Reflections & Intentions

Self-Care Is Doing What You Need, Not What You Should

So, I ended up roaming in the woods again this weekend instead of tackling the next bake in The Great British Blog Off.

I felt a bit guilty about flipping the cookbook open and feeling nothing but dread at having to pidgeonhole this task into my already filled weekend. And yet… I made the choice I knew I needed to make anyway.

I did not bake this week’s recipe. Instead, I followed my instincts and used that time to catch up on household tasks before heading into the woods with Andy and Azula for the weekend.

Azula enjoying a break from running amok outside

Self-care can so easily become a list of shoulds. I should meditate every day, I should go for a run, I should bake these cookies so I can write this blog post.

Yes, it is important to tackle some shoulds. You should probably pay your bills, and eat, and take care of other things that aren’t always fun but are important. But sometimes you have to prioritize what you know you need over what you think you should be doing.

Right now, I am facing down burnout. I have had a long year in my working life, trying to support being one of the only offices allowing walk-ins while not receiving so much of the one-on-one interactions with students that make my job worthwhile. I’ve been worn down from being on call for contact tracing and simultaneously felt guilty that so many of my colleagues have had to shoulder so much more of the burden of a COVID semester than I have.

Whether or not it makes sense, I feel exhausted. My weekend stay at a Getaway cabin in Ohio refreshed me so much last weekend, and yet those stores still seem to deplete quicker than they used to. I didn’t want to bake cookies on either end of a trip with our dog to the woods.

So I didn’t.

I did my laundry and cleaned out my car and shopped for snacks for our long walks in the woods. I read a book and took my long run and started writing the memoir that’s been bubbling within me for the past two years.

This post isn’t an apology for not presenting you with the next recipe in my series. It’s an acknowledgement that sometimes we all need to let go of the plans we’ve made for our lives and tap into how we actually need to use that time in any given moment.

It is an invitation. Take a few deep breaths, my friend, and ask yourself what you truly need in this moment. Then take some time to nourish what comes through, as best you can.