Creating Space

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




8 thoughts on “Creating Space

  1. Wow! That spoke to me, it is exactly been my modified goal. My husband and I are creating “space”, we have done a lot of cleaning out, to create a Rheum Relaxxtion Room. In this room, I plane to have, my anti gravity chair, a table for doing jigsaw puzzles, my stereo, with my mediataion tapes, there is also a LARGE window.. That looks out front to the oaks and pond. The room is in progress, and actually, I will be blogging about it in a bit.
    The other way I create space, is I am trying to put the rheum pain in to the background. I do this by taking photos of nature and wildlife. I have a very good frie no with Menieres disease, he is completely deaf, a photog and journalist for AP. he is excellent at giving lessons in photography, and he has found a very willing student. When I focus on the object, I am listening to direction, and the pain goes in to the background. We visit a lot of wildlife rehab and release facilities, he knows my limitations, I know his, the staffs at these places begin to recognize us and we have established friendships there as well. Talking and communicating about a specific wild animals rehab and eventual release, also…puts the pain in the background….. Loved your blog! kim

    1. Kim,

      I appreciate all the ways that you create space. Your examples are such a nice frame for other folks to build their own self-care spaces into. I think you make a great point about the specific discipline of creating space that separates you from the pain, at least a bit. Thank you so much for sharing.


    1. Kathy,

      The small chunks thing seems to be the biggest deal to me right now. I want people to feel as though doing self-care is something that is reach, not some huge unobtainable goal.


  2. Hi Ann, I really love the idea of self-care in small steps because it is really easy for us (and our clients too) to throw in the towel as they say, when the goals are too big. For my myself I am working on giving up the idea that I can attend to multiple projects after the kids go to sleep. I am a working mom with two young children and we are usually up by 5:30am and by 8pm I am tired. Cleaning up the kitchen and prepping for the next day is about what I can manage and then I can relax and get to bed at a decent time. It is hard to let go of the to do list but not being exhausted is my goal 🙂

    1. Allison,

      I think you make an important point about setting goals that honestly reflect where we are in life, instead of where we wish we were. 🙂 Thank you for sharing.


  3. I hope I didn’t overwhelm everyone with my space ideas! To clarify, the relaxation room has taken months to work on, and it is no where near done.

    The wildlife photog also took time, amd frankly, there are days when I can not go. This Friday was example, but, Rick went and shared his photos with me… The next best thing…

    For me, I am very “goal” oriented. RA disease is teaching me to modify my goals, a hard thing for me, being a type A person.

    I am really trying to live by the affirmation of “I have no control over the disease, but, I have control over the way I react to it.” so, today.. I have a parade to attend. My goal was to attend that parade walking, with camera gear and a chair. I modified that goal, I will use the wheelchair, therefore, no walking great distances, and my camera gear will be easily in my lap. And Yes, I did decorate the chair! Happy St Patrick’s Day! Kim

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