I Don’t Have Time for That - and Why You Should Make Some.
The Art of Self-Care
Ahh, Self-care… That old nut shell.
I bet you see reminders everyday on social media: “Take care of yourself first so you can take care of others”, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” and “Self-love is not selfish”. We are being inundated by the message, and we (read I) think that we will start tomorrow, and just keep on keeping on.
Sound familiar? You aren’t alone.
At the risk of sounding a bit like a broken record I am going to give you my take on the subject.
It has been shown over and over that women often prioritise other people’s well being above their own. Their children, their husbands and partners, their parents, their jobs – all of these will be prioritised above giving themselves a small snippet of time, an experience or a “treat”. Something that will allow them to simply reconnect with themselves.
I am guilty of this too. In the last couple of years I started to “neglect” myself by being busy with “life” as I put it. I started a project that, although satisfying in terms of skill growth and confidence, took up a lot of time. I neglected myself, and sometimes even those around me to prioritise something that was really not that important in the long run.
On top of that I was still working full-time and trying to start a business! Why? Because I wanted to and it brought me joy. But it also brought me tiredness, a feeling of being time-poor and an imbalance between priorities.
My exercise stopped - late nights meant that early mornings stopped, my runs and workouts stopped (and I was always too tired when I got home, and besides I had to do X, Y and Z before the weekend...).
I had no time to stop and do the things I like to do, after all, when I wasn’t doing X, Y and Z I had to spend time with my husband and family. I didn’t want them to feel neglected.
But I stopped taking time for me. I no longer ran, I didn’t put on nail polish, I didn’t sit in my back yard in the sunshine, I didn’t read my books. I rushed from one task to the next, I didn’t stop to enjoy the journey I was on, I didn’t stop to process it at all.
And then I dropped all the plates I was spinning. I looked around at the mess I had made.
- I had put on nearly 15 kgs; my clothes were no longer comfortable to wear, and those are the ones I can get on and do up (my gorgeous dresses are just expensive dust collectors at the moment).
- I stressed out every time someone asked if I could do something for them, I mean, how on earth was I going to fit all of that in?
- I cry at inconvenient and embarrassing moments. I cry out of frustration. I cry at TV ads…
- My immune system seems to be in a little bit of overdrive.
- And, most importantly, I noticed the ripple effect that I have had on those around me.
I realise that those years in my 20s and early 30s when I had regular massages, enjoyed lying on the beach in summer, did manicures and pedicures (and always wrecked the polish before it dried), sat on the couch for an entire afternoon while I devoured a book and didn’t “schedule in” time with my friends and loved ones – I was thrived, I was happy and I was content. I was definitely healthier than I am now, and I had energy to give to others.
I want that again.
So, as I re-manoeuvre my plates to the top of their poles to start spinning again, I have made it my priority to spin the “self” plate first. This is the number 1 plate, the plate that may wobble and slow sometimes, but will be the last plate spinning next time they all crash down.
Finally, here is my challenge to you.
Don’t just pass the reminders to look after yourself by again. Take a screen shot of your feed they appear in. Schedule in some time in your diary. Look after you.
I’ll make it easy, here are some things you can do to look after yourself. This list is not exhaustive, but you can pick one each day, pick the same one each day, find your own source of recharge, take 5 minutes, or give yourself a whole day, but do something….
Get up early and enjoy a few minutes alone before everyone else gets up.
Take a few minutes in the day and listen to the birds, really listen.
Stop to take a few deep breathes.
Stand in the power pose for a minute (stand like superman – fists on your hips, chest puffed out, head up and breathe).
Paint your own nails your favourite colour.
Take a bubble bath.
Read a book.
Get a facial or massage (or both).
Take a walk in the sunshine.
Listen to an amazing podcast while you’re in your car/on the bus.
Light a candle and dim the lights just for yourself.
Meet up with your best friend and just have a chat.
Bake a cake, or cookies, or make your own spaghetti.
Turn of the TV, the computer, your phone.
Do something that tests your comfort zone so that you can enjoy that feeling of accomplishment afterwards
Take a swim at the beach.
Play some mini golf.
Play with your dog, or pet your cat, or sing with your bird (and if you don’t have your own pet, borrow someone else’s).
Do a crossword or puzzle.
Get your photo taken (you know I had to put that one in *wink*)