Self-care has become a big buzzword in everything I read lately. For a long time, I felt too guilty to spend the time or money on myself to do the things I love. I also quite honestly did not have the time between managing a full-time career, 3 kids, and trying to squeeze in some social interactions here and there. I love exercising, going for a hike with my dog, a massage, a facial, acupuncture, and many other things but always felt a bit indulgent when there are so many other things to do.
After a friend encouraged me to do something for myself at least one time a day and that it would make me a happier more well-rounded person, I decided to take action and figure out how to find the time. The way she put it is that it is like putting on an oxygen mask, you have to put it on yourself first to survive, so that you can take care of everybody else around you. I started waking up an hour earlier every morning and started my meditation practice and getting some exercise in. People had talked to me about meditation but for a busy-body like myself, this did not seem like a good idea to sit still and quiet my mind for a period of time every day. I had too much to do and it was way too difficult to quiet my mind as I would just spend time thinking about everything I had to do. People say meditation is a practice and this is absolutely true. It is like training for a marathon, you have to work at it and build the muscles to do it. I started with 5 minutes of guided meditation and moved my way up eventually to 10 minutes of guided meditation and eventually, have learned how to meditate without any guidance for 10 minutes every day. Now, if I do not start my day with meditation, my entire day seems to be thrown off. So what really are the benefits? For me, it is the daily practice of quieting my mind that puts me in a more relaxed, centered state and ready to focus. Our minds need a break when we are not sleeping to just be quiet. As mentioned, I also started exercising more regularly and making it a priority. (the corporate culture does not make this easy when we are expected to be in the office and sedentary all day) Not only is exercise good for our health, but for me it is also a way to relieve stress and build up energy for the day by releasing endorphins. Finally, I started scheduling acupuncture 2 times a month and a massage one time a month and I have never felt better about investing the time and money. I feel better physically and mentally and I am a better worker, mom, wife and friend because of this. If you are in austin, Lauren Hurst is one of the very best acupuncturists and nutritionists I know. Check out her tag line alone: “i believe we all deserve to feel our best and live a life filled with vitality.” My friend Ashley Beckman is in LA and is an amazing acupuncturist and Chinese medicine doctor. She offers online programs as well as online consultations.
Another thing to consider is proactive therapy, or reactive, if that is where you are in life. We all need a sounding person and somebody encouraging us to be the best version of ourselves. If you find a good therapist, they will coach you on how to process your thoughts and your worries and guide you on how to get through your challenges and focus on the positives. Don’t go to somebody that is just going to listen to everything that is bad in your life. It will make you a better friend, spouse and parent as well because rather than going to them with problems, you will start to go to them with the amazing things you are working on to be the best version of you…for yourself and for them!
So taking this back to you, you can actually reduce your stress in a demanding job by taking time away from it to care for yourself. You will be more successful and reduce the stress, exhaustion and impact to your personal life. It does however take a new way of thinking and creating new more effective habits.
I read an article this morning that referred to some of the problems when work stress builds up – executives get burnt and have to take a long sabbatical to recharge causing impact on the business…or a business owner hires a housekeeper or nanny yet fills up the time savings with more work rather than family time…. or a business woman cuts back on travel and adds yoga into her routine, yet within a few months is back to traveling and struggling to fit into her jeans again.
This happens way to often where we get burnt out and end up just leaving our careers rather than spending the time now to balance our careers and personal life and take the time for the self-care we need. Start putting on your own oxygen mask first, and you will quickly see your career and personal life start to flourish.