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In this video, Chelsea talks about things we do for "self-care" that actually perpetuate burnout.

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Based on an article by Gina Vaynshteyn:

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Hello, it's Chelsea from The Financial Diet.

And I want to talk to you really quickly about our amazing, exciting, incredible, influential, iconic, unbeatable studio at TFD, a.k.a. our events department. Right now they're all digital, although hopefully soon they'll be coming back to a live space near you.

But every month, the studio at TFD produces several amazing interactive live events. And we have all of our events and more at Hey, guys, it's Chelsea from The Financial Diet, and this week's video is sponsored by Aspiration.

And if you haven't subscribed to us yet but you have been dying for more videos on money and how it deals with all elements of our life in a way that doesn't suck, click the Subscribe button down below. And today, I want to talk about a lot of the advice we probably hear swirling all around us right now, especially in a time where a lot of our lives probably don't look the way that we used to-- advice that's well-intentioned and meant to help us gain a sense of balance and control over our lives, but which can often end up kind of stressing us out even more. A lot of us are perhaps familiar with the concept of burnout, but may not quite have a realistic mental image of what burnout looks like in practice.

I think for a lot of us the concept of burnout, particularly as it pertains to our work-life balance or our career in general, is this moment where you're staring at your computer and your brain malfunctions and you can no longer work and you crash and you go to bed and you stay there for the next three weeks. And sometimes it does happen like that, but for many people, it doesn't. It's a much more sort of slow trickle, a low-grade sense that work is becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for you to accomplish every day, and an increasing negative impact on the other elements of your life-- just a generally increasing feeling that you're not really able to manage the things that you used to be able to manage.

In Ann Helen Petersen's book Can't Even, How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, she explains burnout much more eloquently, writing, "When you're in the midst of burnout, the feeling of accomplishment that follows an exhausting task never comes." She adds, "It's the sensation of dull exhaustion that, even with sleep and vacation, never really leaves. It's the knowledge that you're just barely keeping your head above water, and even the slightest shift-- a sickness, a busted car, a broken water heater-- could sink you and your family." And for a lot of us, especially in this time, we're often going to reach for that self-care advice to help sort of reclaim that sense of ownership over our days and the manageability factor when it comes to all we have to accomplish. But it's important we be careful that the self-care that we're pursuing is not erring into what we'll call here "toxic positivity," which is essentially this idea that has become quite prevalent during this COVID nonsense that you should remain positive and remain in control of your surroundings and even of your emotions.

It's natural for a lot of us to go through really difficult times, especially during a time like this, and denying or suppressing those ebbs and flows is likely to come back to haunt us. So it's important that, when we're consuming that self-care advice, we be as discerning as possible about what we really take into account and not accidentally try some of the strategies that might leave us more stressed out than when we started. So without further ado, the seven self-care tips you'll want to avoid.

Number one is to "only do what you're passionate about." So there's a pretty common myth out there that somehow still gains a lot of traction, even though most people who have ever worked a job could quickly verify that it's bullshit, and that's do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life. I'm someone who not only works in the industry I always wanted to work in-- media-- but also owns my own business. And I am here to tell you that, although I love what I do in a sort of abstract sense, most of my days are filled up with work that, like most work, isn't necessarily what I would want to do at that very moment.

I could be filling out insurance forms or on the phone with a lawyer or even recording these videos. And chances are I would rather be walking around a museum or shopping or eating or traveling to see a friend. At the end of the day, it's likely that no matter what your job is, most of your work hours are going to be filled with things that feel like-- well, no surprise-- work.

But the advice that following what you're passionate about or, quote unquote, "love" will automatically lead you down the right career path has two really negative implications. One is that when you're doing what you love, you're never really working, so you're also never really not working, which is how so many people who are in these sort of passion jobs can often end up letting their work bleed well into their personal lives and fail to hold up that balance, particularly if they're working for a company that sort of treats them like they should be grateful to be working there. But beyond that, it also sets up a sense of failure in people who are not necessarily working the jobs that they would, quote unquote, most describe as their "love" even if that job is well suited to their life, provides them a good living, gives a good work-life balance, et cetera.

It adds a completely unnecessary standard on top of all of the other qualifications for our career that many of us just realistically aren't going to be able to live up to. And a big part of that is because this desire to do what you love or what you're passionate about really blurs the lines between the work and the self. In that same book, Petersen talks about, quote, "lovable work." And the idea is that when you love what you do, not only does the labor behind it disappear, but your skill, your success, your happiness, and your wealth all grow exponentially because of it, which is not always the case, and it's unrealistic to count on this formula.

