In today’s world, it has become really easy to take our health (and even others) for granted. We lead such busy lives that we end up ignoring the tell tale signs of our body trying to send us a message, trying to let us know when we need to slow down. We are not taught how to pay attention to our inner guidance system, our intuition which includes our emotions and desires. For it is only taking out the time to pause and listen can we move towards love, fulfillment, joy, and health.
Our symptoms and illnesses are often an invitation for us to slow down, rest, and bring our attention back to the things which are truly important so that we do not put them off for “someday” like we usually do. A lack of regular self care and a consistent focus on creating good health is often something that falls into this category of the list of items that we will get to “someday when we have more time“.
There are many different signs that we get from our bodies telling us that we need to slow down, pay attention and take corrective action.
For example, you will know if need to pay attention if
How do I know this?
Simple, I was once in a place where I was starting to face a few minor health issues in 2016 due to the intensely stressful years prior to that. This extremely challenging phase of our lives began in 2013 with our daughter’s severe health crisis. Over time I realised how important it was for me to take care of my own health as much as I took care of her. As her mother and primary caregiver, I had to make sure that I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually in the best of shape to be there for her the way she needed me to.
Also, I have my mother to thank for showing me how self care actually works. When my father passed away at a young age of 44, my mother had to raise two small children by herself (I was 12 and my brother was 6 at the time). In the midst of our struggles and many challenges, my mother took care of herself and the two of us using a combination of grace and strength. I remember seeing her pull herself together and be there for us during those difficult years.
Like you, my academic life did not really teach me anything about self care. If anything, I got very different messages from popular media and the world at large about what it meant to juggle my roles as a professional and a mother. Often, I got the impression that I had to prove myself at the expense of my health. It was only when I went through the struggles in my own life that I reconnected with myself and set in place a self care practice that has sustained me and helped me thrive.
Self care and your health
As women, we are natural caregivers and tend to give of ourselves on a regular basis- to our families, loved ones, and even society at large. We often lead super busy lives with little or no room of self care. However, if we do not take out time on a regular basis to recharge and replenish we end up feeling exhausted, depleted, and even burned out.
We can even end up making choices out of guilt and obligation rather than from a place of love and compassion.
How do you want to feel?
By doing this and asking for help when needed, we can give ourselves time to breathe and avoid falling into a pattern of self neglect. For it is often when we neglect ourselves that we start feeling deprived- of companionship, time, peace, love, attention, energy, and much more. This serves neither ourselves nor those whom we love and we often end up paying a heavy price in terms of our own health.
Permission to PAUSE
I came across this beautiful “recipe” on the website The woman’s Network the other day and I though it was perfect for this topic.
Giving yourself permission to pause during a hectic, busy day is an act of self love, self compassion, and of course, self care.
What I find to be most sustainable is to schedule regular mini breaks into my day. Whether it is 5 min or 20, finding a way to remind myself to take breaks on a regular basis keeps me energised, productive, and grounded throughout a busy day.
5 easy ways of taking “mini breaks” in your day
These are my top 5 recommendations of pausing during your day whether you have 5 min, 15 min or even 50. Feel free to make changes and incorporate new ways of taking scheduled breaks and making it your own.
- Enjoying your favourite beverage – take out at least 5 to 10 min to pay attention and savour your cup of tea/coffee. Notice the aroma, the colour and the taste of the beverage in your mouth. Take as much time as you can to enjoy this time and notice how it makes you feel
- Write in your journal- jot down your thought or download what’s going on in your mind by taking out a few minutes of your day. If this does not work for you, you can also doodle, sketch or paint. The point is to do something that you enjoy so that you do this on a sustainable basis
- Read– this is also a favourite of mine and one that I do every single day. It works even better if what you are reading inspires and motivates you. You can also choose to listen to your favourite podcast or listen to an audible book
- Do nothing– put a timer for 5 minutes (or more) and simply be- pause and breathe
- Switch off – Set a daily time for no electronics, social media, or work; consider meditation, visualization, making art, taking a nap, or spending time in nature
The important thing is to treat this time as sacred and schedule this time into your calendar. Make a commitment to yourself and remember to make this appointment with yourself non-negotiable. Remind yourself that you are worthy of your own time and attention. Take this time to replenish yourself rather than feeling guilty or selfish.
As Maya Angelou had said
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