Okay…here’s a question. When is the last time someone said goodbye to you with a “Take care!”. Now here’s an even better one – when is the last time you did take care? Not care of your partner or husband, not your kids, your aunt Matilda or your co-worker, but yourself. And what does taking care of yourself look like to you?
If you have no clue how to answer that question, then it’s something you really should spend some time with. For many of us, taking care of ourselves just isn’t the priority. We enjoy being nurturers. Women especially are raised to take care of things and people. Yes, there are certainly exceptions, but I believe it’s all but programmed in our DNA. The issue of course is that unlike the days of Ozzie and Harriet, we are now bringing home the bacon, frying it up in the pan, taking care of our kids, our aging parents and trying to keep up with our household chores. So where does that leave time for your ‘self’care? Good question!
You can start by paying attention to your body. There are major clues there as to how you’re doing in taking care of yourself. What’s going on in your shoulders or your back – are they tight or tense, what about your stomach – always in a knot? Have you taken time to eat or have you ignored your body and kept driving it ever forward? You could start small. You could get up from your desk and stretch several times during the day. If you can’t do it at your desk (either because you’ll knock someone or something over), then go into the ladies room – even just walk around and roll your shoulders. If you have a calendar, put “stretch” as an appointment mid-morning and mid-afternoon and make it as much a priority as going to the copy machine.
Want another small step? If you’re feeling overwhelmed with tasks, write down what you do during your day and pick ONE (or better yet two!) things you can ask for help with. Yes, ask for help – that’s a whole other topic isn’t it? Again, the goal here is doing something that helps unburden you – even a little bit. Self-care is just that. It’s not expecting someone to stop you in your tracks, ask you to sit down and give you a cup of hot chocolate; it’s looking after yourself. Acknowledging that you’re not a machine and can’t go on indefinitely at a unrealistic life pace is key. Acknowledge it and think creatively around how to care for yourself. The last thing you want is to be faced with is a major stress-induced illness and wish you’d paid attention to your stress level earlier. Here’s your reminder…pay attention, please. You’re worth it!
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. – Buddha