Quote, "The equation is, in itself, premised on a work-life integration poised for burnout. What you love becomes your work; your work becomes what you love. And there is little delineation of the day or the self." So just in pure terms of the amount of space your work takes up in both your life and your mind, focusing on doing what you're passionate about can often bring you closer to burnout.

Number two is "take a vacation and unplug." While definitely there can be utility to a well-timed vacation or a pause from work, if you're in a negative cycle with the work that you're doing and the current circumstances of your life, going on a vacation is kind of akin to just taking a pile of dirty clothes and shoving them under the bed for a few days. Those dirty clothes are still going to be there, and then your room also smells bad in the process. It's important that we understand that just taking a vacation is not in and of itself a way to hit the reset button on our relationship to work or how we're feeling in the rest of our life.

Of course, if you're working a job that doesn't allow for a good amount of relaxation time, that is an issue, more with the employer than anything else. But treating a vacation as a solution to a more endemic problem with your work issues is often going to leave you feeling unsatisfied, feeling that sense of dread creep right back in the second the vacation is winding to a close, and in many cases often costing you a lot of money in the process because vacations aren't cheap. It's important that, if you feel desperate for a vacation because your life feels overwhelming and unable to be dealt with, that you really address the underlying issues before you go on said vacation or even really consider it as an immediate answer.

If you're being overworked by your employer, for example, or feel that you're no longer able to create healthy boundaries if you're newly working from home, that problem isn't going to go away when you come back from work. So making a coherent plan to help resolve those issues before you plan any kind of vacation is going to ensure that you're not coming back to the mess that you left. The flippant advice to just unplug and go somewhere for a few days might sound good in practice or look good on Instagram, but it's not a solution to a dynamic that's leading to burnout.

Number three is "have a drink or two to unwind." Everyone is more than welcome to enjoy a glass of something or an edible of something or whatever helps them unwind at the end of a long day and enjoy their evening. A balanced life can contain a little bit of everything, and that's everything from sheet cake to a bourbon smash. But making alcohol or any other mind-altering substance a key ingredient of your relaxation routine isn't just not helping the issue.

It's also potentially creating another one. In many cases, we could be creating a system of alcohol dependence, which often starts with the dynamic of alcohol being framed as a kind of reward or a necessary medicine or antidote for a certain life issue. But even if it doesn't necessarily escalate into a more serious problem, needing something that takes you to a completely different state of mind in order to feel better about your reality is a warning sign about that reality.

To draw that same comparison with the aforementioned junk food, if you're having a slice of cake because it's really enjoyable, it's special, it's a treat, it's something you don't necessarily do all the time but enjoy all the more when you do versus if you're standing in the kitchen at 2:00 in the morning regularly eating forkfuls of sheet cake because it's the only thing that's calming you down enough to go back to sleep, that's not a good dynamic. It's important to identify if you feel like something like this is becoming a pattern or habit what specifically that mind-altering substance is doing for you. What is it specifically relieving for you, and what are the root causes of those issues that you can address rather than bludgeon?

Similarly to just going on vacation as a solution to your issues, it's important to remember that, if you're fixing something with that kind of a temporary Band-Aid type solution, you're probably just going to come back from vacation or wake up the next day after drinking with the exact same problems. As one example, if you're frequently finding yourself at the end of the day really unable to click out of that high-stress work mode, particularly if you're working at home and therefore have no delineation between the two physically, instill a routine that you do every day at the end of your workday that is enjoyable, that gets you out of the frame of mind of work, and forces some kind of distance between you and the stresses of your email inbox. After you complete that ritual-- and it could be anything from going for a long walk with a friend to having a nice phone call to working on a fun book or project that you're enjoying-- you have permission to do what you want.

But you'll no longer be in that high-stress frame of mind that you feel the need to escape from when you make the choice of what to do next. Number four is "just quit your job." Now, don't get me wrong. Sometimes, the answer really is to find a new job.

Of course, it should never be really referred to that flippantly. Of course, it should come with a long and thoughtful plan in which to do it. But sometimes, a work dynamic really can't be fixed and it may be time to move on.

However, even if you have the robust emergency fund required to comfortably quit a job and feel confident that you could find another one in short order, it's important to interrogate with yourself are there elements of this job that are likely to be recreated at any subsequent job if I don't change? Sometimes, a work environment is just inherently and uniquely toxic, or it's nearly impossible to work with a particular colleague or manager. But oftentimes, the negativity that we can experience in a particular job is much more to do with ourselves or the industry as a whole or the style of work itself than it is to do with a particular employer.

