At some point between work and chores and laundry and unreturned emails, it dawns on me that I no longer remember what it feels like to not be overwhelmed. The way the perpetual Next Thing nips at my heels and the steady rhythm of To-Dos pounds through my head are just part of the fabric of the day. When people ask, “How are you?” I reflexively answer with a sigh and a bemused smile, “Good. Busy, but good.” We nod knowingly to one another, taking a moment to find the humor before going our separate ways and once again tackling the colossus of junk mail and voicemails and never-ending streams of information that life has become. It never dawns on us that busy and good could be mutually exclusive.
How can anyone be good while roaring through a tunnel at 100 mph with only illusions of slowing down? Bursts of busy punctuated by genuine relaxation are part of life, a necessary reminder of the value of floating in the stream. But as the lines between work and life are blurred to the point of non-existence, the demands are increased and the rewards diminished, and the world around us drills home the all encompassing importance of packing your plate with obligations just to pull your weight, well, when does the burst end?
It simply doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean we cannot revolt.
When society insists that being busy is a virtue, taking even a moment to pause and breathe and unclutter the dusty corners of your mind is subversion. In this time and in this place, where being just this side of collapsing under the weight of worry and unfinished tasks is as close to divine as mankind if capable of reaching, every second stolen from the machine is an act of defiance. Meeting our own needs in our own ways on our own time without giving the requisite pound of flesh to some Pinterest peddler of life hacks and must-haves and so-easys is sanity snatched from the jaws of an insatiable beast. For the modern man and woman, self-care is an act of rebellion.
Self-care isn’t just a buzzword you use to mask the shame you feel over having just one more glass of wine or buying a Twix at the check-out, pulling a face as you explain away the transgression to the cashier. Self-care is about more than the pleasures we’ve been told are guilty simply because they serve no purpose to the machine. Self-care is rejecting the constructed dilemma of being pulled in every direction at once, of never being able to stop, of always having some other place or task or person who is inherently more important than whatever it is you are doing right now.
Self-care, caring for ourselves, is an inward looking moment of solitary reflection in a world that demands constant outward attention. Stealing away inside ourselves to ask what we need and how we need it and why we need it now. Dedicating time to the things that make us feel good, loved, and beautiful rather than the things that make us feel less than, unworthy, and bedraggled. Shrugging off the weight of the world in order to stretch out the aches and reset.
So next time you walk a little slower to enjoy the subtle a subtle drop in temperature, or put away your computer a little early to open up a book, or simply sit in silence while you watch the light change in the late afternoon, take a moment to remember that those moments are not selfish or lazy. Those moments of serenity in the middle of a storm are the makings of revolution. Self-care is your personal rebellion.
Photo credit: Michelle Mosqueda
About the Author
Bridey Heing is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. Her interests include travel, international politics, film, and tattoos. More of her work can be seen here.