Whenever I approach something new, I have to ask myself if there is time in my life for it. My time is precious, and I need to know if this is something to make me a better person, or if it will take away from me.
That’s how I used to approach self-care. As a caregiver in many roles of life, I was great at providing for others, but not so great at taking care of myself. I often felt like I had to ask for permission to take a bath. It was hard for me to step out of the role for even that amount of time. The problem is, I would become worn out. I was crabby with my kids, felt disconnected from my spouse, and would show up to work with a bad attitude. Meanwhile, I still had laundry, groceries, house cleaning, and a plethora of other things I didn’t have “time” for.
When I started to incorporate physical activity into my daily life, I was seeking a balance. I felt compelled to work out for 60 minutes a day. I’m not sure why, but I felt if I didn’t reach that special number, then whatever I did wasn’t good enough. I felt guilty asking for 60 minutes to better myself. I was taking that time away from my family, from tasks I needed to do. I look back now and see that the time I took was time to help me clear my head, sort through problems and situations, reconnect with my own body, mind and spirit. It is how I also figured out how lost I truly was.
Self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity. We are only given one body and one life. If you don’t take care of it, who else will? Believe me, I am the queen of knowing just how many other things are important in every day life. As much as it feels great to have laundry folded and put away, clean toilets, and beds that are made, the world won’t stop spinning. There will be more laundry to do tomorrow. And those toilets, please… are they ever clean enough?
Have you heard that story about the college professor and a mason jar? To paraphrase it quickly, he took turns filling the jar with items. First, he put in as many golf balls as he could. Then he added small rocks, pebbles. When he could add no more of those, he added sand. And he finished with 2 cups of coffee. The golf balls represent the big important things in your life: family, friends, etc. The pebbles represent the day to day things you need to do: go to work, chores, pay bills. The sand is all of the other stuff that can get in the way. If you fill your jar with sand first, you won’t have room for the real important things in your life. And the coffee, well, there is always room for a good cup of coffee with a good friend.
Heed this story if you think you don’t have time for you. You are just as important as the rest of those you hold near and dear. If you aren’t looking out for yourself, who else will? Be present in your body, listen to what it is trying to tell you. You don’t need 60 minutes a day. Maybe you need 15 of quiet meditation and reflection. But listen. Time is there if you are willing to make it.