If you are anything like me (busy and always saying YES), it might seem like self care is on the bottom of the list, that’s if it actually makes the list, right?! I am so guilty of burning the candle at both ends and feeling guilty for sitting still.
I have always seen self care as a luxury, until a switch flipped in my brain last year. I remember having a massage from a friend who is a remedial therapist. I was exhausted, had the flu the week before and everything was sore. My neck was super tight from the stress of trying to get everything done before we went overseas and I just felt like I was running on empty. If I have noticed anything about myself in life, it's that things seem to happen in recurrent cycles. I will overcommit myself and go crazy trying to get it all done, stop going to the gym, feel super stressed and then end up with an injured neck or back or even sick. I am then forced by my body to stop. For some reason prior to my self care revelation, all the burners in my life seemed to be simmering hot at once!
I remember reading a paragraph in the book “Winging It” by Emma Isaacs. It talks about how your life is like a stove top, and the burners are the different areas of your life. One burner is your career or business, the other your social life, another your family and the fourth your health. Although as much as people like to say you can have it and do it all, sometimes it just isn’t humanly possible; one or some of the burners have to be turned down so you can have the time (and energy) to commit to smashing it in the other area. For example, a little sacrifice in one area can lead to gains in another. So, in order to keep your business booming you may need to turn down some extra time with your family, a girls dinner night or that extra yoga class. As much as this analogy doesn’t sell the dream of having it all, it is indeed realistic, as there are only so many hours in the day. I don’t see this as necessarily always sacrificing one for the other, but more about if you want to turn another burner up, you need to turn one down, or get more help in certain areas, but ultimately some things have to change.
The week prior to walking in to get that massage, all my burners had been running excessively high and the pots were definitely spilling over. My body decided that I needed to stop, I came down with a flu that kept me in bed for 5 days. The body has a weird way of making you stop when you fail to listen to its signals.
I had such an amazing massage that day and felt so rejuvenated walking out. As I was leaving, my beautiful friend said “you know you should come more regularly”. It’s true, it is much easier to maintain a constant state than it is to fix a broken one. I mentioned to her that I was so busy I wasn’t sure when I could find the time and what she said will stick with me, “by doing this, everything else will be better”. She was right. A relaxed me makes for a better Mum and wife, more patient, less stressed and less cranky. Relaxed enough to get a full night’s sleep, not toss and turn thinking about my to do list for hours. Sleeping well also allows me to bounce out of bed in the morning instead of sleeping in. More hours in the morning allow me to get ahead of the day and get on top of that to do list. What an amazing flow on affect! My self care switch had been flipped.
From that day on I reframed how I looked at having a massage or taking some time for me. It's not a lavish treat, it is actually essential to my health. Just like working out or going to the dentist, it is as equally as important and should be something that is scheduled, because everything else will be better. So, if you are a little bit like me and want to flip that self care switch, here are some of the things I have implemented to get better at it. No, I am not perfect and my body still nudges me in the right direction from time to time (I am currently writing this with a heat pack on my stiff neck) but small steps added up equal big change.
Here are my top tips on getting a little more self care in your life.
- SCHEDULE IT
We schedule everything else in life in our diaries or smartphone calendars, right? So why not self care appointments? Better yet, why not book a recurring appointment for a massage, float or facial. What a pleasant surprise for the future you when that reminder pops up!
- SET A DAY
Why not turn it into a fun habit and set a specific day of the week or month so you won't forget. My faves: Mask or Massage Monday, Walk Wednesday or Selfcare Sunday.
- GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY BUDDY
Get your partner or friends on board to ensure you follow through on your promise. Book time to do something with them i.e. a couple’s massage, hike, dinner, cocktails! Whatever takes your fancy.
- BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Not every month will be perfect. I still have some bad months. Sure, funds might be a bit restrictive one month or Covid restrictions are preventing you doing the things you really desire. Remember, self care doesn’t have to be lavish or even cost a cent! Instead focus on the little things that fill up your cup. Why not have some quiet time barefoot on the grass with a book and coffee, run the bath and play your favourite music, spend an hour talking to your favourite people, lie under a tree in the park, or even take a break from social media for a weekend! The options are endless.
- SHARE IT
Last but not least, let's encourage others in our Real Active community to do the same. We’d love you to share what self care activities you are getting up to. Let’s inspire others to make self care changes too. Be sure to tag us, showing what you are doing so we can share the love.