Have you ever watched a hamster running on a wheel? He just runs and runs, but eventually he gets tired and hops off for a rest. I feel sometimes that in our culture of busyness, we are like those hamsters, vision focused forward to what is coming, blinded to what is going on around us. Only, when we get tired, we don't get off the wheel; we keep going until we are exhausted and our brains are bogged down in a deep fog. Over time, this wears us down and the fog becomes a part of our existence that we don't question. It is what it is, right?
I began my journey to wellness five years ago at a time when I was in a deep, deep fog and feeling utterly disconnected from everyone around me and, especially, from myself. As a mother of two young boys, a partner, a teacher, a coach, a facilitator, and a perfectionist, my "To Do List" was never-ending. Somewhere at the bottom of the list was "Take care of me" but I never got there. Things have changed so much since then and, over time, I've become much better at putting myself first. I'd like to share some of the things I've learned that have helped me to get here.
We don't take breaks. We push through because there is just so much to do, and we believe we don't have the time. We eat at our desks. We push ourselves until we are so exhausted there is nothing left over for friends, for family, for ourselves.
- Take a 10-minute tea-break mid-morning. Go away from your desk. Find a quiet space alone, preferably with some natural light. Bring a book or a magazine, for pleasure. Sip and allow your brain to unplug.
- Take your lunch away from your desk. Spend time with colleagues talking about anything but work. Or find a quiet place with natural light, and spend some time alone. Breathe. Allow yourself to just be.
- Take the time throughout your week to be alone with yourself, and mindfully choose to do something that brings you joy and that is creative and/or meaningful for YOU. You might need to reflect a bit on what this would be.
- Spend some time alone to get in touch with yourself and discover what is important to you. What brings you joy? What makes you feel creative? What reboots your brain and recharges your battery? If you had to backwards plan from the end of your life, what goals are non-negotiable and must be met? Narrow this down to 3 - 5 things.
- Take the schedule of your week and put in these important things that you've identified. Be realistic and make sure the goals you've set are reasonable for where you are right now in your life. For example, my biggest non-negotiable is that I want to be physically healthy and strong. So my minimum goal is Hot Yoga every Friday night + 2 visits to the gym each week. If I can fit in more, I do so. (By the way, it doesn't always happen.)
- Share your goals with your partner or a friend. Make a commitment to yourself and do your best to stay with it. Forgive yourself when it doesn't happen and know that this is a long process and that the journey is a life-long one.
I feel that in our culture, taking care of ourselves first feels selfish. Doing things that bring us pleasure but that don't add to our career can feel somehow frivolous. We feel guilty when we are not being "productive" enough and we are harder on ourselves than anyone could ever be on us. What we need to remember is that, by taking care of ourselves first, we become happier, calmer, more understanding versions of ourselves and thus, better parents, partners, teachers, colleagues and friends.
Get off the wheel. Look around. Connect with others. Connect with yourself. Find quiet time, quiet places, sunlight. Reach out, because we are all in this together.
Take Care of Yourself,
#cohort21 #wellness #time #life balance