Of course, here I don't want to talk about self-care that has been turned into an excuse to get out of just about everything, ultimately adding more work for everyone else you're working with (and therefore disrupting their ability to "self-care" as well), but a redefinition of our relationships to productivity and how we can avoid this type of "burn-out" self care altogether, as learned while in Iran.
The concept of individual "self-care" is a learned act, foreign to many AMEMSA (African, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian) people as continual self-sacrifice for a family or community is deeply inherent to collectivist communities of the "East" (as opposed to the Western model of individualism). It doesn't matter that you are sick and have two exams tomorrow -- if your friend is also sick you're bringing them homemade soup, pronto. But this mindset of serving others before looking after yourself does not play out in isolation: it is part of a larger culture and lifestyle that has a particular definition of productivity, idea of relationships, and outlook of time (why do you think we are always late!!) that sits almost directly contrary to Western, capitalist-infused culture.
How can I structure care--for myself and for others--into my routine as a way to prevent burn-out from solely work-related tasks and errands?
I still organize things in lists, and crossing things off of it is still positively correlated to my general happiness and sense of productivity, but I'm working on making sure my lists are not just composed of self-deprecating tasks like "finish responding to that email you started responding to last year" or "clean room. and life. but mostly room" but now I'm adding important things that allow me to re-charge and slow my pace, like "read something that will help you learn more about challenging anti-Muslim policies" or "call your mother," and crossing them off as productive.
|Photography: Daniel Che | Location: Southside, Chicago | Crossbody: c/o Coach|