We all experience times in life when things get busier than usual. Some examples include:
- Buying or selling a house, moving
- Having a baby (or babies, as in the case of my friends!)
- A new job, change in an existing job, quarter or year-end, etc.
- A change in a family member’s health that requires special care taking
- Travel (vacations, personal, or business-related)
In these busy times it can be easy to rationalize how taking back the 30 minutes or hour one spends on self-care could help make life easier. How many things you could do in that time! Things you could cross off your “to-do” list to make you feel less stressed out or anxious. There will always be a part of your mind that tells you to skip your yoga class, that you don’t have time to meditate, that you don’t have the luxury of taking a walk. And, there is likely the part of your mind (or even your body!) that reminds you just how good you feel when you do your self-care activity consistently.
Which Voice Wins?
Since I’m between library books at the moment, I picked up Michael Singer’s “The Untethered Soul” again. One of the interesting things he describes is these voices in our heads; specifically, how they are often in an argument with each other. When external, conflicting information is difficult enough (e.g. to eat something vs. not to eat something). When it’s inside ourselves, how do you know which voice to trust? They’re both you!
Well, it’s simple: neither of the voices are you–even the one you think (or feel) is truly correct. “You” are the aspect of you that has the capacity to watch all the voices you have argue back and forth.
Stop Listening, Start Doing
As such, it does you no good to listen to any of the voices that argue about where your time is better spent. When you know you’re about to hit on a busy period, devote yourself more fully to your self-care activities. Preserve the time on your calendar like you’d preserve your child’s doctor’s appointment. Honor this time as you would helping a family member in need.
The Importance of Doubling-Down
If the voice that’s encouraging you to spend your self-care time in other ways is strong and no you cannot seem to recognize it as something you should ignore (because hey, we all get caught up in our self-talk from time to time), here are N reasons why being more committed to your self-care activities will help you during this busy time:
- Maintain or build your stress resilience–hopefully I don’t need to reiterate all the negative health consequences of chronic stress! However, one of the unique side-effects of feeling stressed is that we can perceive that time as moving faster than it actually is! (Another blog on this fascinating topic soon.) Feel like there isn’t enough time in a day? Induce a relaxation response and more time may appear to magically open up!
- Encourage refreshing sleep–it’s easier to fall and stay asleep when you have downshifted your energy at some point throughout the day. You need your sleep to be efficient so that you can be sharp during the day.
- Allow your body to recover from increased or decreased physical activity–When we’re busy, we’re typically less mindful about how we’re holding or using our bodies. Traveling often requires sitting in closed quarters; in working long hours at the computer, we’re more likely to forget our posture; preparing for a move often requires unusual feats of strength with packing and shifting boxes, etc. If you suffer from a chronic illness or injury, self-care can be the difference between a flare up (or not), as well as the intensity and duration of it.
- Maintain mental clarity & make better decisions–Without self-care, busy times tend to leave us feeling scattered, panicked, pulled in 50 different directions at once. In busy times, we’re often making many decisions throughout the day, and we may not have the time we’d like to properly think them through. From choosing what to eat for dinner to negotiating terms in a contract, you want to be operating from a mind that’s both alert and calm!
A Word About Self-Care Activities
Self-care activities need not take up hours! In fact, if they do, you’re less likely to do them when you’re at your busiest, even if they do make you feel good. Not sure what self-care activities to do in 5-15 minutes? Sign up for the next Self-Care Challenge and get lots of ideas and support as you practice!