Self-care Sundays are dead.
Or at least, they should be. You may be thinking, “But Ashley, isn’t that what Circling the Sandbox is all about? Finding new ways to care for oneself?”
Of course, but in a holistic, sustainable way!
While I’m always on the lookout for self-care ideas, I also believe in sustainable methods that enable an individual to live life to the fullest.
Self-care has a rich history, starting as a radical concept to buffer tyrannical systems. But currently, even systems that self-care was initially formed to buffer against are jumping on the bandwagon, as reports of employee burnout are heard far and wide. In case you didn’t already know, I also did a few years in HR, so this is another issue close to my heart.
Self-care Sundays is a catchy phrase and one that our highly Christian culture can adopt fairly easily.
I mean, Sunday is already considered by many to be a day of rest. So it seems natural that culturally we would seamlessly integrate it into that day, right?
But, taking care of oneself doesn’t need to only occur on self-care Sundays. I mean, it’s nice to take care of yourself that day as well, but wouldn’t it be great to care for yourself every day?
I believe integrating self-care on a daily basis is incredibly helpful. Moms out there know that life doesn’t always fit a perfectly planned schedule, and sometimes you just need to take the five minutes you’re alone to close your eyes and feel the sun on your skin.
So here are five reasons to ditch self-care Sundays!
1. Reinforces unhealthy productivity standards with the concept of “earning” time for oneself.
There are unrealistic expectations of what an individual can do in the course of one day from an employer’s perspective. While in our work environments, we are exchanging our time and labor for financial gain, the same is not true of our personal lives. We aren’t on the clock, earning anything in exchange for labor or time.
This has been particularly difficult for me to navigate myself, as I grew up quite poor. It is still a radical concept for me that I don’t have to constantly be productive.
Having a baby also slowed me down A LOT! Becoming a mother taught me that just because I’m sitting doesn’t mean I’m actually relaxed. Any nursing moms out there probably get where I’m coming from. Being bound to a couch when your child won’t go in a baby-wearing contraption can really put a dent in your day!
2. Is an inadequate buffer to burnout culture, which demands productivity most of the week.
Employers’ interest in preventing burnout is largely born to stave off attrition. It’s costly to onboard and train people to have them quit. Knowledge and experience are walking out the door, and the ex-HR professional in me understands what that can do to any agency or company.
While I have been in some workspaces that honor boundaries and try their best to make reasonable requests, there are far more that do not. And putting on a yearly wellness retreat or webinars in self-care just doesn’t cut it.
It’s especially harmful when a workplace’s ideas and actions aren’t in sync. There aren’t enough wellness seminars an agency can throw that will counteract poor work-life balance, unrealistic workloads, or nonexistent communication.
3. Reinforces limited time to “fill your cup first,” perpetuating the idea that we are only worthy of self-care in order to provide support to others. It is, again, a form of earning the right to take care of oneself.
Self-care Sundays are perceived as a highly female endeavor, something women do to care for themselves so as to be able to care for others. “Fill your cup first” is something I see a lot about self-care in general. While not a terrible concept, I believe it misses a crucial element of self-care, specifically that the individual takes care of oneself because it is essential to their health and well-being alone.
It misses the mark that life is meant to be enjoyed where you can. Day-to-day toil can be arduous, back-breaking, and above all else, humbling. While hard work and moving toward goals is another wonderful part of life, it also can take us out of many moments and put us in a frame of mind that we need to always work toward being better. It doesn’t allow us to appreciate who we are and what we need right now.
While well-intentioned, especially for moms in helping professions, it diminishes the fact that self-care is essential for an individual’s well-being, and that reason is enough!
4. A single day of scheduled self-care hinders activities that may occur organically.
This concept was classic 20-something-year-old Ashley. I worked a job with huge on-call requirements. But at the time, it didn’t bother me. I didn’t own a home or have a child.
The job also allowed me to travel around the country quite a bit, for which I am highly grateful.
Due to these on-call hours, I didn’t have much time to take off consistently, and I could always be called at the drop of a hat, even in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping.
So I always made sure I planned a large-scale vacation far in advance. As long as it wasn’t my on-call rotation turn, my employer was cool with it.
However, it made me hunger for 2 weeks out of an entire year. The rest of my year was at the mercy of my phone ringing, and eventually, that took its toll.
I missed many opportunities to integrate self-care into my life in a holistic, sustainable way. By missing out on that, it took me years to achieve the kind of balance I desired to have in my life.
I wasn’t making time during my days to read a good book, savor the moments I was outdoors, or even just enjoy the peace of mind that comes from not dreading your phone ringing.
To learn about optimizing self-care opportunities, check out my post Go From Procrastinator to Self Care Planner!
5. Simply, one day of caring for oneself isn’t enough.
Self-care Sundays fail because one day out of seven to engage in joy or relaxation just can’t cut it.
Think about if you start a new workout routine. Would one day out of the week be enough to reach your goals or implement a healthier lifestyle? Of course, not! Self-care is no different. As a matter of fact, exercise is one of my crucial self-care activities. And in no way would I mentally or physically be satiated only working out on self-care Sundays.
There are always ways to implement self-care, even in the small moments. It could look like taking a walk on your lunch break. It could be reading a book or listening to your favorite song. The point simply is that joy is meant to be had throughout our lives and not restricted to one day out of the week.
Self-care Sundays may be dead. But it can give life to the rest of your week, including Sundays!
What acts of self-care do you do throughout the week to bring joy to your life? My recent favorite has been practicing tarot. Read about the reasons I love this activity here.
Drop a comment below or send me an email. May you find the balance you’re looking for!