Updated June 6, 2018
One day, some time ago, I woke up in a grumpy, grumbly mood. This is super unusual for me as a bona fide morning person – and generally enthusiastic about greeting my day. But on that morning I just wanted to grab a book, stay in bed, and read. And not talk to anybody. And not cook for anybody. And not check off any to-do boxes. I'd been pushing hard for awhile with a lot of travel, teaching, and writing, and needed a day off. I wasn’t sick. I wasn't tired. But I felt like an over-hungry toddler on the verge of a tantrum! My knickers weren’t even on yet and they were already in a knot!
But…but …but…[my inner boss was insisting]…you have work to do. There are emails to answer. Phone calls to make. Blogs to write. Magazine interviews to prepare for. You have editors counting on you. And you were planning to cook a really nice meal with Tracy today. So, I told myself , “Girl, put on a gratitude attitude and get your ass in gear!”
But I just wasn't feeling it. I was on the edge of crispy.
So I started to listen in to my Inner Wise Woman and asked. “Why AM I feeling this way? What AM I hungry for? Where is this coming from???” A lot of the same questions I ask my patients (hmmm…Doctor, Heal Thyself!).
And I realized that the answer was clear and simple: I needed to give myself PERMISSION TO PAUSE. We all need time to restore and reset – ideally on a regular basis – and especially when we've been pushing hard!
Natural Givers Need to Replenish
Women are especially bad at taking time for ourselves. Mothers are even worse. We are natural givers and tenders. And doctors aren’t too good at hitting the pause button either. We are trained to keep going in the face of no sleep, emotional exhaustion, and constant external demands. Women, moms, and health care providers tend to give at the expense of ourselves. We all lead super busy lives that leave little time for self-care.
Running on empty doesn’t serve us – or those we care for. It makes us less effective in our work, less productive, and less happy. Running on empty leads us to feel conflicted, victimized, angry, exhausted, irritable, or some combination thereof. We’ve all had that whiney feeling of “There’s no time for me!” And as women, we often chalk this up to a selfish thought, and push on.
But the evidence is really there that if you are happier and more relaxed, you are actually better for everyone and at everything you do.
So yesterday I asked myself these 5 questions:
- If I took some time for myself, what would be the best thing that could happen?
- The worst thing?
- How much time do I need, realistically, and how often, to feel recharged?
- How am I going to create this time?
- And what would I like to do with the time?
I came up with ten simple things that I could easily fit into my lifestyle that would get me back to center and keep my cup running over rather than almost empty. Most require 30 minutes to an hour, though some could even be a ten-minute power refresher. I figure only good can come from taking better care of myself, and that committing to time to pause for at least ten minutes daily, and up to an hour, 4 times a week, is optimal for me.
My Permission to Pause Top 10 List
- Take a walk with nowhere to go (short or long depending on the day), alone or with a pal, but walk in silence. Gardening is great too, weather permitting.
- Write in my journal – I can do it in a special place at home or get away to the local coffee shop. Focus on things for which I am grateful, appreciate in myself, or dream about.
- Take a hot bath (add a glass of wine and a book for extra luxury!) or a long shower – make it feel like I’m at a spa…
- Exercise (or at least do 10 sun salutations, some squats, lunges, and push-ups if time is short).
- Get a massage once in awhile.
- Have a cup of tea and read a book – especially non-fiction or inspirational – for an hour without interrupting myself to do anything else.
- Listen to music – and dance wildly. Yes, break a sweat.
- Watch a favorite movie once a week without ever once opening up the computer to check email or other social media.
- Set a daily time for no electronics, social media, or work; consider meditation, visualization, making art, taking a nap, or laying in the grass and staring up at the sky – find creatures in the clouds.
- Prepare a special, wonderful meal each week and eat slowly, deliberately, with perfect attention to just the experience of the meal.
Here’s the thing, though. You have to value yourself and this time enough to make it NON-NEGOTIABLE TIME.
- Getting clear about what “me” time means to you and explaining this to the people in your life
- Staying committed – not letting your inner gremlin talk you out of your time to yourself
- Doing a daily inventory of whether you are taking care of yourself and if you are not, how you need to
- Respecting yourself enough to take care of yourself
- Taking enough time to listen to yourself so you know what you desire/need
Taking “me time” isn’t selfish – it is self-respecting and healthy. It is something we can teach our children, spouses, colleagues, employees, and patients to do. It is about celebrating and respecting ourselves.
To honor my need to hit the pause button and just replenish, I went on a long walk this morning without any guilt for not getting any work done. I was being a “human being,” not a “human doing.” My oldest daughter and my husband joined me. We talked only about the beauty around us and the amazing things we saw – like a porcupine and the beauty of a moss-covered stone wall we passed along the way.
I returned home refreshed, energized, peaceful, and happy.
I’m a busy beaver sort of girl with a tendency to stray into high performance, self-ignoring mode. I’ve been committed to listening to my need to replenish and what's amazing is that when we make time for this, time seems to expand in general. I feel less pressured overall and work more happily, at a healthier pace, and get more, not less, done.
Do you need Permission to Pause? How can you fit in non-negotiable “self-nourishing time” in a few times over the next 2 weeks? What are you going to do with it? What are your obstacles and how can you overcome them?
Let’s share our stories in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!
Here’s to nourishing ourselves!