Why do we find it rewarding when we are busy or overworked, but feel guilty when we rest and take our time? Feeling uncomfortable with silence is common, says psychological astrologer Jennifer Freed. She finds that some people overcompensate for productivity because they don’t want to face their inner needs. But take your time
Checking in to yourself is valuable because it allows you to emerge to the world with renewed energy and grace. Freed believes that equal parts exercise, healthy eating, reflection and creativity are the key to achieving balance. She gives tips below on how to meet any need based on astrology. Moving away from the culture of bustle and entering this new paradigm takes work, and the first step is to lead with compassion rather than comparison.
Self-care is work
With the world still on a roller coaster of crisis and opportunity, it has never been more important to put on our own oxygen mask first. We can only successfully meet the complex and ongoing requirements of this time if we respond to an optimal sense of wellbeing.
Recently, eight members of the administrative team at AHA !, the nonprofit I co-founded, spent four days on a retreat and renewal retreat (after all of them were COVID tested). We spent a few hours a day in leadership workshops. We spent the rest of our time resting and getting much-needed physical activity.
On our first round of check-in, at least two of our staff noticed that they felt guilty about being on the run with so much to do.
These are mothers who not only work more than forty hours a week for this non-profit organization, but also cook, clean and organize childcare for their children who are studying at home.
They came to the retreat feeling malnourished, out of shape, and exhausted. As a leader, I had a strong suspicion that if they continued to give themselves away at this rate, they would be heading towards health challenges and emotional disorders.
If you’ve identified yourself with what our admin team members said, “I don’t feel like I deserve a break because there is too much to do,” you are in good company. This attitude has become the norm for too many.
The stress of 2020 could have long-term consequences. As we move through this time, we can spot some overarching social contracts that have affected our health and wellbeing, contracts that are more difficult to keep with the added burden of this pandemic.
Such a contract includes a narrative in which passing and overworking are indicators that we are living noble and honorable lives. Multitasking and plugging in have become signs of strength and social security.
We have a tremendous opportunity not only to change some historical inequalities in our country, but also to deal with one of the most damaging beliefs we have collectively succumbed to: the idea that selflessness ranks next to godliness.
It takes work to withstand the damning messages that we are only as valuable as our tireless efforts to others. Our cultural habit is to applaud people who say things like:
“I pulled another all-nighter!”
“I can’t wait to finally have a moment to have a martini.”
“I’m just so busy that I don’t know where to find the time to exercise.”
“Wow, it’s amazing how much you’ve done this week!”
“I only slept four hours last night and today I have a ten-hour day.”
And rarely do we compliment each other when we say things like:
“Today I had a lot of peace and quiet and time to think.”
“I spent the morning taking time to nourish my body and soul.”
“My job is a great support for the balance of my well-being.”
We have subconsciously equated ourselves with weakness, forbearance, or laziness, and we’ve loudly equated manic productivity and multitasking with bravery, kindness, and praise.
Many of us feel that we will not be valued unless we expend more energy than we could possibly have. As one team member put it this way, “I got the idea that I have to work, work, work and put in a lot of energy and effort to deserve my oxygen. I’m afraid that appearing relaxed and calm means that I’m slacking off or being lazy. ”
In some cases, hyperactivity covers other issues, such as loneliness, a sense of irrelevance or meaning, unhappy relationships, and untreated trauma. Problems like these are a source of great difficulty and dissatisfaction, and they can only be solved if we take the time to look under the hood. The busier we get, the more denial we can live with. We need to get out of the eternal culprit’s adrenaline and cortisol race and into a calmer, more balanced physical state in order to even begin addressing these deeper issues.
As we run around, lost in our own busyness and the importance we give ourselves in it, we lose sight of the larger world that surrounds us. Now is not the time to take your eyes off this big picture.
Imagine a million ants running to build their own little mound. Right next to their gigantic feat is a stream that will run over and destroy all of their work. Here we are. It is time for us to become the queen ant who knows her inner and outer territory so well that she can make others work well rather than blindly following.
The truth is that the resistance against manic martyrdom is actively protesting. The social rewards people get for their hyperproduction are extremely alluring. Taking time to rest, play, connect and create is the work of soul building. Stopping the excessive stress and allowing time every day for exercise, healthy eating, reflection and creativity is a love job.
One way to start: do a check-in with the people you care about. At AHA !, we do this weekly with our 25 employees as well as with teenagers in our groups.
The exercise looks like this:
Rate yourself one to ten on self care. If you do the following things each day of the week, give yourself a ten; If you don’t do one of them, give yourself one; If you do some of these at times, you’ll find a middle ground:
Going to bed at a decent time (even if you have trouble sleeping)
Consumption of nutritious foods and drinks
Take time to reflect (prayer, meditation, journal, sitting under a tree)
Take time for creative expression (dance, art, doodling, cooking, journaling, writing)
For example: last week I did most of these things every day, except to eat well. I gave up my usual clean food diet and had a stomach ache for a few days. So I would rate myself seven.
Many of our staff and youth have reported that weekly group accountability by sharing their self-care number has increased the prioritization of their wellbeing. This simple check-in has helped us create a climate where balance is rewarded, not prostrate to endless performance.
Each of us must find others who will support our wellbeing and create a culture of empowerment for self-sufficiency. If we are to stop this unsustainable pace of hyperactivity, we must rely on each other to end the competition and compare who is most productive and exhausted.
In every human being the seed of wholeness is waiting to be planted and cared for. Astrology gives us twelve signs that point to a balancing energy system that, if observed, provides us with the hints and practices to achieve a centered and balanced life.
Here’s what we can learn about self-care from the energy of each astrological sign.
Aries: Get up and do your cardio before the day runs out of energy.
Bull: Prioritize hugging and positive touch. Get bodywork if you can.
Twins: Study affirmative words and hang out with friends laughing out loud.
Cancer: Make your own very nutritious and comforting food.
Lion: Make sure you have at least one creative outlet or hobby that you do regularly.
Virgin: Eliminate toxic elements from your life – both people and environmental substances.
Libra: Surround yourself with beauty and make your small and large rooms sparkle with joy.
Scorpio: Dig yourself into the deep emotions. Take your time and help release difficult feelings.
Sagittarius: Never let your habits and routines get too boring. Make sure you expand your physical and philosophical horizons further.
Capricorn: Establish schedules that highlight the time for quiet reflection and rest. Be there on purpose.
Aquarius: Make sure you have a crew of friends who love you and listen to you and adhere to high standards of self love.
Fish; Spend time just imagining and dreaming. Listen to music and dance. Live in positive ways.
Self-care is not a pleasure for those who have free time; It is a basic need of every human being and a prerequisite for bringing the planet itself back into a sustainable direction.
Jennifer Freed, PhD, is a consultant, workshop leader, and author with over 30 years of experience in psychological astrology and social-emotional learning. Freed acts as a consultant for the Co-Star app and is the author of Use Your Planets Wisely: Master Your Cosmic Potential with Psychological Astrology.
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