Self care is personal

True story: I once ended up in therapy because I was so stressed out about adding a bunch – too many – self care to dos to my regular to do list. Like, how am I supposed to do everything I regularly need to get done while also doing all the other things I’m supposed to be doing to take care of myself? Deliberate self-care just made the problem worse.

Which is, I suppose, life’s way of telling me that I was doing it wrong. Self-care is supposed to be about making sure you’re taking the time to do what’s right for you, not what other people tell you are the things you should do.

What does this have to do with The Happy Healthy Non-Profit? Well, for the first two chapters (basically: all the ways we stress ourselves out) I was there. I enjoyed reading them and noticed that I was eating more vegetables, walking more, and taking more time for myself during the day. Then, in the third chapter where it got really detailed about all of the self-care items you should add to your to do list? All those pages of do-this-not-that? Stress city.

I was out. Just done. Completely. I’ve been there before, and it didn’t work for me. There was more of the book to be read, perhaps tips and tricks that would have been helpful, but I was having none of it.

That’s the point of self-care. It’s about you doing what’s right for you – my self care is not going to be your self care. My salad for breakfast (don’t knock it till you try it) is your too-much-work-too-early-in-the-morning.

Which, I guess means I should say: this book didn’t work for me. It might for you.

Civilization will out

A Gentleman in Moscow

After the US Presidential Election, I was a tad despondent. Picking up A Gentleman in Moscow was part of my personal self-care, along with listening to classical music and watching Pride and Prejudice. Why? Elegance makes me feel better. Civilization is still there, it’s just being overshadowed by something else right now.

But also because A Gentleman in Moscow takes place right after the Russian Revolution. The communists have just come into power, and the gentleman in question, Count Alexander Rostov, has been placed under house arrest in an the premier hotel in Moscow. The exploration of how to be civilized and stand for what you believe in during a regime that basically wants to forget you exist and repudiates what you stand for is a thread through the book that was helpful.

Which isn’t the overall point of the novel – it’s more about how to master your circumstances, rather than your circumstances mastering you. How do you stay sane when you’re not allowed to leave the hotel in which you live, having been relegated to a garret apartment? But because his exile is in the Metropol Hotel (again, the best in Moscow), he gets to meet a wide swath of people, including foreign journalists and ambassadors, not to mention see a number of the party congresses that need a place to meet.

It’s just as elegant and in favor of civilization as Rules of Civility was. Both books are highly recommended.