It's 5 o'clock on a Saturday, and I've just finished up a jam-packed day… of relaxing.
I woke up late (for me) at 8 am.
I made a smoothie for breakfast at 9.
Then I spent a good chunk of the morning replying to comments and answering emails.
After that, I took a nap. The sun was shining, the cat was purring, I felt tired; so I slept. Until 230 pm.
I made some tea with lunch and then read part of a book until 4.
My housemate came home, so I went upstairs, washed my dishes from lunch, and chatted a bit with him before grabbing a soda and coming back downstairs to my basement.
After I finish writing this post, I might start another. Or, I might grab some cheese, crackers, and veggies for dinner before making some popcorn and watching a movie.
It's been a good day. I've thoroughly enjoyed hanging out by myself, catching up on some stuff around the basement, and just generally recovering from a long week at work.
Had I done this at my parent's house, though, I would've been called lazy.
I was called lazy all the time growing up. Two of my greatest pleasures involved lying horizontal on my bed for hours and not moving: Playing video games on a revolving door of handheld gaming systems and reading a stack of books.
Every time I did one of these things my parents would pause by the door, look in, see me seemingly do nothing, and then proceed to try to make me do other things.
“Why are you _______ when you need to do _____ chore?”
“Why are you _______ when it's such a nice day outside?”
Needing the time to relax was never a good answer.
But now I'm realizing taking the time to relax – caring for myself – is actually a legitimate answer.
Not having time to relax was a major reason I got out of the military. My service only required one weekend a month, and two weeks a year. But, that one weekend spent working meant I had a 12 day work week. By the time day 10, 11, and 12 came around, I was short-tempered and easily angered. Which, if you know me, seems out of character for my open, friendly, easy-going personality. I saw the same shift occur with my roommate, as he was also in the same unit with me.
A common trope of the Millennial generation is that we're lazy. I had a fantastic discussion about it with Joshua Sheats of Radical Personal Finance when we recorded our podcast episode during Camp Mustache. He asked why I was going for FI. I told him it was because I didn't want to work. When pressed as to why I didn't want to work, I said it was because I was lazy.
This led to a tangential discussion on if I was actually lazy. I said I was because I like to take naps, not cook meals, and do things like read a book for hours at a time.
Joshua then pointed out that I wasn't actually lazy. He cited things like being active in at least one sport pretty much all the time since I was 10, being active in the Girl Scouts (and getting my Gold Award), putting in the work to get good grades that led to my full-ride scholarship to college and then keeping said scholarship for all 4 years, joining the military (where I won several awards for being an outstanding Airman), working my butt off at my internship to get into the company with a full-time offer before I graduated college, and all the work associated with going for Financial Independence (figuring out finances, blogging, starting the process for buying a rental, etc).
Clearly I'm not afraid of hard work and long hours. So why do I think I'm lazy?
Because my parents said I was for the better part of 20 years. They didn't like I was doing things for myself and not doing stuff around the house for them. (This became such a heated issue that they kicked me out of the house at age 18, 42 days before I left for college.)
It's so ingrained in me, though, that I didn't even realize it was my parents' voices in my head until that conversation.
Self-care is a critical part of being human. We weren't meant to go, and go, and go with no down time.
I think it's even more important now with the shifting political environment we in the United States are facing. If I tried to be a good employee, sister, daughter, friend, and blogger AND care about everything else going on in the world with no break, I'd explode. For real.
So I turn off my computer, only play games on my phone, and studiously ignore the outside world to give my brain a chance to process everything.
Self-care is so important to me I made it a point to add it to my goals for 2017. It's even in the title: A Year of Caring. So far, I've yet to schedule a massage or chiropractic appointment, but with the news from Washington this last week, I will need both.
But I'm not just caring only about me. I'm caring more about others as well. I urge you to do the same – not just for your inner circle of family and friends. Do something nice for a complete stranger. Stand up for the marginalized (and often maligned) groups in your world. Reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while.
We're going to need to care for each other more than ever, and we can't do that as effectively if we're tired, stressed out, and burnt out.
How do you relax? Do you worry about being lazy?