch all day after a month of running my ass off feels great.
But do you really get to benefit as much from it as you think? Does stopping for a moment when we’ve been running ourselves in the red really reset our engines? I don’t think one day is enough to reset even moderate levels of exhaustion – which, we only get our two days a week if we work a full-load, and usually those weekend days are used for other chores.
So why is it – that we push away nurturing our spirit unless it’s a rare “self-care” day? Or even a self-care week? Why is it not something that is integrated into our daily lives? Why do we just “not have time” for that pesky soul-searching that actually adds depth to our experiences?
I pose all these questions because I struggle with this too.
I’d like to think I’m someone who does more spiritual nurturing with my artwork, but in reality, I’m just tired all the time – my soul is tired from day-to-day existence. I’ve spoken with other working adults about this and they just shrug their shoulders and say “welcome to the next 40 years”.
I don’t even have as much on my plate as others and I still feel this way! I don’t have kids or any other obligations other than go to work, come home, and feed my cat and even that is hard.
Maybe it’s because we’re wired to feel guilty for not completing our endless list of tasks that get us that figurative “gold star” at the end of each day.
Because that task-list was one made by our society to determine our worth and productivity, but consistent self-care and spiritual nurturing is left on the “slackers” list. Get your shit together, you don’t have time for another day of reading a book at a cafe.
I know there are some that are better than others at making consistent self-care a priority (and I applaud you for that), but I just wish it was a societal norm to nurture those parts of ourselves as humans, rather than making it a “reward” for working ourselves dry.
All of us should have time for dancing, reading, singing, praying, meditating, and resting. Exhaustion isn’t beautiful – nor is letting your heart and dreams become a void because of all the work you do.
Fill it – let others help fill it – but really, make time. Not just a once-a-month ordeal – make consistent time.
This time we spend nurturing our spirit through rest and exploration of our souls adds depth and purpose to our lives beyond our duties as a working adult.
Set aside 30 minutes a day to write that next song lyric, to practice that dance move, to sit and do breathing exercises, to take that walk, to do something more than checking off another thing on your list, to do something more than collapsing on the couch as your reward for exhaustion.
Taking care of yourself, even your daydreams, is so important. Do it for you – no one else – bring in small things at a time and make it a habit. Put a little extra cream in your coffee every now and then, and give yourself that time to be reflective on your heart rather than reflective on your credit card bill.
30 minutes to start with – each day. That’s all I ask – I don’t have time is not an excuse to ignore a huge part of our needs that our society has deemed a luxury rather than a necessity. I promise you’ll start to see changes in your energy levels and your happiness if you commit – it may feel a bit like a chore at first and may even be stressful to force yourself into “de-stressing” on the daily, but it’ll be worth it.
Life is upkeep, but it shouldn’t have to just be upkeep. It should be up lifting (that space in between up and lifting is intentional), as we rise to conquer each day, lifting us closer to our goals and aspirations. I know every day will not be met with an “uplifting” attitude, but at the very least, I hope it can be met with a collective calm, where there is a balance between work, play, and rest…where the scales are level and where we work to progress ourselves both professionally and personally in each day we live.