Do you ever feel frazzled? If the conversations I have with my clients are anything to go by, the answer is categorically yes….most of the time. When I start to unravel the number of things they are managing it is never-ending and, at this time of the year, the list is even longer and the pace even quicker. As women’s place in society has evolved so too, it seems, has the job description! Add into the mix our natural tendency to put everyone else before ourselves and the result is an incredibly stressful existence with little time for self care.
Life can feel like a tornado constantly gathering pace, whipping you up in its centre, blurring perspectives, sapping energy and taking away the ability to think clearly or reassess priorities. Rather than acknowledging the load we are carrying, as women, we are much more likely to feel as if whatever we do is not enough and worse than that, there’s a overriding sense of guilt that we are not doing everything we should be. ‘Is this it?’ is a question I hear way more frequently that I ever thought possible. My answer: it is if you allow it to be.
It seems to me that the solution lies within each of us. At the heart of it must be a willingness to think differently, to celebrate rather than overlook achievements and most importantly of all, to move ourselves up the priority list. This is not selfish or self indulgent, it is quite simply essential to our wellbeing and quality of life.
Last week was national self care week and it proved a timely reminder of how important, and yet how rare, it is to take quality time out to bring joy and peace into our lives. Starting with our retreat last weekend, I am on a mission to change this!
Before you say I am too busy, here’s some tips on how to make it happen:
- Time -the most commonly used reason to resist change. ‘Busy’ is the standard response when asked how we are and it’s generally trotted out before considering the reality or thinking about what we are actually busy doing. We’re just BUSY. To help with this, it is a useful exercise to analyse how you are spending your time. A few days of writing everything down is often very revealing and can provide the solutions you are looking for. How much time are you spending answering emails as they come in -would it be more time efficient to allocate a set time to do them? How often do you find yourself on social media or surfing the internet – is that more important than having quality time to feed your soul? How good are you at delegating – are there any tasks that you can offload? Obviously no one can do them like you can but maybe good enough is ok if it means more time to spend doing things that enhance your life rather than drain it. Suffice it to say, it’s always possible to find time.
- Planning – once you have worked out how you are really spending your time, make sure you plan it as effectively as you can. Allocate windows to do the most important projects and put a specific time limit round them so there is less likelihood of them running over. Make sure that they are achievable in the time available. Try not to cram too much in and most important of all make sure you prioritise (see below) the most important thing – you!
- Prioritise – to do lists have their place but they are never ending and no matter how hard or long you work you never get to the bottom. Challenge your traditional thinking and start to prioritise your ‘me-time’. Allocate space for this before anything else. I can testify to the fact that just half an hour each day doing something you enjoy can make a huge difference to your quality of life and what’s more, you’ll be even more productive than before. Often it is the little things that bring the most pleasure: a walk in the park, quiet time with a book, or simply taking time to breathe and appreciate everything we have. Commit to making it happen…. starting now.
- Mind management – just as correct nutrition makes a huge difference to your physical performance, so what you feed your mind impacts massively on your mental wellbeing. Research shows that your brain is constantly changing with new neural pathways and connections created at every turn. These neural pathways are influenced by the thoughts you think, the external stimuli you are exposed to, the people you mix with and so on. The more negativity and clutter the brain is ‘fed’ the more that will impact on the quality of your life. If you tell the brain ‘I’m too busy…’, ‘I can’t…’, ‘Other things are more important…’ it’s pretty certain you won’t! Feed it instead with regular doses of things that make you happy, however simple. Relieve it if only for a short time each day, of the constant clutter of to things to do, people to see. Give it the nourishment it needs and it will deliver great things for you.
- Your life – you only have one life and the choice is entirely yours as to how you live it. Equally you are not responsible for the quality of everyone else’s – that choice is theirs. Learning to love yourself and celebrate who you are, to understand and prioritise your own needs often goes against the grain and yet it is critical to our happiness.
Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable and you are worth the effort. Deborah Day
Self care is the way forward – start today. Let me know what you will be doing differently!