Since my internship wrapped up, I’ve slowly had an opportunity to reconnect with friends, acquaintances, readers, and clients. People have been very kind about wishing me well as I move into a new chapter. Many folks have shared memories of their own intense experiences or periods of professional training.
A few people have mentioned to me that they appreciated hearing about how I took care of myself during the internship. At first I was surprised to hear it: the year often felt like a blur, and there were weeks at a time when taking care of myself looked like coming home, collapsing on the sofa with leftovers, and ignoring an ever-accumulating list of stuff that wasn’t getting done.
But I guess that’s the point. For the first time ever, I spent the last year prioritizing my health and sanity above everything else. This meant food and sleep were non-negotiable and everything else was secondary. My meals this year weren’t always memorable, but I always managed to get good nutrition. And while I wasn’t always well rested, I kept as regular a sleep schedule as I could. Whatever I needed to sacrifice to make food and sleep happen, I did. My third priority was to recharge with yoga, TV, and domestic time. I could have spent that time being more active and engaged, but I knew intuitively that rest and idleness were more important.
When the internship year started, I had all sorts of grand ideas about blog initiatives and work projects that I’d be able to do in tandem with my rotations. Quite literally none of it happened, and I was really OK with that. I’d have loved to do more creative work this year, but I only had so much energy. The internship demanded a lot of it, and what was left went to taking care of my well-being.
I cut a lot of corners this year. I missed some deadlines. My apartment was less tidy than usual. I didn’t socialize much, and I didn’t keep up with friends as consistently or thoughtfully as I usually do. I missed some birthdays and special occasions. Sometimes I did things, like taking taxis home when it was late, or ordering meals from Veestro, that felt like splurges.
Now that life is normalizing again, I can appreciate how smart all of this was. I was adapting to circumstance, which meant that I couldn’t always be as conscientious or detail-oriented as I usually am. It meant that I sometimes spent money on things that I’d regard as luxuries under everyday circumstances. It meant cultivating patience and having faith that work, friendship, dating, and other things I value would be waiting for me when the year was over. Patience doesn’t come easily to me, but this year I had no choice, and it was a good lesson in many ways.
I don’t think that my self-care this year was exemplary, but it undeniably self-care: a reshaping of priorities so that I could remain strong and avoid burnout, which I know from experience to be a depression trigger. I owed it to myself to give the internship what it deserved, and I owed it to my patients to be present and attentive. We hear this all the time, but it really is true that we can’t take care of others unless we take care of ourselves first.
I don’t know what self-care looks like for you, and I know it isn’t my place to give anyone else permission to prioritize it. But if it means anything at all, I wish balance and lovingly maintained energy to everyone who’s a part of this community. Call it self-care, call it a restructuring of priorities, call it recharging, call it whatever you like. I hope that you can always embrace it as a vital part of coping with life’s periods of stress and difficulty, and preserving well-being when things are easier. May you be able to embrace it without apology.
With that in mind, wishing you a happy Sunday night. Here are some recipes and reads.
I like the looks of this hearty vegan lasagna and the sauces in it.
I use store-bought vegan refried beans all the time, but I should make my own more often. This recipe is great inspiration.
A beautiful and vibrant vegan butter masala with tofu.
This savory breakfast fanatic is drooling over Jackie’s hash brown crusted frittata!
Finally, a beautiful marriage of cinnamon rolls and cardamom buns.
1. Discover magazine has a roundup of the top ten science experiments of all time, which is no doubt reductive but fun and informative nonetheless!
2. This week the UN published sobering report on malnutrition among the world’s children. So distressing, but important to be aware of.
3. I saw firsthand the cost of immobility among hospitalized patients this year, and I was glad to see attention called to the problem by a physical therapist in this op-ed.
4. More evidence in favor of meditation (and other ways of calming our monkey minds). 🙂
5. A little nerdy, but I really enjoyed this article on the influence that the Sanskrit alphabet had on Dmitri Mendeleev’s periodic table.
On that note, friends, it’s late, and I wish you a good rest. I’ll be back this week with a couple new, simple recipes.