People who are caretakers and nurturers by nature find it challenging to spend some time on themselves, just doing whatever they want to do for no benefit that will really help another person but will give them a chance to relax and get to know their own needs and desires.
For those who aren’t caretakers or nurturers, this can still be a challenge, because most of us don’t know who we are or what it would take to truly make us feel happy. There are plenty of things we enjoy, and stuff we could do just to pass the time, but when confronted with all of our responsibilities, it just doesn’t happen.
We’ve all heard that it’s important to take time for ourselves, to rest and heal, to withdraw and relax, but we most often think, “Yeah, I will when I can. Right now I have to do ___.”
And so it never happens because there’s always one more thing to get finished first.
I’m bad at this because I spend a huge amount of time preparing lessons, organizing rituals and planning ceremonies for my students. I also have loved ones who deserve attention and care, so finding this balance for myself is something I have to be mindful and protective of.
In my own personal experience, I have found that spending ten to fifteen minutes a day in quiet meditation is helpful for keeping myself centered and focused. When I miss these appointments with myself, I get irritable and crabby, just like others around us may feel when we forget to take care of their needs.
You need to allow this same attention for yourself.
It’s wonderful when another person showers you with affection, and it’s appreciated, but it’s no substitute for regular self-care.
This isn’t about allowing yourself to take this time — the fifteen or so minutes a day that I mentioned — but demanding that you take it. If you seek to get permission from others who care about you, of course, they will agree that you need to take it, but that doesn’t mean you will.
If you seek to get permission from yourself, and it is granted, then you know you can do it… when you get around to it.
Been there; done that.
No, carve out fifteen minutes of every day where you will just sit and close your eyes and breathe. You don’t have to think about anything in particular; in fact, if you aren’t practiced in meditation, then trying to keep your mind blank will prove such an exhausting challenge you won’t feel refreshed at all
So here’s what you do:
- Choose a favorite incense or scented candle, one that is soothing and relaxing to you — lavender, vanilla, or any clean or pure scent is good. Light it and enjoy the fragrance.
- Turn off all electronics — no phone, no television, no radio/MP3/etc.
- You can set an egg timer or something if you’re concerned about running over your time. This is only to keep you from worrying about when your time is up. If you set this sort of alarm, then you know you have until the alarm sounds. Make sure it’s a gentle one, not a loud, annoying one.
- Make sure all others in your household know that for fifteen minutes, you are not to be disturbed. This means pets should be kept from the area too if they are attention-seekers.
- Sit comfortably, don’t worry about posture or perfecting some sort of ‘right position’. Just sit where none of your limbs will fall asleep or start to ache.
- Close your eyes, focus on relaxing and releasing all the tension from each area of your body as you take smooth, deep breaths. Do this until your time is up.
If you can’t get the time alone at home to do this, then go somewhere else where you won’t be disturbed. A park, a library, or sitting in a safe place inside your car are all reasonable options.
Take care of yourself, not because it’s necessary for you to do so in order to care for others, but because you YOURSELF are worthy of this care.