Self-care is so critical to mental and physical health that I would recommend that we place it at the top of our priority list. This is most important when we are feeling exhausted mentally or physically. It is so easy to just keep going in our regular routines without looking at how we are really feeling about our lives, our health, and our current relationships. But sooner or later, unless we start really freeing up our time to nurture ourselves, we find that we begin to resent our families, our friends, our work and our once enjoyable commitments, for taking up all our time. The unfortunate result of this is frustration, fatigue, self-loathing, and a lack of overall enjoyment in our lives.
The remedy to feeling this way is to realise that we are the masters of our own actions, our bodies, and our schedules, and to free up some time for self-nurture.
Redefine Your Time
Do you feel that others dictate how you spend your time? Do you truly believe that your time is, well, exactly that? Your time? What is your belief about time? Does time feel out of your control? Here is what you need to do to begin to take back control of YOUR TIME.
Get a piece of paper and make three categories across the top:
LIKE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DISLIKE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . AMBIVALENT ABOUT
Think of a typical week in your life. Under the appropriate category, list all the activities you did during this week and place them under each of the headings.
Examine the activities you listed under Dislike. Go down the list and ask yourself, ‘Must I do this? And if I must, how can I change this to make it more satisfying or agreeable?’
Realise it is impossible to get rid of all the ‘disliked’ items on your list, but do eliminate or transform as many as you can. Be creative. Brainstorm about how to rid yourself of these activities. Set a timer for ten minutes and list every idea you can think of. Try to keep your hand moving. Repeat items if you need to.
Schedule your Self-Nurture
Freeing the time and then making sure you use it for self-nurturing are two different challenges. There is a well-known rule that work expands to fill the time available. Once you make the time, you need to be sure you fill it with comforting things. This is especially true when you are trying to replace ambivalent activities with more nurturing ones.
Dream up a list of pleasurable activities you would love to do. Write this ‘Nurture List’ in a journal, diary or, even better, post them on the fridge so that you can be reminded to include them in your schedule regularly. Think of pleasures that encompass each area of your life:
- Mental; and
Make your list varied in terms of time requirements. That is, list activities you can do in a few minutes, an hour, a half-day, a day, or even two days.
Your list does not have to be made up entirely of solitary pleasures, but some activities you should do alone just to ensure you are basing your list on activities that you enjoy and are not just doing to keep someone else happy. Try to come up with at least twenty nurturing activities. This will give you variety. Now open up your calendar and schedule in those activities.