Holding the line on self-care
Sometimes life decides to test how serious you are about self-care. Not necessarily by throwing major curve balls – those would be obvious. When there’s an emergency, clearly sometimes boundaries need to be crossed temporarily, for the good of all. I’m talking about a form of ‘scope creep’.
Scope creep is a concept from project management. It’s what happens when a project’s scope changes beyond what everyone originally agreed upon, without adjusting the corresponding schedule, budget, or resource needs. People find themselves confronted with extra work they hadn’t planned on doing, and it can be very draining and damaging to team morale, as well as potentially sending costs skyrocketing.
Outside a work environment, we can also find ourselves dealing with increased demands on our time, energy and caregiving resources. It’s OK – it happens, but it’s important to recognize when it’s happening, and be sure to adjust our self-care resources as much as possible.
I recently had a situation in which three people dear to me all required extra care from me – all in the same week, and all for excellent reasons. It would have been easy for me, as an inveterate caregiver, to spend all my time taking care of other people’s needs while neglecting my own.
Running outside is a staple of my self-care — for my mental health, as well as physical. I have certain time slots set aside in my schedule for running, and I wasn’t honouring them as I should. It was a little too easy to let my own needs slide while dealing with those of others. This is a form of scope creep, too. The extra demands creep up on us, and before we know it, we have let go of things we had set aside for ourselves. If we find ourselves feeling burned out and resentful, the voices in our heads tell us we are selfish for feeling that way. It’s not selfishness – it’s an important reminder about the need to allocate more resources when the scope increases.
As a reminder, I’m not talking about an emergency situation here – just other people’s needs being increased, hopefully for a limited time. The scope of caregiving increases, but we sometimes forget to allocate extra care to the caregiver, too.
I am proud of myself that I was able to say, “I’m going for a run, I’ll be back in about an hour and a half, we can continue with this then.” Doing what nurtures us in times of stress and extra demands, even if we must be creative in finding time for it, is crucial for being able to give the kind of care we love giving to people who matter to us, while avoiding resentment and burnout.
How do you protect your self-care in times of stress? I’d love to know!
West Kildonan community correspondent
Hadass Eviatar is a community correspondent for West Kildonan.