Getting Busy With Self-Care

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Dr. Jill Harrison Landsman, L.Ac., D.A.O.M.
October 17, 2022 / 5 mins read

How many times a week are you asked how you’re doing, and the answer you give is “I’m so busy” or “Crazy busy”?

Many of us are truly busy, but do we have to be that busy?

Being busy is a badge of honor in much of American culture. In many other places people work to live, while here many of us live to work.

I know that it can feel like there is too much to get done in one day, but there are changes we can make. Advocating for even a small change in our lives and our culture can make a big difference.

The sweet little moments don’t last forever, but being more mindful of how we experience those moments can make them last a little longer. If we don’t slow the heck down, the years are going to pass us by, and we will have little memory of what has transpired.

I have a good friend who works her butt off as an educator 60 hours a week and is a single parent of two boys. On the weekends, she will guiltily confess to me, “I feel so lazy, I don’t want do anything.” To her, “rest” is a four-letter word. This, I believe, is a result of the programming of our culture.

On the contrary, a woman I know who has a very big job in the entertainment industry, lets everyone know that she will give her all from 9:00AM till 6:00PM, but after that, she is offline and not reachable.

She is the first to admit that with this declaration she wasn’t very popular in her work environment. There was certainly snickering behind her back. But over time, people started to notice that she was not only equally productive as those working longer hours, but even more so. Slowly, very slowly, the culture began to change through her example.

As a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, I know that what my patients do after the hour a week they spend with me is far more important than the time we spent together. They become their own physician the moment they leave my office. They can choose to either continue their care or abandon it.

Of course, when I suggest a variety of methods of self-care, many will respond with “I’m too busy” or “I tried that and it’s too hard for me.” While I know there is validity in their claims, I call B.S. that they are too busy.

I also know that some of those same people have complained to me about getting stuck for hours in a social media rabbit hole, and they feel terrible about it. That is time that could be spent doing something restorative or inspiring. Being too busy is a story that they tell themselves, and a habit that can be changed.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes” is one of my favorite sayings, as is “You can’t think your way into right action, you must act your way into right thinking.” If you truly recognize that you are engaged in toxic busy-ness and you’re interested in changing, you can do it. Not all at once, but with a doable intention or goal.

Here is something that works for my 54-year-old self. It involves sparkly stickers and markers. That’s right, I do monthly sticker charts for myself!

I commit to something for 30 days and design a rudimentary chart for each day of the month and put a rainbow unicorn or smiley face flower sticker next to each day that I complete the task of the day. The book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” was clearly an inspiration to me!

I decide each month what I feel I need to include in my self-care routine, and then I commit to performing that activity throughout the month. Some months it’s twice daily meditation, some months it’s daily yoga or cardio, and sometimes it’s daily reading of a fun novel. It varies, and I don’t always accomplish my self-care goal every day in a month, but I can clearly see my progress with the adorable stickers that I have placed on my chart.

A sticker chart may or may not be the right answer for you, but you will find something that is. The important thing to remember is that you can make small changes -- and those small changes can be big.

Taking time for yourself, prioritizing what is truly important to you, and creating boundaries on who and how your attention is spent will leave you the room you need to take care of yourself.

Everyone deserves self-care. Make the time for yourself by creating small changes today.