Two little words that have us cringing in our boots.
As part of a Naturopathic Consultation I always ask, ‘what you do for yourself?’ The answer is usually somewhere along the lines of, ‘I try to walk a couple of times a week,’ or, ‘there’s a class I’ve been aiming to get to,’ or the very honest reply, ‘I don’t do anything.’
Generally we’re too busy with work, family, pets and life in general to notice that we’re not doing anything that nurtures us.
My mum tells the story of a lady she knew who had something like 12 children. Every morning this lady would get up early, open the front door, go and stand on the front verandah, look and the sky, take a few deep breaths and then go inside and get into her day. She told mum that she used to think that she’d taken a minute for herself and that she was then happy to spend the day keeping the family alive and functioning!
I can’t remember this lady’s name, but I have often thought of her and felt that if she could fit a daily practice into her life, no matter how small, then I don’t really have any excuses.
Self care has been on my mind lately. As my kids are growing up, there’s a little more space in my life that I could use for myself… something that I’ve completely forgotten about with little kids that can absorb your every single second.
So I made a commitment to myself to sort this out. I booked a massage.
Massage is something I often tell people to get regularly… and yet I actually couldn’t tell you when my last one was! So I booked in with a beautiful friend of mine and I was really looking forward to it.
My first mistake was that I booked it in the school holidays. My second mistake was taking the children. My third mistake was that I only allowed 45 mins for the kids to get shoes on and get in the car and my final mistake was not checking the battery on my phone.
You can guess where this is going. Finally, the kids were in the car, I reversed out of the garage, I stopped to pop the Glenfield address in my phone in maps without looking at the destination… and off I drove.
Halfway there my phone died.
I had absolutely no idea where my friend lived. I drove around Glenfield for a bit looking for some kind of flashing beacon to jump out at me, which amazingly didn’t happen, and then I drove home and made a cup of tea.
Not to be put off, I had made a commitment to myself that in addition to my massage, I was going to gently recommit to a daily ashtanga yoga practice over the school holidays while I wasn’t running around of a morning trying to find uniforms and make lunches. Fingers crossed that I can then keep this up when school goes back…
My ashtanga practice has slowly moved from completely dedicated, to sporadic, to non-existent! Well, not quite, but it does feel like that.
I’ve kept this up even though it’s a little different to how it was before children. Some mornings it’s a kid friendly practice and the kids join in, some mornings I practice along with you tube (which the kids love!) and some mornings I’m kicking Peppa Pig toys and Minecraft books out of the way to find some space to unroll my mat. I had to laugh yesterday when I made the effort to put some essential oils in the diffuser in the living area, and then ended up doing my practice in my bedroom! Ah well.
I feel that no matter how ‘healthy’ we are, we need some kind of self care practice for wellness. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it nurtures you and it happens regularly so you have it to look forward to. It could be walking, running, having a Friday night bath, a yoga practice, a church group or a veggie garden. It can be a couple of breaths on your front verandah or a couple of days in a retreat! It can even be the smoothie you make yourself when you get home from work.
It does matter that you can acknowledge that you do this thing for yourself. We all need to know that we are important enough and value ourselves enough, to have something that we do just for ourselves.
Talk to your family, partner, friends about it and ask them to help you commit to doing something for yourself. I’m sure that not only would they love to help, but it will trigger them into doing the same for themselves.
Self care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. It’s not time that you’ve taken up that could be used for something else… it’s absolutely essential for our physical and mental health. Without our health we really don’t have that much.
And next time I ask you’ll be able to reply with, ‘Self care? Sure. Here’s what I do…’