The last few weeks have been trying times. My days go something like this:
Wake up at 8 am (yes, that late), get ready, get to work by 9 am (yes, I live that close to work), work like a dog from 9 am until 6 pm non-stop, sometimes skipping lunch to hit the weekly KPIs, get home exhausted, throw some food together, eat while reading articles, then open up a new document, outline an article, write, check the time, go to bed at 12 am. Wash, rinse, repeat the next day.
Needless to say, burnout is somewhere on the horizon for me. I’ve already had one breakdown about two weeks ago, and I can feel another one coming on soon.
Times of high-stress like this, self-care has completely gone out the window.
And fuck, self-care is what is absolutely needed in these situations.
Hectic work schedules are all too common in our capitalistic society. Companies want to squeeze as much productivity out of you as possible within what’s legally allowed.
We know this but we voluntarily commit ourselves to it anyway. Because we too are chasing the almighty dollar. So, when work starts demanding more from us, we let it, thinking we can handle it. But we soon realize we’re completely losing control. Finally, crashing and burning in a ditch.
This is not an exaggeration. The top article on my website is Costs of Mental Health Treatment in Malaysia.
Every time I check stats on this site, that article increasing gets more hits. On one hand I am glad people are more open to seeking help, but on the other hand, it’s so worrying to see that more people are needing to seek help in the first place.
While we are not able to control what happens at work, self-care is completely within our control.
Incorporating self-care in our daily routine creates brakes on the out-of-control feeling we get when we’re overwhelmed with work.
Let me paint a picture.
Your mental state without self-care habits:
Without self-care, this is likely to happen. You, a human person, are pushed to perform at maximum capacity for a long period of time. Without regard for your mental state, your physical health, and emotions, one day you reach a point where you just. Crash. How long before you crash, how severe the crash is, how the crash manifests itself and how long it takes to come out of the crash, all depends on the individual. It’s safe to say though, nobody wants to be in that situation.
Your mental state with self-care habits:
With self-care, ideally, your mental energy doesn’t get sapped too drastically. When you’ve included self-care as a habit, you stand a better chance of recovery from high-stress periods with much of your well-being intact.
I see your point, but you’re a money blog, why are you writing about self-care?
One, it’s my blog, I get to write whatever I want. And two, in the grand scheme of personal finance, people often underestimate the power of self-care.
Okay, I’m about to drop some tea here.
Every single person I know who’s ever gone through high-stress at work compensates by doing some of the stupidest shit with the money I’ve ever seen. Myself included.
Some things I’ve witnessed firsthand:
- Excessive clubbing and binge drinking
- “Retail therapy”
- Excessive traveling
- Massages, spas, facials, mani-pedis
- Binge eating (guilty as charged!)
All of these things are impulse spending decisions because we feel the need to escape from the shackles of capitalism
yes, I will forever blame every shitty thing happening on this Earth on late-stage capitalism, thank you very much.
We can prevent that crash and avoid all the unhealthy spending habits by taking care of ourselves.
My Self-Care Habits
Everyone should have a list of things they can do on a daily basis to bring themselves back to the equilibrium.
These are the self-care routines I do that barely cost me anything.
Getting 8 hours of sleep – Free
Sleep is extremely important. Not getting enough sleep affects mood, cognitive functions, and makes me even more stressed! I used to stay up all night and only get 5 to 6 hours of sleep and I was constantly miserable. Sticking to a sleep schedule becomes difficult when I work on side projects after work. But what use am I if I can’t think sharply the next day?
No social media before bed or after waking up – Free
This one is hard to stick by especially before bed. I spend endless time scrolling through cat videos on Instagram, which isn’t good. Studies have shown using your phone right before you sleep affects the quality of your sleep. Reducing social media use does wonders not only for your sleep but your mental health as well.
Exercise – Anywhere between free to S$80
As much as I suck at sticking to an exercise routine, I know it’s good for me. Exercise to me is akin to getting a child to eat broccoli . When you exercise, the brain releases endorphins aka the happy hormones. The more you exercise, the more relaxed you’ll feel. Additionally, I also feel a sense of accomplishment whenever I complete my workout routine. That in itself combats the shitty feelings.
Taking paid leave to stay home – Free
How many of you use your annual leaves to just stay at home, complete chores that were pending for ages and went running errands in not-crowded malls?
Isn’t it just the best?
DIY Spa – $5-$10
Forget going to a day spa for relaxation and pampering. You can do it at home. This usually happens on Friday nights. A scrub, mask and long shower do the trick for me.
Indulging in a hobby – Mostly free
I have 3 hobbies right now: Writing, playing the guitar and playing tennis. This is new to me because I never had hobbies before. I quite enjoy not having to work 3 jobs or study for exams for a change.
Listening to Stephen Fry talk about lavender fields – Free
Sometime last year when my anxiety was at its peak and I had trouble sleeping every night, I would listen to Stephen Fry narrate Blue Gold on the app Calm. Every night. There is a premium version but you have to pay a shitload of money for it. I’m sure there are better alternatives out there. For example, Youtube has tons of sleep aid videos to choose from. After moving to Singapore, I have since stopped using this app.
Spending time away or with loved ones – Free
Sometimes spending time away from loved ones can really reduce stress levels. In tumultuous family dynamics such as my own, being around each other right after having a shitty workday makes things worse for everyone involved.
On the other hand, if you’re from a close-knit family where support is found at home, lean into it and let yourself be loved.
Talk about or write my feelings – Free
A few days ago, I confided in a friend something I didn’t expect to come out of my mouth so soon: “I am not funemployed anymore”. As you know, I believe that funemployment is a state of mind. That if you can do work and still enjoy it, that is the essence of “funemployment”. It doesn’t mean that the work should be stress-free. On the contrary, the stress you feel should mean something. The stress should empower you and make you feel like you’re working towards something. That there is a payoff down the line.
As I talked to my friend about how I felt and subsequently wrote it down, it becomes a form of catharsis. This is essentially self-care.
And sometimes with this catharsis, realization happens and realization will eventually turn into a decision. And before you know it, that decision becomes your next self-care action.