What Have You Done for YOU today?
What have you done for yourself today? This is the question I ask myself at the end of everyday and all too often I am less then thrilled with the answer. So really, “What have you done for YOURSELF today?” Stop what you are doing now and make a list. If it’s early in the day as you read this you might need to think back to yesterday. Start at the beginning of the day and write down everything you did just for you. If you list only includes 1. Ate some food 2. Visited the bathroom It’s too short and, honestly, kind of depressing. As a working wife and mother of a 23, 21 and 10 year old, (yes, I have prolonged my childbearing years way, way too long!) I know how difficult it can be to find the time for “me” each day. With so many familial and work responsibilities it is quite easy to put myself last and instead honor the plethora of commitments that have been planned or those that seem to randomly just show up each day. It seems that just as I have gotten it together to make it to the gym (the one that is only $20 per month-what a deal when you go 2-3 times a week, less of a deal if it is only once per month- another story…) dressed and ready to go with iPod in hand, that my husband, daughter, son, friend, dog, gas meter reader guy, etc. needs me. And being the dutiful and responsible wife, mother, friend, pet and home owner, I take my efforts and energy away from me and putting myself on the proverbial “back burner.”
a state of inaction or suspension; a position of relatively little importance.
"priorities that have been placed on the back burner year after year"
But the thing about the back burner is that you stop paying attention to what you put on it. You’ve got the burner set on “low” knowing that whatever it is that you are keeping warm probably won’t burn and you go on with preparing the rest of the meal. Not a huge problem when making dinner but certainly an issue when you find yourself exhausted, out of shape, and unhappy because you stopped paying attention to you. When I find my personal "end of the day list" too short I know that I really only have myself to blame. While I have taken on the responsibilities of my life, certainly not all of them being well thought out at times, I know that I have no one to blame but me when find myself on the “back burner” and my “just for me” list way too short. So what do I do about it? I start with the intention to “pay attention to me.” “The intention to pay attention.” Say that 3 times fast! Not only is that phrase mouthful, you may be thinking that it’s “easier said then done.” and you’d be right both times. From my time as a competitive runner and figure skater as well as my experience working with clients as an exercise physiologist, skating, and yoga instructor, I know three things: getting started is the hardest part, consistency keeps you going, and setting reasonable goals brings you to success.
1. Starting today, set an intention to pay more attention to you.
Because of unplanned disruptions, emergencies, etc, you may not be able to honor this commitment everyday. However, setting time a side holds a space in your day. It needs to be kept sacred and not intentionally filled with something that doesn’t improve your personal health and wellness in some way. Depending on your current level of appropriated “me time” you may ant to start with only 10-15 minutes and work up from there. Mornings work best for me so I personally have committed to getting up 45 minutes before the rest of the household. Simple Suggestion: Set an alarm or an alert on your phone or tablet for the same time each. When it goes off stop what you are doing, even if that means sleeping or folding laundry, and move toward you “me” time. If you have full day of responsibilities planned with few opportunities for a break it might be best to plan to find a period of time in the morning or just before bed.
2. Decide in advance what you are going to during your “me” time and make it truly about you.
Getting up early and staying up late to do laundry, clean the kitchen, binge watch "fill in the blank” show on Netflix, doesn’t count. It must be something that moves you to better health or feeds your soul in some way. In todays stressful world we think that by plopping down on the couch and putting on the television is considered relaxation. But it isn’t. Even if you avoid the ridiculousness of realty or violent shows, you still are not truly relaxing. True relaxation is when tension in the body and mind are removed and you can be in the present moment. This is where breath exercises or meditation can come in to play. Simple Suggestions: When it comes to meditating, many people will tell you that they would like to try it, or do more of it, but they “just don’t have the time.” And while the benefits of regular mediation or sitting silently are enumerable and well-documented even the most dedicated practitioners go through periods of time where meditation takes a back burner to all the distractions of life. My personal meditation practice ebbs and flows depending on what is going on in my life on any given week but I do my best to find a few minutes everyday to sit in silence. However, on days where I am struggling to make time for meditation, I am reminded of an episode of “Oprah” that I saw and actually wrote about in this blog a few years ago. The episode was about being happy and what to do to “be happy.”In addition to being inspired by listening to guest Goldie Hawn speak about her own experiences of meditation, happiness, and love I remember resonating with Oprah’s challenge to her audience to sit in silence for 1-minute a day. Just 1-minute. From past experience I know that once I’ve made time for that 1-minute, it most often turns to 2 minutes and in many cases 10-15 minutes have passed and I have managed what would be considered a legitimate meditative effort. And it all started by making time for just 1-minute! Even the busiest person can find a minute. Yes, even you! No? Sure you can. Before getting out of bed, while standing in line, before lunch, before going to sleep, etc. are all great opportunities to take 1- minute to stop ‘doing” and just “be.” Take that 1 minute, or 2 or 30 for yourself. It will be worth every second.