Updated: Aug 9
How to be apart of the solution to improve work/academic place balance
In this post, I will describe how self-care is being weaponized and what to do, to be more accessible and understanding around asking folks to do self-care.
In quite a few of my Graduate classes for counseling, we discuss the importance of self care, but rarely how self-care is currently being weaponized and commercialized to deflect systematic oppression that pushes folks and families to put the onus on themselves. When in reality, people are overworked and underpaid. The risk of burnout across industries has skyrocketed. Instead of addressing the problem, self-care is being used to push people to make even more time to "take care of themselves so they don't fuck up."
Historical origin of USA use of Self Care
Self-care was started by a black women's movement in the United States in the 70s to address institutional and systematic oppressive suffering. Self-care for these womxn was to come together in the community, to create a safer space to share and decompress in a world that often showed no care for them.
image by: https://unsplash.com/@wocintechchat
Self-care eventually was co-opted into the now commercially, watered down version we see people and companies talk about today.
If we want to see an improvement in work-life balance and how workers are treated, we
need to go back to unionization.
Unions were initially created to protect workers' rights. Creating policies will allow workers the time and medical benefits to care for their physical, emotional, and relational health.
Companies can also generate workplace incentives such as moving up the company ladder, installing mentorship programs, and creating paid work time to seek in-company career advice. In the Netflix series, Barack Obama talks about how modern-day America is stressful for workers. More and more companies are contracting workers rather than employing them, meaning workers are getting paid less and without workplace benefits.
In the Book Lean in For Graduates, Sheryl talks about how important it is to break gender and other societal bias in the workplace by pushing leaders to innate those changes and to create mentorship programs that benefit all their employees.
Learn about her first book here: https://leanin.org/book#!
Yes, self-care and authentic self-care are very important, and it is also a privilege of time and sometimes money that most people can not afford.
As meditation and yoga teacher, there are small, short, and free tools we can use to improve our quality of life.
my free/low cost self care solutions that make the most impact to your health
Focus on the essentials and improve where you can
Sleep 😴 is the most overlooked and impactful change a person can make to improve their mood, weight, learning retention, concentration, and health. If your sleep is suffering, work with a medical professional to get your sleep back on a regular schedule, at least 7 hours of deep sleep a night.
Water: we may not all be Abel to afford healthy/wealthy food, but water and its quality is something no one can ignore. We are over 70% water, after all. Add a little pink salt to your water to improve hydration. You can add lemon juice or grated ginger as well.
Breathing: stressed out? About to have a panic attack? Angry? Training your body to take slow deep breaths with long exhales when you are calm on the regular will train your mind to be abel to breathe deeper when you are not quiet. All it takes is 3 minutes to prevent an intense emotional meltdown. Finding times throughout your work day to do breathing exercises can change your life. Also, deep and controlled breathing techniques also help you to be grounded and present.
Carrying snacks: Remember when we were children, and getting hungry could lead to an upset or tantrum? Well, adults get mean, rude, and have poorer decision-making skills when hungry. Making a snack bag (suggested in intuitive eating and body trust) can reduce the not eating until your home and binging cycle many people struggle with. Fruit, nuts, seaweed, Jerky, apple sauce, and pretzels are all snacks that help keep mental activity strong until meal breaks.
Don't accept people's drama; set boundaries. Relational stress is toxic. If your goal is to have more mental clarity and less stress, then setting stronger boundaries with toxic people is a must. This one took me years to get good at, but I am glad I worked on this. Don't let people wear you down if you can avoid it.
To wind down this article, self-care is marketed as a privilege you must buy. But there are free ways to bring self-care into your life.
Work in your community and vote to pass policies to improve workplace environments that affect your city and state. If you are struggling, thousands more people are in a similar place as you.
All posts on this website are written by Misted Forest unless another author is clearly stated.