This past Monday, one of my Rooted Sisters and I had a discussion about priorities. When you feel like everything needs your attention and you are spinning out of control, where do you start? I’ll spare you the details and the bottle of red wine it took us to get there and jump directly to our conclusion: sometimes you need to start by stopping.
It sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes stopping is the best approach to tackling the mountain of demands that pile up around the house and at the office. Our minds and bodies need a break from the blistering pace we try to maintain as we seek to attain Superwoman status. In the past few years, a lot of research has been published in The New York Times, Scientific American, Health Magazine and others showing that rest and relaxation are key to better productivity (and probably a happier life).
So if we know how important it is, why is it so gosh darn hard to do without feeling guilty??
How do we prioritize self-care in a culture that values achievement, people-pleasing and always being reachable? We have to be intentional.
It’s all about me (time)
I am an extrovert – I have always LOVED being around other people. But I started noticing a shift in my re-energizing needs about two years ago, not long after I became a manager and my husband and I had our second child. All of a sudden I found myself staying in the bathroom two or three minutes longer than I needed to (not just occasionally, but always). I would stand in the shower under the hot water for no reason at all, other than the fact that no one bothered me in there. No one asked me questions, I couldn’t hear my phone buzzing for my attention; I felt like I could take a couple of minutes to regain my sanity. I can only imagine how my introvert working mom friends feel!
After my mom passed away last year, I joined a GriefShare recovery group at my church that met on Tuesday nights. I was never able to complete the homework by Monday night, so I started waking up early on Tuesday mornings to complete my homework. I’d make a cup of coffee, do my homework and pray. And I loved every minute of it! I wake up every morning at 4:45am to have 30 minutes of quiet time with God.
If you’re not a morning person; set aside your “me-time” after everyone goes to bed. My husband and I try to make time for our marriage every night after the kids go to bed, but he is an introvert and a night owl, so sometimes he tells me that he needs some time to himself at night. When we didn’t have kids, that request used to offend me – now I kiss him goodnight and grab a book!
Here are the “me-time” rules:
- No being productive. This is not time to tackle your to-do list, this is time to relax.
- No electronics. Yup, that’s right. Put away the Facebook, Instagram, messaging, email and television.
- Do something you enjoy. Read, bake, listen to music, or dance around in your pjs and slippers!
- There are no other rules. Because let’s face it, the first two are hard enough!
Taking little breaks
Sometimes 30 minutes of “me time” isn’t possible or perhaps the benefit from 30 minutes of “me-time” has worn off at 3:00pm as the emails continue to come in faster than you can respond to them. What do you do when you feel like pulling your hair out? Stop and take a quick break to clear your head and gain some perspective. Go for a walk around your building and stop to smell the tulips, listen to the wind in the trees or just look at the clouds moving across the sky.
The world can spare us for five minutes while we take care of ourselves. In fact, the world might just be better off for it.