As I mentioned in a previous post (‘My Top Tips for Self-Care’), self-care is a concept which has caught my attention in a big way over the past few months. And I thought that I’d nailed it.
Then this happened…
Picture the scene: It’s 10am. I’m up, dressed and feeling pretty good (in comparison to many of the other days recently). I have an appointment to get to for 11am, which means I have roughly half an hour before having to leave the house. I still need to get myself some breakfast, brush my teeth, check my hair, get my shoes, coat and bag together and get out of the door.
so, obviously, I just get on with it, right?
Instead, I chose to get on with the huge pile of washing up that was left on the side from the night before. It wasn’t until I was half way through the washing up, looking up at the clock and seeing that I had 15 minutes to get my act in gear, that I thought ‘WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?’
‘Well, what’s the big problem?’ I hear you cry.
Here’s the problem, my friend. A few days before this, I’d made a huge point of setting myself some goals. I sat down with a notepad and pen, a cup of tea and my thoughts sharply focused upon how I could help myself to feel better. I narrowed it down to three things:
- Get at least 8 hours of good sleep a night.
- Exercise at least 3 times a week.
- Eat regularly.
Number 3 was particularly important because I’d really lost my appetite over the previous few weeks, resulting in a LOT of skipped meals. I was starting to physically see the negative effects this was having on me (dull skin, weight loss, low energy, feeling run down, the list could go on!)
I knew I had to commit to taking some serious action for myself.
I even went to the extent of setting SMART targets to help me achieve my goals. I vowed to:
- Plan meals ahead of time
- Go food shopping before the cupboards are bare
- Eat within 1 hour of getting up
- Eat at least 3 meals a day, regardless of how I’m feeling
- Have some quick and easy options available for low days
- Eat at least 1 portion of fruit a day (I’m already AWESOME at the veg part!)
So, snap back to my ’15-minutes-to-go’ scenario:
It suddenly hit me. I had just made the choice to put the washing up first. I had given it priority over giving myself fuel and nutrients for the busy day ahead. I had decided that the washing up was more important than my own health and wellbeing.
How twisted is that?
Needless to say, the washing up gloves came off quicker than I could say ‘EAT!’ … and I duly tucked into some natural yoghurt and granola before dashing out of the front door to my appointment.
This event really got me thinking though. How else had I been sending myself to the back of the line lately, without even noticing it?
We all do it. In our busy lives, so many other things take higher priority over our own wellbeing. Work, kids, partner, friends, family, chores, errands, appointments; They all get bumped up the list whilst our own needs get shot down or even crossed off completely.
I’m not suggesting that you chuck all of those other responsibilities out of the window and become some kind of narcissist. Obviously, sometimes there is absolutely no avoiding your responsibilities. Obviously, sometimes putting yourself last is the right thing to do. Obviously, you have to pay attention to your commitments, your work, your friends, your family.
But often, we’re actually making subconscious choices about our priorities, based on low self-worth, people-pleasing tendencies, a misguided sense of responsibility, what we think we should do, or what we believe that other people think we should be.
When did we become so unimportant in our own lives?
So, I invite you to check in with yourself over the next few days and weeks.Where are you coming last time and time again? Where are you neglecting your own wellbeing? When are you scratching your name off the list? When do you forego meeting your own needs in turn for serving others.
It’s time for a self-worth, self-care, self-loving kind of revolution! How could you begin to prioritise yourself again? What thing(s) could do for YOU? It doesn’t matter if it’s small. It could be as simple as eating breakfast before doing anything else in the morning (like me!) or it could be something more grand like carving out a whole evening to yourself once a fortnight.
Whatever it may be, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a step to wellbeing and beyond.