Most of us would agree that it can be a good idea when you’re busy, when you’ve a lot on your plate, to take a little time out to take stock of things. To make a plan so the priorities get done, while the less important stuff gets put aside until you’ve more time, more energy, or they either cease to be important or become a priority themselves.
But what about using some of that time to take stock of ourselves? How often do we do that? When you’re someone who cares how others feel, you probably don’t do this enough. Worse, when you’re a people pleaser, you definitely don’t do this enough - or ever. If you were to sit down and fill cardboard boxes up as in our image above, which would be the bigger box?
Even as a massive advocate for self-care, I still need reminding. I recently joined a small group of women, each with a specific professional goal, on a 6-month project to achieve that goal. As each of us works alone, we know we would benefit from outside support, encouragement and constructive feedback (if this is something you'd like to try, take a look at How Does She Do It Life). After our first monthly get together, we were each set some homework specific to achieving our goals. Whilst we we were reminded of that homework before the second, we were also asked to prepare for sharing three things :
Now I could answer the first with the greatest of ease - the past three months had been challenging, and life was continuing to give in the most frustrating of ways. The second was a little more tricky, but I managed to find something to fit the criteria. But the third - that stumped me. I was literally brought up short and couldn’t come up with one single thing. And I was shocked. What sort of a coach was I, what kind of self-care advocate could I be if I wasn’t following my own excellent advice?
While I was pondering how to ensure this didn’t happen again, I spotted a post on Facebook which provided me with an answer. A busy lady spoke of taking half an hour between tasks to sit down with a cup of tea and a notebook to check out what she called “Project Me”. In her notebook, she asked herself 3 questions :
What’s flowing, what’s working?
What’s feeling heavy, out of balance?
What support do I need?
Sitting there with her cup of tea, she answered those questions, ending with a number of actions and a list of items which would provide some of that needed support.
Like many of you, I’d been so convinced that when X or Y or Z got better, or stopped happening, I’d be right back to my old self, firing on all cylinders and able to cope with life’s challenges rather than being bowed by them. So convinced, that I’d made absolutely no time to stop and think, except to plan what needed to be handled next. No time to consider what I could do to help myself. But life cannot be relied upon to stop chucking challenges our way, nor does the treadmill stop moving, so it’s up to us to step off that treadmill and to do what we need, to be able to keep on keeping on.
Everyone talks about the power of morning routines for setting ourselves up for a great day. But the purpose of that routine is generally to ensure we achieve things, to get stuff ticked off on our to-do lists, it doesn’t tend to be about checking that we’re fit and well enough to do so - and maybe it would be a good idea if it did.
My suggestion is that we should all make time for a self-care routine. It doesn’t need to be part of your morning routine, but weekly or monthly needn’t be burdensome, even to the most busy of us. Why not give it a try? As part of your planning ahead, you need take no more than half-an-hour to check in with how you are and with what you need. Go, give it a try - I am.
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