SNIPPETS OF INSPIRATION: CARE & CURIOSITY
Next week is February. And it’s one of my two annual ‘care and curiosity’ months.
It means I won’t be working. Instead I will be focussing on self-care. Letting my system completely relax and replenishing my energy. And once my brain has cooled down a bit and I am feeling restored, I will spend some of my time exploring things that I am curious about but don’t have time to look at in my busy ‘working’ months. It might be a book I’ve been wanting to read (or several!); an issue I’ve read about in the news but not really understood. It might be a skill I’m interested in or a subject that I have a superficial knowledge of and want to understand more deeply.
I am incredibly fortunate to be able to structure my year in a way that suits me. But it has taken a long time to get to this point. Perhaps, if I had developed a better understanding of what I needed earlier in my life, I would have made different choices about my career to facilitate something like this much earlier on.
Instead, for years, I struggled with the concept of self-care. I read books, talked to coaches and came up with elaborate schedules and rituals to ensure that I was taking care of myself. Inevitably I would fail to stick to those new routines and my failure would become another stick I used to beat myself up. Ironically my desire to take care of myself became a reason to berate myself as being ‘not good enough’. I wasn’t ‘good enough’ at self-care!
Finally, in my late 40s, I have come to understand a few things about me.
When I am working, I work hard. It is my nature to do things that way. Over the years I have let go of some of the limiting beliefs and unhelpful values that drove the extremes of my workaholism but what remains is central to who I am. I am focussed and determined and I love my work.
I enjoy immersion. For me the best way to learn is to immerse myself in a subject. The best way to work is by immersing myself into that work. And the best way for me to relax? You guessed it…I need to immerse myself fully in an atmosphere of relaxation and self-care for more than a couple of hours or days.
There’s one other thing that I’ve learnt: self-care is not simply a moment in time. Yes it’s lovely to spend two hours in the bath on a Sunday morning – something I do whenever I can! But that’s not going to mitigate what you’re subjecting your system to if, for the rest of the week, you are not listening to what your mind, body and spirit need. True self-care exists in the daily choices we make and those choices are personal to each of us.
Now, I could spend aeons fighting against my nature but I’ve decided instead to accept it. Not because I am resistant to self-care – although sometimes I am! – but because it needs to work in a way that aligns with who I am and how I operate.
So this is what self-care looks like for me:
- Small, daily choices: to eat better food, drink more water, not eat things that inflame my body, not drink caffeine, not drink alcohol more than a few times a year
- A focus on sleep: sleep is the one thing that if I get it right makes everything else easier
- Time by the ocean: it’s the fastest way for me to recharge my batteries
- Regular treatment: I see a massage therapist and an osteopath about once every ten days.
- Two ‘care & curiosity’ months: plus a few smaller breaks each year
Sometimes I ‘slip’. Indeed, I spent a lot of the latter part of last year ‘slipping’. But I’ve gotten better at forgiving myself for my transgressions!
Self-care is just that – it’s about your SELF. It’s your responsibility and it’s something that needs to work for YOU. Somebody else’s ‘recipe’ may work beautifully for them but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. So don’t simply adopt their approach and then judge yourself for not sticking to it.
Tune in to yourSELF. Learn what you need and how you work. Structure your days, weeks, months or years in ways that support you but don’t allow self-care to become a tyranny. Make the decision each day to do what YOU need to do and forgive yourself each night for any slips along the way.
I don’t want to overwhelm you with even more things to think about! But if you’d like to know more about my take on this then please do read my other blogs on self-care and burn out. And of course there’s our quick and easy guide The Actually Guide to Self-Care, just a little something to remind you that self-care isn’t selfish.
I’ll see you in March!
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