Sometimes our brains (and hearts) get in a sticky-confused-state between what you think you should be doing and what you actually should be doing. You know, you should be cleaning the house, but you actually should be making the time for that yoga class you’ve been wanting to go to. I, as a mom, wife, woman, type-A busy-body have come to one very (very!) important conclusion and you should too:
You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
Yes, really. It’s simple and true and yet so bloody hard to actually do. Or we do it but it’s often because we’re burnt-out already and we must take the time for ourselves or else we’ll lose our grip with life, with our kids, with our jobs, with the universe. I’m not saying it’s always easy (or even possible), but I’m convinced that when you get the chance take it—honour yourself first and you will be your best you and able to honour others: happily, properly and most importantly, whole-heartedly.
It’s hard work reminding ourselves that we need to do that thing that is nourishing. I think if there were one bit of advice I would give to anyone, anywhere (especially those who have littles!) is that you have to take time for you because when you do everything else goes more smoothly. Think of it like a 1:4 formula. When you give yourself one hour to do that thing that is good for you, you have at least 4 times the patience, happiness, energy, gratitude than you would have before. And that means everything (and in turn everyone in your life) is happier. Now you’re getting me, right!?
Recently I had a an experience where I had the chance to go to a yoga class. It was a last minute suggestion of “oh I’m here and you can leave your little-one for an hour and it’s first thing in the morning so everything will be great”. I said “okay yes, amazing!” out loud and yet I had a small internal-panic because I had plans to go out this very same morning with my sister. They were fluid plans and they easily could be moved to the afternoon because we were both free and in vacation mode, but I still did a total “no I can’t do that because I said I would do this other thing and therefore I shouldn’t go do something for me because I have to keep my word.” I, like so many, get caught in the feeling of responsibility and not wanting to disappoint anyone.
It took me until after the sun salutation warm-up to breath into believing that it is okay to have chosen the thing that was good for me in the very little time I have on my own without my baby-boy (okay he’s pretty much a toddler, but I’m holding onto calling him a baby!). As I moved through each warrior-pose I began to find a mantra: grab the chance to honour yourself. It’s more than just remembering what we need, it’s grabbing hold of it and going unabashedly forward into the space that lets you be with the rhythm of your own mind and breath and to not feel guilt or worry or uneasy about the time you have. It’s being kind but unapologetic about taking an hour because you deserve an hour (or maybe even two!). You must also remember: if someone is carving out the space and time for you, it’s up to you to see it, own it and take it. I think we (all of us, not only mother’s) often give up opportunities for much needed time and space more than we recognize. I am trying to get better at seeing these opportunities and letting them happen. Because at the end of the day, we are better (humans, woman, men, moms, dads, colleagues, leaders, partners) when we can reflect, have time and be grateful.
I am a pleaser and genuinely like to make sure everyone else is happy. It brings me joy to nourish those I love. The recipes I come up with and the cooking I do is some of my most creative and enjoyable time. I adore it. But I too can get tired and resentful when I don’t have nourishing time for myself. I think it’s it’s a job in itself to a) know what truly nourishes you and b) actually do that thing. All too often I hear people talk about not actually knowing what nourishes them. They think going out for dinner and drinks is relaxing but actually end up feeling tired and drained afterwards. Maybe you are someone who genuinely loves being out in the world to replenish, or maybe it’s that spin-class to sweat it out, yoga class to breath through it, bubble bath and a book for some solitude? Knowing what you need is knowing who you are so start wherever you stand today and take a moment to feel out what really (I mean really!) makes you feel nourished. A good rule of thumb is to think about this—during and after your time: do I feel happy, do I feel excited, do I feel at ease, do I feel loved, do I feel like my best self, do I feel like the person I want to be, do I feel grateful. If any one of those feelings are present, then you are probably doing something that is good for you.
As conscious humans, digging deep to know what we need to feel like our best-selves is key. (And step number one!) Once we know that then we must find the space to take the time, the focus to make the time and the humility to accept the time when someone is offering. The latter is the one that is my current project. Recognizing when you have time and doing the thing you need to do to honour you, first and foremost, is the best thing you can do for all those around you.
Grab it (be grateful for it) and roll with it. You (and everyone around you) will be happy you did.