In busy times it can be easy to rationalize “taking back” time that could be spent on self-care. 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, or a particularly busy period like quarter or year-end, etc.
- A change in a family member’s health that requires special care
- Travel (vacations, personal, or business-related)
- Holidays (especially end-of-year)
It’s easy for the brain to rationalize how a pause on self-care could help make your life easier. How many things you could do with that time! Things you could cross off your “to-do” list, which you believe will help you feel less stressed out or anxious!
The truth is, 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 or sitting down to a nourishing meal.
And, part of your mind (or even your body!) may remind you just how good you feel when you practice self-care consistently.
Which Voice Wins?
One of my favorite books of all-time is Michael Singer’s “The Untethered Soul”. In it, he describes such voices in our heads: specifically, how they’re often in an argument with each other.
External conflict can make things difficult enough for us (e.g. one “expert” says to do something and another says don’t). When the conflict is inside you, how do you know which voice to trust and follow? They’re both you!
Well (getting a little “meta” here), neither of the voices ARE you. The real you is the part of you that is aware of all these voices, the one who can step back and watch them argue back and forth from inside. Therefore, the “real you” question in this case is kind of a distraction!
As I’ve discussed in this article, there is a way to know which voice is best for you to follow in any given situation. However, this requires some practice, so I have a simple rule:
The Busier You Are, The More Important the Self-Care
When you know you’re about to hit a busy period, devote yourself more fully to your rest and self-care activities. Preserve the time on your calendar like you’d keep your child’s doctor’s appointment. Honor this time as you would helping a family member in need.
There is no “taking back” of your self-care time for other things, because “other things” can always fill this space. Don’t even make it an option.
The Importance of Doubling-Down
If the voice that’s encouraging you to spend your self-care time in other ways is strong and you can’t 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 4 reasons why being more committed to yourself will help you:
- You’ll 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! Feel like there isn’t enough time in a day? Induce the relaxation response, and the “more time” you crave may seem to magically appear!
- You’ll 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 have energy to be productive during the day.
- Your body may recover better 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 requires sitting in closed quarters; in working long hours at the computer, we’re likely to forget our posture; preparing for a move can require unusual feats of strength with boxes, etc. If you suffer from a chronic illness or injury, self-care can mean the difference between a flare up (or not), as well as the intensity and duration of it.
- Maintain mental clarity & make better decisions. Without adequate rest breaks, busy times leave us feeling scattered, panicked, pulled in 50 different directions at once. We’re often making many more decisions than usual, and we may not have the time we’d like to properly think them through. From choosing what to eat for dinner to negotiating contract terms, you want have a calm AND alert mind!
A Word About Taking Back Your Self-Care Time
A big reason why many people start to rationalize letting go of self-care is specifically because of the time factor. But this idea that self-care activities need to take up hours is a myth!
Are you ready to get serious about self-care & sleep?
I CAN HELP.
If you’re not sure what you can do in random, 5-15 minute windows, that’s my specialty! Sign up for my FREE 7-Day Self-Care Challenge to get lots of ideas and support as you practice doubling down on your self-care!