At 1:47 pm on Sunday I was finally able to start my to-do list of work things that I had planned on accomplishing before the end of the weekend. What happened? Rest! I actually rested. I did a super hard work out on Saturday and came home and did everything I could that was not work --- no cooking, dishes, cleaning, just rest, and cuddles and snugs, and early to bed. I still battled the guilt of things that needed to get done or did not get done, but guess what? The house didn't fall in, the world didn't end, and my body is thanking me for allowing it some time to just be.
Why do we have to negotiate rest to ourselves when our body is screaming that that is what it needs most? Our society has taught us to hustle, to do, to be productive, to always climb and achieve, but at what cost?
This has been the hardest form of self-care for me to practice, and I am truly transparent about that. With a long to do list -- and feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities, rest means that things that need to get done will not, and then it will build up and get out of control. When the things not done start to build up, it causes me anxiety, crippling anxiety, and then I shut down. I have been trying to find the balance between doing, resting and also saying f* it to some things.
But I want you to know, that I give you permission to rest, even if you won't give it to yourself. You need rest for your body, your mental and emotional health, and just to allow yourself to heal. Our bodies are magnificent machines, but like any machine, sometimes it needs oiled, or turned off to rest in order to let it function and optimal levels.
If taking a whole day for rest seems to hard, let's start with some baby steps first.
1. Go to bed when needed
- This was one of the hardest things for me to do. As a new mom, I would use nap time or bedtime as an opportunity to see how much I could accomplish before the baby woke up. I wore myself OUT! Trying to fit in a whole day or work and emails during a one-hour nap did more damage to me, then help. Finally, my son who is 4 years old I am learning to go to bed when he goes to bed. I do not need to fit in a workout (even though sometimes I do), and extra work, or cleaning or anything else. If he is resting, then I am going to rest. He still has a pretty wonky sleep schedule and often wakes up at 3:30 or 5:30 a ready for the day. If I stay up until 1 a trying to do all the things that need to get done, and then wake up with him, that means I am running on fumes, and the whole day will be miserable for all of us. Start off easy --- choose one or two nights a week that you can go to bed a little earlier than your normal schedule. Put your phone away, take melatonin if you need it, and enjoy a moment of peace before sleep. Your body will greatly thank you the next day.
2. Take a work "Brain-Break"
- Is your workday like mine? You start at 9 am with meetings and work and go all the way until school pick up or whenever you are needed? I found I was trying to fit to many meetings, to many projects into a small frame and nothing was getting done well. One of the things I do do that makes a huge difference in my week is that I completely block out the noon hour for myself. Sometimes I take it for lunch, sometimes to catch up on work, other times, just to close the computer, and reset my brain. Staring at a computer all day is really hard on your eyes and your brain, so taking a short break (you can do 5 minutes or more) is vital for your brain to be able to work at its best level. Work is over and you are still thinking about work? Have you tried an end of work shut down routine? This pays off in dividends!
3. Nourish your body
- Eat! No excuses of too busy, or on a diet, or running around. Nourishing your body is no one else's job but yours, so you have to make sure that this is one of your top priorities. I have been really bad with this, often grabbing crackers, or something quick out of the fridge when I feel like I may pass out, and guess what? It made me feel like shit all day. Why was I sabotaging myself by not eating? It had nothing to do with a diet, or wanting to lose weight, but with everything tied to not prioritizing my needs. To make sure I nourish myself I buy items that are quick and easy to cook, healthy snacks, or protein bars in case I am on the run, and also use my Habit app to remind me to eat breakfast (I am so bad at that!). Now that my body is being nourished better, I find that I am not melting down, cranky, or exhausted as frequently because I gave myself what I needed, healthy, yummy food.
4. Have a self-care afternoon or evening
- Six years after leaving corporate American I am finally scheduling time out for me during the work week. Seems counter intuitive right? Why would I take time out of the work week to not do things when I have so much work to do? Because I am a mom, and weekends still require me to be fully present and on the go with my toddler. I have made Thursdays my no people day. I do not take clients, and I do not take in person meetings unless I chose so. Thursdays give me the opportunity to plan what I need for that week to catch up on. It could be work, it could be sleep, it could be errands, and chores, or it could be rest. I find my Thursdays are immensely productive because I am not being pulled into meetings and/or having to start and stop projects to take a meeting. For me, I finally found a way to hack my brain/schedule and productivity. Maybe your self-care afternoon or evening is a spa day, or a trip to buy yourself something. Maybe a nap or a bubble bath, or the gym? Or maybe it's none of those things because self-care is different for every single person.
I hope you use this Sunday for rest. I hope you use this day for evaluation and setting goals and planning for the week. Most of all, i hope that you give yourself permission to practice self-care. Your wellbeing is no one else's job but yours, so, be selfish with your self-care.