There’s Two Types of Self-Care – For Individuals AND Businesses

There is not just one type of self-care. There’s two – and focusing on just one is bad for both individuals and businesses. [1]

There’s additive self-care. That’s when you do something additional to care for yourself, as immortalized by Special Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks:

“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Everyday, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the Men’s store. A catnap in your office chair. Or two cups of good, hot black coffee.”

There’s also subtractive self-care. That’s when you remove something that is otherwise damaging to yourself. Perhaps it’s being a perfectionist on a writing assignment, or thinking you have to be able to do something, or must attend a function, and so on.

BOTH are important. Just adding more things to do – no matter how good or beneficial they are – just ends up providing a temporary respite and doesn’t deal with the underlying situation. Simply triaging or removing excess obligations or unrealistic standards may relieve the stress and pressure, but it doesn’t provide nourishment for your body or mind.

Using only one of these two types of self-care is, at best, slapping a band-aid on a gaping wound.

This applies not only in the private sphere, but in the business world as well. Think about it for a moment: the often-mocked "employee wellness programs" are, at best, additive self-care. Have some pizza. Spend some of your time out of work at yoga. Go to our gym before work. They rarely address the other side of self-care for employees – whether that’s a wage below a living wage, too few employees to do the work, inadequate equipment, or any of a bazillion structural problems that, if addressed, could actually improve efficiency and productivity over time.

If you don’t take the time to address both kinds of self-care, your body will force you to, eventually… whether your "body" is your individual physical one, or your "body" of employees.

Featured Photo by Pete Nowicki on Unsplash

[1] I’m using the terms "additive" and "subtractive" instead of "positive" and "negative" here, because that terminology is one of the more confusingly named bits of psychology. That terminology makes sense in a very literal sense (as explained in this blog post), but keeping it straight – particularly in conversation – can be extremely difficult.

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