Many of you reading this will agree that carving out some time for self-care is not easy given the daily responsibilities we all have. For some who have children, are caring for an elderly or sick relative, are dealing with a physical or mental health challenge, or simply are trying to process the state of the world affairs, this can be much more difficult. There is no question that for most of us, re-ordering our daily schedule to take a needed break can take some creativity and some dogged determination. In order to live our best life, we often need to be deliberate and pro-active to make time for ourselves. Please do not wait for your supervisor to tell you that you need a break, because by that time, one or more areas of your life are already suffering.
Many of us have learned, and may strongly feel, that at least some of our worth comes from planning, doing and keeping busy. And that may translate to pushing ourselves and going and going all of the time. In some respects, we may be addicted to keeping busy. It is probably true that many of us are avoiding really getting in touch with our thoughts and our feelings and we may overwork as a way to avoid these. Maybe we are trying to prove our worth by achieving in order to outrun feelings of inadequacy. Just “being” may feel uncomfortable or even foreign to us.
At some point, we have often had to learn the hard way that it can be harmful to not take time for ourselves when we need it. Some of the ways we take care of ourselves may take lots of different forms. Maybe we plan our lunches or dinners so that we don’t end up eating a diet of junk food that we will turn to when we are hungry. Maybe we will take a walk around the office or around the block in the sunshine and fresh air. Maybe we will splurge and take time out for a massage or a needed vacation. We may choose to take the time to meditate and pray the first moments after we awaken or sometime during the day. We may get out in nature which can be relaxing, healing and transforming. We may even choose to see a therapist or life coach to help us be supported as we traverse down life’s many different paths. If we don’t take frequent and consistent breaks away from the demands of life, we invite the chance of sailing way off course into an unintended life experience. We might even find ourselves living someone else’s life. Gasp!
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. If we never stop and disengage with our daily routine, we run the risk of our life being run on automatic pilot rather than being run by our passions. By virtue of the fact that we are human beings and not robots, we need to pull back, re-examine and integrate the changes and nuances of our lives. Some may find that self-care is particularly important during times of events that are out of our control, like the tragic world events that are taking place right now.
Although it is true that at times “pushing through” a challenge has its place in our lives. It is equally true that taking a break has an important place in our life as well. As a way of life, however, pushing ourselves without ceasing comes with a huge price tag. When we find ourselves running on empty, perhaps emotionally and/or spiritually, we will simply burn out. The joie de vive isn’t something that should be foreign to us. Joy is our natural state of being. But when we are burned out, passion and joy can feel like unfamiliar abstractions.
We don’t need to get pneumonia, develop high blood pressure, develop migraines or crash and burn in any way to earn a time out. We are all deserving of a time out right now! You deserve unstructured and self nurturing time just because you are a human being. If we take the time to feed and fortify ourselves, perhaps seemingly paradoxically, we will function better in all our required tasks and we will come out ahead. Most of us would probably agree with the adage “Life is a marathon not a sprint” as an unarguable truth.
Be gentle with yourself on your journey. Take the time you need when you need it. Make plans to nurture and support yourself on a regular basis. Many of us have also heard the adage that life is about the journey not about the destination. How is your journey going for you right now?
-Mike Morellino, Penny Lane Centers