For example, the truth might be that the industry you're in isn't really satisfying to you, or the skill set that you have doesn't lend you to the kind of job you want to be doing, or you personally have a very difficult time setting up healthy work-life boundaries or asserting yourself in a group situation or advocating for yourself the way you need to in order to move up any ladder. There could be tons of issues outside of the employer itself that's making your work feel particularly difficult, especially now when so many of us are juggling a million things on top of just doing the work. So I highly recommend doing a thorough career analysis before you make the decision to quit, even if you could afford to do it today, because it's likely that by doing this kind of analysis-- and our friend Career Contessa has tons of great questionnaires and walkthroughs-- that you will discover elements of your own working style and how you fit into your broader industry that you may not have really considered going into it because you're just so sick of your day-to-day grind that all you can focus on is getting out of that particular job.

Number five is "treat yourself." I feel like few phrases have done a more consistent level of damage to the sort of National American psyche than the phrase "treat yourself," which has been taken completely out of context and used to justify all kinds of behavior that, on the longer term, might actually end up hurting us. Quite often, our most impulsive and short-term desires are not really informed by what we need or what is good for us or what would even help us feel better in anything approaching the longer term. We might feel a temporary hit of serotonin from doing things like online shopping right now or eating food that makes us feel like crap or drinking too much or binge watching television instead of ever opening a book.

And doing the alternative in any one of these choices can oftentimes take a little bit of extra effort at the beginning. Of course, it always feels worse for the first five minutes to work out instead of just sitting on the couch for another hour. But almost invariably, not only do you feel better after having done the former, but with each subsequent workout it gets easier and easier.

That initial sort of startup effort is something that can be really easy to dismiss if we're in that "treat yourself" mentality. And almost any kind of purchase or whim can be justified as long as we put it in that self-care framing. Quite often, what might feel in the moment like treating ourselves is really trying to give our brains a very temporary solution to a deeper problem.

For example, if you find yourself frequently shopping online and then feeling that excitement disappear as soon as the package has been opened and then inclined to get another thing to feel that rush again, interrogate why you are shopping like that. Every time you feel an inclination to, write down how you feel. Write down what you wanted to buy.

Give yourself permission after a week of that self-reflection to buy what you want again. But commit to at least analyzing the behavior for just a week before you can go right back into it if you so choose. By giving yourself permission to re-up the behavior if you want, you won't feel so deprived.

And it's very likely that, after a little bit of taking a pause, breaking the cycle, and interrogating the underlying issues, you're going to be much less likely to routinely fall into that habit. For you, it might not be online shopping. It might be eating food that you know isn't very good for you or having too many drinks or consuming media in a way that isn't very healthy-- guilty, guilty, guilty-- but ultimately, it's important to remember that what might start out as a treat can often just becoming another bad habit.

And the more we give ourselves permission to keep that really thin self-care framing on top of the bad habit, the easier it will be to justify not changing, even when we know that this behavior isn't helping us. Number six is "just say no." There is so much talk online about the importance of setting boundaries, and I've even mentioned it a few times in this video. But I do think the advice around this issue can often be a little bit flippant and not really acknowledging how difficult it can be to keep any job, let alone during a global pandemic when millions of people are being laid off.

Part of what makes the "just say no" or "set your boundaries and move on" talk a little bit annoying to me is that it often comes from people who are in a very privileged place, either financially or professionally, and can afford to do so unilaterally. I think the important thing here, in terms of taking this self-care advice in a way that's productive without leading to more issues, is identifying how saying no to certain things can allow you to say yes to others in a way that creates a bit of balance. To give an example, if you have a boss or a co-worker who is frequently messaging you outside of work hours and causing you anxiety, that could be an area where tapering off your responses at that time can start to send an inherent message that you're not really reachable outside of those hours.

However, if you make sure that your response to all of those messages is incredibly thorough and thought-out and really clearly answers their questions or gives them something valuable, you'll start to create that incentive dynamic where they know that if they reach out to you at the right time, they're going to get a solid response. It's also very important when you're setting expectations upfront with any kind of work situation to usually, if possible, respond with a "yes, and" scenario. It can be very easy to agree to things upfront that aren't a truly realistic timeline for us or really conflict with other work we have going on because we want to please everyone and we don't want to be a disappointment.

