Creating change and experiencing elements of stretch in our lives, relationship, bodies and work is great. And it’s can also be energy consuming, brain-achy, nerve-jangling, pulse-raising…….oh how I could continue.
It can be tough going.
You need to take time out of change. Just like an elite runner takes time off the track, hangs up their spikes and does other things to promote mental and physical wellbeing. These might be related to their specialism or not.
Those who go hard day in, day out – without listening to their body, mind or feelings – tend to end up with long-term damage to their joints or muscles and lose their drive to compete or simply participate. They get switched off from their goals and their performance drops off.
Recharging and recovering also need to be a part of your journey, if you want to make it with your motivation and well-being intact.
And here is where your personal preferences, your self-awareness and your self-compassion come in.
Personal preference as to what your perfect “me time” activity is – time off with family, cycling class, baking cookies or a long soak. I’ve even been known to choose to do a batch of ironing.
“WHAT!!” I heard you cry. “Ironing?”
Yep. My “me time” activities include ironing. I like the sense of achievement I get producing a line up of perfectly ironed shirts. for me, it works on those days when everything isn’t going well, I’m not making progress and I’m frustrated. Getting hot and focused on the crease on the back of the arms, neatening out the pockets and soon bring my mind back to a sense of calm, displacing any other thoughts.
Pilates classes or a good read. Playing a monster game with my step kids. Swimming lengths back and forth. A glass of champagne. Laughing on the phone to a friend. All work for me in different moments. If I need to create a space to absorb a setback. If I need to empty my mind. If I need new inspiration. If I need reminding that I’m doing alright. I pick my perfect “me time” activity.
Spotting those moments is where developing your self-awareness is key. Recognising that tension in your neck, the shortening of your temper, when you’re fidgety or just can’t concentrate. Knowing your reactions in adversity or how you show fatigue are essential to putting in “me time”. This balances your determination, hard work and resilience for achieving your new life and stretch. Keep a journal, record your daily gratitude practices, reflect on your plans and progress. Check in with how you feel, as well as how you are doing, to connect your physical and emotional reactions to your actions.
And here’s where self-compassion becomes the permission to step off your change action plan. It’s oh so easy to fall into the trap of keep pushing, keep striving on, keep going until we break. Allow yourself some downtime. Allow yourself the chance to break off and do something from your “me time” list. Allow yourself to invest in maintaining your well-being, your mind and your planned change.
Take a moment or two now to think about how you balance striving for your desired outcomes and your perfect “me time” activity. Are you at risk of pushing to breaking? How do you spot those moments and what are your “me time” revitalising activities?
PS looking for a good fiction read? Two books, I’ve recently loved, are “A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel” by Ruth Ozeki and “Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. Got any recommendations for me?