It’s that time of year again… The time when the year starts winding down and everyone starts to prepare for a season of rest (for the most part). This time of year, many of us feel exhausted and some even burned out (especially after the year we’ve all had), in need of a well-deserved holiday. Reality is, that’s how we view self-care and rest so often; as a holiday.

What if looking after ourselves wasn’t only something that looked like leave or a holiday or a purposeful time away? What if self-care was actually a rhythm in our lives? What would holidays look like? Would we spend less of our holiday crashed and recovering, or might it look like spending quality time with our loved ones, instead of giving them what’s left of us after work drained the life out of us?

Maybe this sounds dramatic for some… but it’s a reality for others.

Self-care seems to get a bad rap amongst many, so let’s take a deeper look at it. It simply means that we deliberately take care of our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. Often at least one of these areas lack deliberate care, creating somewhat of a disequilibrium. Essentially all these facets of our lives are intertwined, making it awfully difficult to neglect some of them and not feel the result of it. What are some of the results then? We may experience some (if not all) of the following:

  • exhaustion & anhedonia (lack of pleasure)
  • blame & resentment
  • guilt
  • hopelessness
  • aggression
  • depression
  • apathy
  • anxiety
  • compassion fatigue
  • loss of passion
  • burnout… to name a few.

I read a quote once that said “Burnout exists because we’ve made rest a reward rather than a right.”

What are your perceptions on self-care? Is it something you willingly accept as necessary, or do you (like so many of us) tend to resist the thought or find that life doesn’t always grant such a luxury as ‘self-care’? There are many possibilities or reasons why we don’t deem self-care important, to name a few:

  • We don’t believe we need it; we’re strong,
  • Work and life gets hectic and self-care, ironically, is the first thing to go when it’s most essential,
  • Changing our habits is challenging,
  • We don’t believe we’re worth it (do we believe we’re worth being taken care of? Aren’t others more important than us?),
  • We don’t “have time”- reality is, we have the same amount of time as everyone else, but we choose what we prioritise,
  • We think (especially for us in healthcare professions) that we’re people’s saviours.
  • Often, self-care is perceived as something selfish, especially considering high pressure and performance driven schemas many of us hold.
  • However, self-care is a vital necessity in our daily lives- especially if we work with people on a daily basis!

Agnes Wainman said that self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.” What are some things that you enjoy doing? Some things that ignites a spark within you and brings you joy? Do more of that.

When flying in a commercial aircraft, the flight attendants always explain the priority of the oxygen mask for the capable adult, before helping those who cannot help themselves. Why? Because what use will we be to others when our oxygen has completely run out?

James Clear speaks about a 1% change when implementing new habits. If self-care doesn’t come naturally to you, why not decide on one thing you want to improve and just improve it by 1% every day. Every 1% counts!

Nicole van Wyk

“I guess there’s some truth in the saying that “all roads lead to Rome”.

My journey has been relatively unconventional in many ways, but I am grateful for the various experiences (personal and professional) that I’ve had because I’ve gained so much more than I realized till now.

My academic journey started with my undergraduate (BA majoring in Psychology and Criminology) at the University of Pretoria, to my honours in Counselling Psychology through Unisa whilst volunteering at the A21 Campaign. Thereafter, two years of internship in Pastoral Care in Hillsong Church in Cape Town and, most recently, a Master’s of Theology in Pastoral Therapy, specifically regarding aspects of female sexuality.

My experiences and passions also include an avid love for art, photography, design and dancing. I would love to incorporate art therapy one day; including (but not limited to) working with trauma, mood disorders, and who knows, maybe even psychosis. I believe there is always more to grow and more to learn and that we’ll never arrive. May we always be lifelong learners as soul  journers on the earth.”