However, that often gets us in the situation of having to make excuses or not delivering on something at all. Getting in the habit of being very clear upfront that you would love to do X or Y but will need X or Y parameters in terms of time or help or resources in order to accomplish it sets everyone up from the beginning in terms of what they can expect, allows you to succeed on your own terms, and clearly paints you as someone who is reliable and there when it is needed. Part of the issue with setting boundaries is that it has to happen up front for any new given project or task.

It's much, much harder to set them after the fact, when we've already gone past our own parameters. And while we all have different working styles and communication preferences so long as you are available and reliable in your own way, you don't always necessarily feel that you have to acquiesce to everyone else's needs. You might have a colleague who prefers more spur-of-the-moment phone calls, but if that doesn't work for you, making sure your calendar is always up to date and that you're always welcome to take a scheduled call on fairly short notice about a topic can be a good compromise.

Just saying no sounds good on paper, but often, in the realities of the workplace, doesn't quite work out. Saying "yes, and" is often a much better approach. Lastly, number seven is "just change your scenery." Right now we're hearing a lot about digital nomads who have taken advantage of the fact that working remotely can mean, for many people, working from anywhere, and have traveled to live in different places or put all their belongings in storage and road trip or done any number of things to change where they're working while they can.

Now, I'll be honest. I find this ethically dubious at best with a whole-ass pandemic going on, but that's none of my business. That said, it's become a more common refrain than ever to switch up your environment if you're feeling stagnant where you are.

Now, leaving aside the fact that for financial, professional, familial, or any other number of reasons, that is not possible for many people, whether it's for a permanent surroundings change or just more substantial travel than usual, it also doesn't really address any of the fundamental issues that would drive most of us to change our locations in the first place. If we really do feel all of a sudden that we should be moving completely from the place that we are-- let's say, for example, we live in a big city and are suddenly feeling that maybe we'd be better off in somewhere where we could have a yard and a dog and all of that stuff-- that may well be valid. But it's certainly not the kind of decision that should be made spur of the moment.

And in fact, data has already shown that people who panic moved as a result of COVID-19 are already starting to show regrets in that choice. And it's no surprise. Such a massive life change, coupled with the huge financial commitment of moving to a completely different area, is not the kind of decision you should be making for anything other than serious personal reasons after a long process of thinking out the best way to do it.

But treating your surroundings, whether it's the literal home that you live in within your own city or the city or even country itself, is really treating a symptom and not the problem. While, yes, occasionally a change in location can provide us a lifestyle that's more adapted to our needs, that shouldn't really be framed under the context of self-care or addressing professional unsatisfaction. You're really just putting up a new backdrop in many cases to the same exact person that you've always been.

One thing to do if you're feeling unsettled where you are or stagnant or like you may want to take advantage of remote work to change locations is to do some journaling and self-interrogation. And I know I'm a bit of a broken record with regards to this, but truly, one of the biggest issues that we're all experiencing with this massive change in our lifestyles is an inability to really get centered in how we actually feel about all of these things because so many of the issues that we're being confronted with and changes that we're experiencing are externally enforced on us. Would we feel the same way about our city if we were back in the office every day, which many of us likely will be next year?

Hard to say unless you really interrogated. If we're feeling unsatisfied with our job suddenly, is it more because we have to work at home all of a sudden versus the actual job itself? Something to look into.

If we're not feeling as connected with the people in our own city as we normally would be and are considering maybe a move for that reason, is it because those connections are less valid or just because it's so much more difficult to see them in this time? All of these things can feel on the surface like they're pushing us toward a massive change. And for many of us, changing surroundings can feel like the most instantaneous way to really affect that kind of change in response.

But taking the time to actually understand our own feelings and our reasons for wanting the things we want, regardless of the external factors being presented to us, is an important way to make sure that what we're doing is the right decision for us and not a panic decision. And yes, even if you do decide that a move is the right thing for you, particularly if you're even thinking about buying a home, that's not the sort of thing that should happen on anything less than a year-long timeline. At the end of the day, we are being bombarded with more bogus self-care advice than ever.

We're being faced with unprecedented circumstances that are making many of us feel unsettled in the basic elements of our life, in many cases, especially our careers. But it's important to remember that these circumstances will pass and that much of the bad self-care advice out there is likely to leave us more stressed than when we started if we follow it blindly. But one choice that you will never regret making is finding a better place to keep your money.

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You just have to spend $1,000 in the first 60 days of opening. So click the link in our description to get started. And as always, guys, thank you for watching and do not forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos.