In our LifeSTAR program we emphasize self-care for both the men and the women as a way to fight addiction and heal trauma. Physical, emotional, and spiritual self-care are essential to help individuals get grounded and do the hard work of recovery. I’ve been reading a new book by therapist Julie de Azevedo Hanks called “The Burnout Cure“, which is basically a self-care manual for overwhelmed women. While it’s written specifically for an LDS audience and addresses some of the unrealistic cultural pressures faced by LDS women, the information in this book is a gold mine for anyone who wants to improve their self-care. I have really enjoyed reading this book and learning new ways to improve my own self-care.
I had a chance to interview Julie about her book and ask some questions that I felt were relevant to individuals involved in our program. Here is the interview:
1. Why should busy women make time to read this book?
Busy women should make time to read this book because we all need a reminder that our needs matter. It’s easy to get swept up in taking care of others and forgetting to tune in to our feelings and needs and to include ourselves in our circle of care. This book is interactive and filled with exercises to help you apply the concepts and make real changes in your life.
2. What do you say to women who believe they should be able to “do it all”?
First of all, I really dislike the word “should”. I want to encourage women to decide what they value most, what brings them joy, and prioritize those things. No one can “do it all” but we can do and have the things that we value most.
3. How can women tune out the unhealthy pressure of perfectionism?
I think it’s important to remember that perfection is a myth. No one can pressure you to be “perfect” without your consent. In one section of the book I talk about the importance of acknowledging our strengths while we’re working to improve ourselves and our lives.
One of the motivators of perfectionism is the belief that our worth is tied to our appearance or our performance – that if we are performing “well” or meeting our own or other’s expectations of us that our worth goes up, and conversely, if we aren’t being a “good mother” or a “good wife” or a “good neighbor” we are somehow less valuable. It’s just not true. Our worth is constant. Our behavior is separate from our worth, and fluctuates on any given day.
4. How can a crazy-busy woman start with self-care?
I encourage women to take just one small step toward taking better care of themselves. Pick one thing that brings you joy and prioritize it every day. Maybe it’s exercise, or reading, or napping, or painting, whatever it is build it into your life. I often use the analogy of the instructions given on airplanes regarding the oxygen mask.: “Place your mask on first, then assist others.” When our personal needs are met there is more of us to offer to our loved ones.
5. Do men need self-care as much as women? Why or why not?
Humans need emotional self-care. It’s our responsibility to make sure that our emotional needs are being met. One of the “cures” I discuss in the book is “take responsibility for your own happiness” and I believe this applies equally to men and women. Since women are often acutely tuned in to the needs of others, it’s easy to let their own needs get drowned out. Women are often socialized to be the primary caretakers, they tend to wrestle with guilt, more than men do, when it comes to identifying and caring their own personal needs.
If you want to pick up a copy of the book, click here. It’s a wonderful read and a much-needed resource in today’s high-pressure and fast-paced culture.