:It is the new year and everybody writes about New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not. Well, only to a certain degree. I would assume we know all about New Year's resolutions by now and how easily they fail. That is why I won’t bother with them.
What I am very bothered about though are the questions and topics my friends struggle with when it comes to self-care. And one of those topics is how to carve out time for yourself to indulge in proper self-care.
Now I am not an expert when it comes to that. My solution was a radical one: I gave up my job and now my days are filled with self-care. I don't advice to do this though. You might experience financial problems and be disgraced by family and society.
I pondered the question though and remembered how it was when I worked. Won't bore you with the stories of my failures even though that might just be my still negative thinking about myself. Once I got over that the first thing that popped into my head was “Learning to say NO!”...
Yes, I know: Nothing new there you will think and I have to admit I rolled my eyes too. I struggle with this topic all of my life being a survivor of sexual abuse but surely there must be a way to get over that? There are women out there who managed quite well, so why shouldn’t we?
So, I took the dog for a walk because I already felt stuck. Walking is a great way to clear up your mind and come up with ideas and solutions. Not only Julia Cameron is a promoter for walking but so was one of my old therapists. She said there is something that sorts out your brain when you set one foot in front of the other.
It was a cold winter day, the North Norfolk coast blew a harsh breeze in my face and I saw just a little sun in between dark clouds. “Great!” I thought and picked up some dog poo. But as I walked on I thought that maybe I try to solve that problem from the wrong end.
Because there must be a reason why I reacted to my experiences with not being able to say no. There are people out there who took the opposite decision and say no continuously. Yes, its as unhealthy but the decisions you take when reacting towards your life’s challenges are not the only decisions one can take. There are others.
So I figured I need to find out why I took that decision and not another. Sound therapy stuff, doesn’t it and it probably is. But my experience is that I made the biggest changes in my life when I took my own conclusions without anyone around. After all, it’s my life and no matter how bad a start I had or how crap the people around me act it’s my responsibility to do something about it.
I believe the first step we need to take is to accept the fact that we need some time for ourselves and that we deserve it. And if that sentence makes you feel uncomfortable like it does me take a look why it does that.
Pick up a piece of paper and write down:
“I need some time for myself and I deserve it.”
Then listen to yourself and catch the thoughts and feelings that come up for you. For me, it was: “But I want to help others and my family needs me!” Yea great! I am the super duper woman who saves everybody else but myself. It’s a no-brainer to know that you can’t help anyone else if you work yourself to the ground. But knowing that and changing your feeling about that are two different cups of tea.
My trusted way of changing this sort of thinking is to use positive affirmations. In this case, I use “I deserve me time!” This process is a strange one because I do not believe anyone knows exactly how it works but my experience is it does and not always in the forms I expected.
If you repeat to yourself that you deserve something you will eventually believe it. You basically brainwash yourself to believe in the right of having time for yourself. And if you believe you have the right to do something you will do it. Again a no-brainer. But don’t be fooled. This is not a short-term and fast solution.
It needs time for your soul and brain to adapt to a new way of thinking and in between, there might be some rough patches because life has a way of testing if you really want to change yourself.
So you start using the positive affirmation and what happens? Your mother gets ill, your boss wants you to work overtime because of an emergency, your creative project breaks down and needs mending and your partner starts acting like a child. And I think that is the point where we usually lose the plot and the determination to really change.
The automatic thought is: “I can’t take time out for myself because I have too much to do!” You start doubting your right to have time for yourself because those you love and pay for your daily bread need help. And there it goes… Again no fast and easy solution here but for me, it has helped to think that these sort of catastrophes are just a test and not the confirmation that I can’t take time out for myself.
I think: “Ok life, I know you are testing me but I still believe I have the right to have some time off. And I will make some time somehow. It must work!” Well, not exactly like that of course but along those lines. The thing is to stick with it. To keep writing down your positive affirmation every single day no matter how stupid and unrealistic it feels.
And slowly you will experience a change. You will see that when your boss calls you for more work and other emergencies happen you sit down first with a cup of tea and breathe. Maybe you make a plan on how to make things happen and when you are properly rested to get up and get it done. And believe you me you can do it? You can care for yourself and for others. And you can find your personal way of taking out time for yourself.
I wish I could offer you an easy system or solution on what to carve out time for yourself but I have come to believe that we need to find our personal solutions and they start with the way you think about yourself. We are all individuals and we have the right to develop our own solutions and if you are serious about your self-care you will find a way to do so. I believe in you!
And while this is the underlying change I believe you have to go through to carve out more time for yourself there are a lot of practical tips too on how to do it. Please check out these tips for more input:
video source: Megha Metha via YouTube
In this sense:
Happy New Year and Happy SelfCaring
I am not a health professional. My posts describe my thoughts, my experiences and my conclusions about life, mental health and self-improvement. My described actions always go alongside therapy and do not substitute professional advice by a health professional be it a doctor, therapist or counsellor.
I invite you to try out self-care tools, however, if any of these make you feel uncomfortable please stop and do not go further ahead. Also, if any of the tools suggested bring up issues that need dealing with do not hesitate to reach out for professional help. To recognise when you need to stop and when to reach out for professional or any other help is one important part to learn when it comes to self-care.
Please look here if you need further guidance:
Government of Canada