Preventative Self-Care

Each month after I post a blog, I take a few days to clear my mind about it, to clean my mental slate, before beginning to think about the next one. After a few days I start to prepare for the next iteration, so I pay attention to reoccurring themes, lessons I’m learning or growth experiences of those around me that I think may be beneficial to share. And I also have friends who make suggestions “You should blog about that”. This month I vacillated between two topics, so I’ve decided to write about the first one and save the second for a future installment. This decision was confirmed by a text I just received from a family member. In every aspect of her life, work, home, etc. there is some type of urgent crisis (legitimately). How can you attend to so many things at one time? Being pulled in so many directions and responding well in each one? How can you expect to do your best in each situation, when you are at breaking point?
I imagine many of you can relate and have had a similar experience. If you are an educator this scenario is almost assured. I know I’ve felt that way personally many times. (even recently, see my blog from April). Life can be overwhelming, more often than we’d like. However, I’m finding as I mature (that’s the nice way of saying “getting older”) I’m learning to take things in bite size pieces, like I did in March, and consciously pace myself (go SLOW) and build in self-care.
Over the last several weeks, I have had some meaningful conversations around self-care. Obviously, that is something I talk about frequently as it is one of my passions and those around me know that. But I mean really intentionally taking care of yourSELF. Throughout these discussions, I noticed that “reoccurring theme” I watch for. These are people who regularly build in time for self-care; walks, massages, naps, hobbies, fun, time alone and time with friends. They have great practices in place to take time away, for themselves to recuperate, or rejuvenate. These are wonderful and often necessary ways to regroup or revitalize after a time of exhaustion or being depleted or in high demand. For example, going on spring break to a warm location where I could unplug with my family after my personal “March Madness” was exactly what I needed and all part of a healthy self-care plan.
But, what I noticed and am paying extra attention to now, is more about what we could call preventative self-care. It’s thinking about ways to preserve yourself, your energy, your well-being in your day to day life. Is it possible to make choices as we go throughout our day that allow us to maintain some self-care, so we aren’t so depleted when our head hits the pillow at night? Can we establish some boundaries to conserve energy? Or try to be more in tune with what we need as we go throughout our day? I am making it more of a precedence to deliberately think through how I want to spend my time each day. What is the priority for the day? What MUST get done and what can wait? On the surface, it can seem like there are a million “MUST get done today” tasks, but that isn’t necessarily true.
I am very aware that for some of us we may have the luxury to put off some tasks? Or we may not THINK we have that luxury? What I am learning about myself and others is that we are adept at turning molehills into mountains. We can get overwhelmed with the thought of being overwhelmed. I know for me, when I feel stressed any other added tasks quickly and easily compounds my level of anxiety. I find that sometimes I’m my own worst enemy as I inflict upon myself my own personal timeline vs someone else’s. Frequently, people are much more gracious with their expectations of me than I am of myself. I encourage you to adopt that gracious approach for yourSELF. Perhaps if we SLOW down, take a breath and a step back, things aren’t really as daunting as they seem. This is when my mom’s saying comes to mind “Do not borrow tomorrow’s worries today”.
I’m hoping as we continue to tackle our ever-growing list of to do’s (that list never ends, I’ve finally learned to accept) we can keep our thoughts, feelings, needs in the forefront. Intentionally decide what it ok and reasonable for you to do and what someone else can do or if it can wait. I know I do not want to live a harried life and absolutely can’t afford to jet off to a warm location at the end of every month. So, I’m planning to be mindful and aware of choices I make to do some preventative SELF-care. You should too!!