Lessons in being good to myself
Updated: Apr 14, 2018
I guess it was around 4 years ago that I was first introduced to the idea of being good to myself. It's a simple premise - don't be hard on yourself, take time to do something you want to do, relax and just generally give yourself a break - but it was genuinely one that HAD NOT OCCURRED TO ME.
If my partner at the time was unhappy, it was up to me to fix it. If my children needed anything, at any time of day, it was my job to provide it. If my work needed me to stay late or work harder, I needed to do that. If friends asked something of me, I needed to try and do it. If the house needed cleaning or tidying, it was up to me.
It got to the point that I felt stretched so thin that the smallest thing could break me. And yet, I didn't consider my own wellbeing important.
If this resonates with you at all then consider this: if you are giving so much of yourself that there's not enough to go around, where's the bit of you for you?
Imagine you are a jug of water; if you keep on pouring and giving to others, eventually the jug is going to empty. You have to be kind to yourself, to replenish the jug and get this, you are not being selfish by doing it.
In fact if you think about it, it's the opposite of selfish. After all, how can it be selfish when the very reason we're taking time out of our day for us, is so we can continue to be the best mum/wife/partner/child/friend/colleague/employee that we can?
Clearly I'm not an expert but these are a few of the key things I've found most important so far:
Say no to people. This is a tough one because it's the reason we're in this mess in the first place, however the key to being good to ourselves has to be making sure we give our time wisely and make time for ourselves. Don't get me wrong, trying to remember my time is finite can be really hard when it's people that I love and care for making demands on it, but I'm learning that prioritising myself isn't something that needs excusing or that I should feel guilty about. And once you start doing it, it does get easier.
Imagine you are your best friend. This is a big one for me and I honestly hadn't thought about what I was doing until it was pointed out to me. Basically I'm plagued with negative, self-critical thoughts. About what I do, what I wear, what I say, how I say it, what I don't say, what I think, what I think other people are thinking, what I look like...you get the idea, right? The trick to being good to yourself here is to be objective and consider things as if you were your best friend. If your friend described to you whatever it is you're thinking, what would you say? Would you agree with them and tell them yes actually, they do look fat and ugly today and everyone's noticed? Or that people probably do hate them or they should feel rubbish because they forgot to do something? Or would you cut them a break, tell them they're beautiful and that the world won't end because they didn't have time to do everything on their list that day? No brainer, right?
Find something that you can escape to. For me, music is the thing that can take me away. I love reading and it's what I do when I have time but if I'm feeling really low or if I don't have long then music is it. I go to the kitchen, turn on my 'Good Things' playlist, turn it up loud and in seconds I feel the weight lifting from my chest. I sing, I dance and I don't care one little bit what anyone thinks.
Nurture your body. Ok I'll admit that exercise is not my favourite thing to do. I don't think anyone would be foolish to call me sporty, it just ain't my bag. I do however love to get my walking boots on and go off tromping about the countryside. I imagine that the feeling I get from that is similar to the feeling you weirdo gym bunnies get after a particularly sweaty session...who knows?! Aside from that, every now and then I'll take some time out and go to a spa for a full on relaxation session. It's not cheap and it's not something that there's a lot of time to do often but personally I think it's worth it. I'd love to say that I've learnt to take 20 minutes every day to meditate but I haven't. I'm rubbish at establishing and sticking to routines and consequently lack of sleep and stress will build up. Each time I go to a spa (which is maybe only once a year) I realise how unused to relaxing I am, but going to a place that is only about taking care of yourself can be incredible. Whatever you choose to do, however often, my advice is DO IT. Take the time, forget about anything else, concentrate on your body and physically taking care of yourself and you won't regret it.
So that's my quick and dirty 'being good to myself' list. It's not very comprehensive and it's by no means what I'm able to do all the time - like I've said before, this is a journey for me and not one I'm even halfway through - but I reckon it's a good start.
I'd love to know what you think and how you take care of yourself too so please let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading.