Slowing down as self-care
It’s just gone 11pm here in Auckland, New Zealand. I’m sitting at my desk in my very messy, and about to be redesigned, office, listening to Radio Company and musing about slowing down and self-care. My PA has taken care of promotional posts, the week’s work has been scheduled and transferred to Trello and my physical planner. The rest of the household – those with four paws and those with two – sleeps already.
Today, instead of Doing All The Things – aka working on Sunday, I spent time with Ms 21 who was home for the weekend, drank wine with Mr 23, and binged the last couple of episodes of Midnight Mass with Dennis (it was so good). There was some online shopping since apparently my threadbare yoga pants are no longer appropriate for anything other than perhaps dusting and there was lasagna with extra cheese. There was also a glass of bourbon.
It wasn’t just a good day. It was a great day.
It was a day of slow. Of self-care.
Right now, I’m at my desk with Jensen Ackles singing City Grown Willow in my ears (it’s a tough job I tell you) and I feel really good. And folks, it’s not just the bourbon. It’s not the square of chocolate I had with the bourbon either. It wasn’t buying new clothes or the great soundtrack to Midnight Mass. It was that I just slowed down, you know? I wasn’t chasing the deadlines. I wasn’t buried in research. I wasn’t worrying about revenue or advertising creatives or hell, apologizing for buying a ready made lasagna for dinner instead of making it myself. I can make lasagna – but it would have taken me hours and I would have been too grumpy to enjoy it, whereas tonight I simply popped it in the oven for 40 minutes and served. It was delicious – Ms 21 even took some home to her man – and easy.
I feel great. I may not have finished my current book or completed the research I’d wanted to do, but I am actually looking forward to working on it in the morning.Why is this remarkable? Because for most of this year, I’ve hated Sunday nights. The coming week has been a thing to fear and resent – yet another one I wouldn’t be able to conquer. It’s been at least a year since I’ve enjoyed listening to music while I worked.
Tonight I can’t get enough. I’m like a little kid who wants just five more minutes – I don’t want to go to bed yet because I want to hear just one more song.
Like most of us when I think of self-care I tend to think of the usual things – good food, a mani-pedi, soaking in a tub, reading a book in peace. When my mind turns to more esoteric things, I might toss in an extra chanting session or a maybe some yoga. Over this past year these things have become distorted for a lot of reasons – some of which I’ll probably touch on in other blog posts but for now let’s just lump them in the sundry basket. What I don’t think of is simply taking things easy.
I think many (most) of us – especially women – view self-care as one more thing on our daily To Do list – and it’s nearly always the one we put off. It’s always so easy to do that, don’t you think? To justify putting it off. Is a mani-pedi that important? Soaking in the tub can wait because the research for this book can’t. Go for a walk? A bike ride? Unroll the yoga mat (or in my case find the damned thing)? They can wait until after the house is clean, the garage has been sorted out, the reports are sent off. I’ll toss something together for dinner while doing something else. This is where I beg you to spare a thought for my family – not only do I dislike cooking, I’m usually doing it while writing or researching – sometimes both. Let’s not even discuss how often we all eat while doing something else. Forget watching TV or a movie – I don’t know about you but I can watch and type at the same time.
In fact, I have been known to work on my tablet while getting the mani-pedi….yeah that time that is meant to be for me to unwind usually ends up being a shining example of multi-tasking. I’m pretty sure most of you know what I’m talking about because you’ve been there.
The thing about this is we all know. We all know we need to take time out for ourselves right? That multitasking doesn’t work, that we matter too, and that we deserve to have some down time to recover and recuperate. Yet, for too many of us self care has become yet another thing on the to do list – and generally it’s the first thing to be ignored. Do we think that if we slow down we’ll be considered lazy? Self-indulgent? Maybe.
Would you like to know something? I don’t care.
Don’t get me wrong, things have to be done. Deadlines have to be met. Clothes need to be washed and houses cleaned and assignments completed and posts need to be written, read, and liked. All of those things have to happen – but guess what? Sometimes they can just wait. Every now and then, we’re allowed to just stop. Watch the movie. Laugh with your partner or your kids. Hell, I’m feeling generous – laugh with your partner and your kids. Eat the chocolate and drink the bourbon – or whatever it is that you enjoy. Do something that makes your life easier even if it’s only for five minutes.
Today I did nothing special. Nothing planned. I simply let the day happen and enjoyed the time with my family and my cats (side note – if you have never seen a Tonkinese with catnip…let me tell you, they’re hilarious) without trying to tick things off the list. I cannot tell you how good I feel. Actually, yes I can: I’m listening to my favorite music and chatting with you – things I haven’t done in a long time.
So I have a challenge for you. One day this week, slow down. It doesn’t need to be a whole day – it can be an hour. But slow down. Just let yourself be. Do something without trying to cram five other things in at the same time. Don’t worry about the To Do list. I promise it will still be there when you’re ready to pick up the pace again. Give yourself time to breathe. And hey, I’d love to hear what you did (or didnt’ do since the point here is to slow down) and how it turned out – even if what you did was take a nap. In fact, I especially want to hear if you took a nap. Naps are the best.
On that note, I’m going to leave you with this lovely clip from Radio Company and go to bed: