Sometimes it’s rough to keep up with the speed of everything going on around you. There is never an end to the appointments, deadlines, and activities. However, there is a secret to making sure you take care of business and yourself.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be sitting at work, or at home doing chores, and have someone come up to you and say, “Hey, you need a break! Why don’t you drop everything you are doing right now and take care of you?” While this has been known to occur, in most cases it is a fantasy. Don’t hold your breath, hoping that someone will notice how much hard work you are doing and recommend that you take time for self-care. The truth is, you have to do it yourself. I will address below a few things I tried out recently to prioritize self-care in my own life while getting things done.
1. Calm your world down with a temporary social media fast
Recently, I began to feel that there was so much information whizzing around me that I simply could not process any of it anymore. It was difficult to focus on my own priorities, much less address anyone else’s. I realized that I was overly connected. I had so many things competing for my attention–social media, current events, etc.–that I had completely lost the ability to be my own barometer. Taking a few minutes to read a book on self-care or clear my head wasn’t working. I had to make a change–quickly.
I decided to take three days off of social media. On Monday, I left a post that I would be taking a few days to focus on my resilience and restoration. I did this not because I wanted to be applauded for it (I wouldn’t be able to see those posts, anyhow), but to be transparent. I wanted others to understand that even though I talk about balance constantly, it is still a struggle for me. I constantly have to reset when life gets tricky. I thought that a few days away from my news feed and the constant trigger to consume information would do me some good.
Although I used the word ‘fast’, there is no reason to be a fanatic about this. If you need to log on briefly to obtain or exchange information, that is okay. The main point of this is to start regaining some of your time back so that you are able to prioritize what is most important.
2. Is your to-do list realistic?
Because I was so used to turning to social media anytime I had a moment to spare, I suddenly found myself with increasing amounts of time to think about other things. One of my dominant thoughts was the realization that my to-do list was never-ending. With a course to prepare, a move on deck, and several administrative tasks (health care, taxes, etc.), there was no way that I could realistically finish the goals I was setting for myself.
I made sure that I was documenting everything I was working on, so that I could be realistic with myself and give myself credit for what I had already done. I started spilling my activities across days: if I didn’t finish a task one day, it simply became a priority for the next. I’ve always been a fan of having no more than 5 “must complete” activities on my to do list, and ideally 2 or 3. It was time to bring that back into practice. Finally, if something was really not getting done, I had to ask myself if I was truly ready to take action or make a decision on it. If it had to be done, who could I ask for help?
3. See the ball coming in slowly (anticipate what you need and be prepared)
At this point, there was no denying that in my quest to get everything done I had actually overworked myself. I knew that I wasn’t taking off the weekends and evenings I intended to months ago–and it was starting to have an effect. In the movie 42, the journalist who follows Jackie Robinson tells him it is important that he anticipates and prepares for the tricky questions reporters will lob at him–using the baseball analogy of seeing the ball come in slowly.
I started thinking about how I could see the ball coming in slowly in different areas of my life. If my entire house had to be cleaned out by Sunday, when would schedule a pick-up to donate the items I couldn’t take with me? When would I take time to go in and clean, once all of the furniture was removed? Also, with my move taking up much of the weekend, how could I get a head start on course prep so that I was still ready to teach on Monday morning?
I opened up my calendar and started with the day I would turn in my keys, and listed what had to be done. Then, I looked at my moving day and did the same, eventually going back to 2, 3, and 4 days before the move. Now that I could see the ball coming in slowly, I had a better idea of what I would need to do in order to be prepared. I also saw where I would have room to take breaks and get my mind off of the move. It was a major relief to have the large donation items picked up 3 days in advance of the move. I felt like I was doing something right!
4. Make time for intensive self-care
It was suggested that I take a moment to get a massage. I found a new massage place, and can’t tell you how elated I was when I was met at the front door with a cup of tea. The owner was very sweet and talked to me while I waited for my massage. I browsed through brochures on Thailand. Once I was taken back to my room, I was given a bucket of hot water with lemon to start relaxing my feet. What followed was one of the most restorative hours I’ve had in a long time.
I have had periods where I had massages regularly to keep shoulder and arm pain in check, but I had fallen off recently. Because it was no longer a priority, it didn’t happen. I am also a huge fan of getting my eyebrows done. I decided to take time the next day to get a pedicure, a facial, and have my eyebrows done. As someone who loves to practice frugality, it would not have occurred to me to spend so much time (or money) on myself. But the truth is, I was able to apply my research skills to get the best price for every service I had done, and ended up finding establishments that pride themselves on cleanliness and good service.
I couldn’t deny at this point that there is something valuable in having a self-care routine. Whether you do it for yourself at home or go somewhere to receive a service, you are telling yourself, “I am worthy of self-care”. When you do that, you start to feel better about yourself! I could see a joy and elation on my face that had been missing.Click To Tweet
5. Create a plan that fits your needs
Moving forward, I do plan to use social media. However, I am more aware of how taking a break can be restorative when I am feeling sensitive and overwhelmed. I will try to limit the time I spend on social media in a given day, and take more frequent breaks (most likely, a few days) so that I can truly focus, hear from myself and address my needs.
I realize that while I can no longer depend on adrenaline to get things done, I can maximize my energy by planning in advance and figuring out the resources I need to get things done in a timely manner. I have benefitted from self-care in the past, but it has always been, at best, a temporary indulgence. I’m finally convinced I need to put the steps in place to make this more of a regular practice in my own life. For me, this means scheduling regular appointments at locations that are convenient (and relaxing) for me.
There is nothing positive or glorious about wearing yourself out. If they give out badges for doing everything while destroying yourself in the process–I don’t want one. In surrendering doing it all, and doing things perfectly, I’m finding my own sweet spot and getting things done.
Remember there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Take time to figure out what this process looks like in your life. What do you need to do to take care of you? What resources will help you get the job done without wearing yourself out in the process?
What helps you get things done, while taking care of yourself?
Image “Coffee And Book” by Sura Nualpradid courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net