It’s been a long day. You’re overtired, undernourished and running late. You walk into the house and you’re confronted with an unsavory scene: the dishwasher has overflowed, the kids’ clothes and snacks are all over the floor and your neighbor left you a nasty note about the dog. Again.
Depending on how full your tank is, you respond in two different ways.
In scenario #1 you started your day with a quiet slice of solitude, did some breathing and yoga, then embarked on the morning calmly and clearly. You have a practice of taking breaks while you work. Your daily routine includes regular self-care activities and your calendar is marked with days designated “me”.
So when you come home tonight, you take a deep breath, register your annoyance and deal with the chaos in your house.
In scenario #2 you were tapped out before you arrived at the door. Your morning was just like all the mornings before it – a mad dash of packing lunches, feeding animals and managing tasks. You can’t remember the last time you took a yoga class or sat quietly or read a novel. You were given a gift certificate to the Korean spa, and hope to get there before it expires. Your weekends are as fully scheduled with family activities as your weeknights are.
When you see the mess in your home, you explode. You can’t imagine how you will find the strength to deal with the aftermath. You want to run away.
Which scenario feels most familiar to you, #1 or #2?
The staying power of self-care.
Self-care is the fuel in your tank that enables you to move from surviving your life, to thriving within it. Your resilience and your creativity are directly impacted by how well you are cared for in the unique ways only you know. As you’ve most likely experienced, a well-nourished woman is capable of so much more than one who is depleted.
You know that in order to function you must have adequate sleep, water, food and shelter. Yet you also have additional self-care needs that nourish and sustain you. You may require solitude or you might crave connection with others. You might need creativity or you may need learning. Perhaps you need to tend to your body or maybe tending to your spirit feels more important.
Self-care is at least as important as tending to your family, your work, and your home. Yet you put yourself last, hoping to “find the time” to turn to yourself when all the rest of it has been done.
The time isn’t out there to be found; it’s your job to claim it. And if you don’t, no one will give it to you.
Taking care of yourself – mind, body and soul – has both an immediate effect and a longer term impact. In the doing of it – whatever “it” is for you --, you feel relaxed, energized, restored, rejuvenated. If only our brains would remind us of this when we’re tempted to put off the me-time yet again!
When self-care is a non-negotiable part of your day/week/month, you are able to face the inevitable challenges and uncertainties of life with greater ease and resourcefulness. You’re able to be present with what is, rather than overwhelmed by it.
Let’s hear from you. How much do you prioritize self-care in your life? What does self-care look like for you? How do you know when your fuel tank is running low?