I have noticed that I am in a tool-sharing mood with the blog recently. Last week, I wrote about how important it is for caregivers (and the rest of us) to assess and meet their own needs so that they have the ability to continue supporting others. I have also been writing about some of my favorite “self-care 101″ tools, such as breathing, and choosing one small activity that moves you toward a goal. This week is another about another tool that has been on my mind (and in my sessions) recently.
Today I want to talk about creating the space for your self-care. I think that self-care is a phrase that makes many people cringe because it seems to carry overtones of big expectations. For example: if you’re not exercising 30 minutes a day, and eating three healthy meals, and meditating and pursuing your passions–then you’re not doing good self-care. No wonder people feel overwhelmed by that. If you work and have children or care for a family member, you’re lucky to get five minutes to yourself, let alone enough time to complete that kind of self-care regimen.
So let’s start by getting rid of that expectation. If you think that you need to spend two hours a day on good self-care, it’s pretty easy to feel like you’re failing right out of the gate. And it can’t be good for you to constantly be feeling like a failure. When I talked about the needs assessment last week, I wanted you to look at what you really need. That could be sleep, it could be exercise, it could be time outside, it could be time alone–the possibilities are endless. Once you know what you need, then you have a framework to build from. If you’re working from your fundamental needs, it doesn’t take a lot to begin to succeed.
When you know what you need, then you can begin to get active about creating space for it. Here’s an example. I am an introvert who has a job and a family. What recharges me the most is time alone. Time alone is a rare commodity, so I have gotten creative about seeking it out. If I’m at the park with kids and another adult, I will take ten minutes and just walk by myself. That’s not enough time that the other adult feels imposed upon, but it’s enough space that I get my “alone needs” met. Self-care can be that simple. Just tiny spaces that are mindfully reclaimed from the other demands in your life.
So, your challenge for this week is to look for a space that you can reclaim for one of your needs. Maybe you’ll go to bed ten minutes early to get some extra sleep. Maybe you’ll get yourself out of the house to enjoy the oddly mild weather (if you’re in the Midwest). Maybe you’ll skip a chore to spend sometime with a book you’ve been waiting to read. You don’t have to spend more than five to ten minutes doing this, but you can spend as much time as you create space for. Be creative, be compassionate, and mostly, be active. Don’t let your fear of not doing “enough” prevent you from doing something.
Image Credit: Photo by juliejordanscott via Flickr