Drawing From an Empty Well: Making Sure You Keep a ‘Care Budget’

Even during normal times, making sure we have the time and the energy for… anything can be a challenge. During a quarantine, a lot of people are finding that it’s even harder. Are you struggling trying to figure out how to take care of every single member of your household, your extended family, and your friends — let alone yourself? Are you alone and fraught with worry, frozen by the fear and anxiety? Are you in survival mode?

Breathe. It’s okay. We all are. That’s why it’s maybe more important now than ever to take stock. Prioritize things that need to be done and people you need to take care of. And don’t forget that you are one of those people. Perhaps even the most important person. You cannot draw energy to take care of others if your well is empty.

Vice recently published a thought-provoking article about making a care budget for yourself. Check it out here. It lays out the steps for founding your budget and making sure you can keep it stocked.

The gist is this: prioritize. Remember that not everything has to be done right now. Not everyone needs your constant attention. Pay attention to the signs that your body gives you about being run down, hungry, short-tempered, and adjust accordingly. Replenish your well, or your budget, so that you can draw from it to take of things that need to be done. But remember this isn’t a race. There is no yardstick against which you will be measured at the end of this. You know yourself better than anyone. After all, we’re all doing the best we can.

So think about what you need to replenish your well. Think about what you need to do and what small steps you can do to complete them. This quote from the article sums it up quite well:

As you get going, you may start to think that if doing a little is good, doing a lot is even better. This is not true. The best thing you can do in this moment is to be realistic. Think about what you can do now, during a global crisis where a trip to the grocery store requires the mental preparation and acuity normally reserved for taking the LSAT, not what you could achieve in the world of three months ago, where conveniences like Ubers, free two-day shipping, spontaneous drinks at a bar, and hugs still existed.

This is what self-care looks like. It’s not just face masks and bath bombs — though, those are great! Self-care is about figuring out what you need to keep going. And above all else, self-care is about compassion — for others, but most importantly for yourself.

We’re going to be at home like this for a while, and things are likely going to get worse before they get better, so resist the urge to go all-out. It’s good for absolutely no one if you burn through your reserves and flame out early on—and, if you need to reason with yourself about this sometimes in order not to go too overboard, remind yourself that you’ll be more helpful in the long run if you’re considerate and selective about your care in the short-term.

 

Source: Rachel Mill, “What to Do When Everyone Needs Support but You’re Only One Person,” Vice.com

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