Written by Tara Dudley, Howe Sound Women’s Centre Volunteer
We’ve all been there. At the end of a long day, you treat yourself to a relaxing evening and late night romantic comedy. Or at 6am when your alarm goes off and you bury yourself between the covers after hitting the snooze button… just… one… more… time. We tell ourselves that this is taking a break, that those few stolen moments means we are taking care of ourselves, able to have a bit of control over our crazy lives. Yet, as hard as we try, we still end up feeling tired, overwhelmed, cranky, and generally worse than when we started.
Self-care is probably one of the biggest challenges of our day. As women, we often put others before ourselves, whether it’s our children, our bosses, our family, or our friends. There’s always someone who needs us, and it’s so easy to just say yes to that extra hour of work, that late-night phone call from a friend, the little one who needs help with homework. And then we try to respond by reclaiming our lives in some small, meaningful way.
On Mother’s Day, I challenge you to take time to care for yourself. Even if you are not a mom, I’ll bet you could really use a break. Here are some suggestions to do just that, all in under 30 minutes:
1. Make yourself a cup of tea and find yourself a comfy corner by the window, or better yet, enjoy it outside. The tea will help you relax, while being connected to the outdoors can help clear your mind, focus your energy, and stand as a reminder that the world will survive without you for a few minutes. (Time: 5 minutes)
2. Practice a sun salutation. This simple series of yoga postures can help relieve stress, loosen your body, and give you a better awareness of your body’s needs. Try to do 3 sun salutations to get the full benefits from the poses. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuvfHTaftLQ (Time: 10 minutes)
3. Spend time writing down the things in your life that make you happy. Taking the time to reflect on your life is an important meditation, which can fill you with gratitude, and allow you to focus on the good in your life, rather than its imperfections. To take this to the next level, every time something good happens, write it down and put it in a gratitude jar. When you are having a bad day, read the notes in your jar for a boost and a reminder of how lucky you are. (Time: 15 minutes)
4. Give yourself a feel-good session. Do your nails, spend time on your hair, wear your best outfit, do whatever you need to make yourself feel good on the outside. Making yourself look good on the outside can remind you how amazing you are on the inside and can give you the confidence and optimism to get through a hard day. (Time: 25 minutes).
5. Have a detoxifying bath with Epsom salts. This can help relieve strained muscles, detoxify your skin, and rejuvenate your body. Allowing yourself the time to have a bath will feel luxurious, and give you the space to breathe. Use some candles, have a glass of wine, and give yourself the time to read that book you’ve been meaning to start, or just relax with your own thoughts. (Time: 30 minutes)
A very wise woman recently helped me through a rough patch by giving me permission to take time for myself; so that’s what I’m going to do for you. I give you permission to do the radical act of self-care.
When you’re trying to take care of yourself, and all the things you should be dealing with start racing through your head, remember that permission, and allow yourself to take that time. Ultimately, self-care is not a selfish act. Through taking time for yourself, you can better care for others. Through taking time for yourself, you can bring all your light, your beauty, and your passion to the world. Through taking time for yourself, you can be everything you need to be.
I know what you’re thinking. But this is not the time to bookmark this blog post and promise yourself to look at it another day. This is not the time to forge ahead without giving yourself a break. This is not the time to feel guilty or sad that you have not been taking care of yourself. Like you, I am guilty of not practicing self-care. Like you, I’ve seen articles like this and I’ve squirreled them away for another day. Like you, I’ve thought about this long and deep and not changed a thing. But, I also know that is not okay. So I’m going to reinforce that you have my permission to take a break. I challenge you to do one of the self-care suggestions laid out in this blog and share with a friend about how you cared about yourself today. And give her permission to do the same.