For some people, relaxing & renewing comes in the form of a day at the spa, being pampered. I enjoy a good massage, a mani/pedi, etc. just as much as the next gal but the relaxation always feels short-lived – as soon as I’m back in the routine of “real” life, it goes away far too quickly.
After taking on what can be a rather depleting volunteer gig in addition to endeavoring to change some things in my life, I’ve been tasked with focusing more on boundaries and self-care.
These are NOT things that come naturally to me, not by a long shot.
I’m coming to realize that that is in part because I’ve taken on a caretaker role in many of my relationships throughout my life. I’m always the planner, the helper, the clean up crew (literally and figuratively). I’ve always abided by the “rule” that if you make a commitment, you stand by it unless you are literally sick in bed or trapped under something heavy.
This hasn’t always served me well.
In fact, it has led me to a lot of frustration, exhaustion, irritability, and sometimes just downright distress. It’s just not healthy but old patterns are hard to break…yet they can be broken through time, self-awareness, and focus. Lots and lots of it, I’m guessing, because I am still a long way away.
When I was first asked what I do to take care of myself, my honest answer was,”Um, I don’t know. I like to read. Hang out with my pets? Keep my house clean?” I truly and honestly didn’t have a clue. And I’m pretty sure many of you are in the same boat. We keep on keeping on, doing what needs to be done, and flop down in front of the tv or fall into bed exhausted at the end of a long list of to dos for the day. We make cupcakes for the bake sale, we stuff goodie bags for the party, we serve in the nursery on Sunday morning, we remember to check on a friend who had a doctor’s appointment, we take the cat to the vet. All good things. Yet what in that list is for us? What helps us relax and renew? What helps keep us firmly planted and engaged in life with those we love instead of teetering on the edge?
It’s more than just healthy eating and exercise. It’s taking time for yourself when you need it. Even if it is five minutes to breathe and regroup. Or pray. Or stretch, take a walk, move yourself physically out of the space and state in which you’ve found yourself. Or to create in whatever way best suits you – cooking, writing, crafting, experimenting, coloring.
But sometimes all you can do is simply be still and observe the beauty in the world around you. Even in the midst of a terribly stressful day, you can find one thing of beauty, one positive thought to take with you. I try to surround myself with such things, especially at work where stress reigns supreme. Here’s a glimpse around my office: