I wrote this blog a while back during sunnier, warmer days (no swimming holes for me during a frosty Ontario winter!) but the underlying message is even more appropriate during the holiday season. I hope this blog offers you a reminder of the importance of self-care.
I woke up the other morning after a busy weekend of cleaning, sanding and staining the deck. I was feeling a little tired and completely overwhelmed. My list for the week was getting longer by the minute and I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get right at that ever-growing list because I had also committed to being at the office that morning. You would think that this would make me stay home for the afternoon to get my list done…but that is not what I decided to do. Instead, I got my work done at the office, came home and did the 2 things on the list that absolutely had to be done that day, and then went to a local swimming hole. A friend of mine was in town and when she lived here, 3 of us friends would get together regularly to check in. Since she was in town only for the day, I wasn’t going to miss this time for us to connect, catch up and laugh. This seems like a counter-intuitive decision to make, and perhaps it is. As a Coach I would probably say something like “Self-care isn’t always bubble baths, sometimes it’s tackling the list”. On this day however, I would have regretted missing my friend. Spending the day with these ladies reminded me to have compassion for myself. It reminded me that the list would get done and if a couple of things were a day late, it was OK. One of the things that didn’t get done was my posting to social media. I post consistently so missing one day is not going to cost me any clients. Some of the pressures I was putting on myself were self-inflicted and had no consequences other than me wanting to get them done. I woke up the following day with the same big list, but I wrote it down and started tackling things one by one, with writing a blog post being the last thing to do on the list. The blog post would be ready to post the following morning at 6 a.m. (as usual), and it was likely a better post than what would have been written if I was still in the space of stressing about everything. Sometimes self-care means a bubble bath, sometimes it means tackling the list, other times it means taking an afternoon with some amazing friends who will remind you to be compassionate with yourself, while you get a little sunburned. The only one that has the answer to which it is, is you! Don’t let yourself or anyone “should” on you. Do what you need in the moment.
Another important aspect of self-care is letting go of the need to measure and track everything. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much as a society we get stuck on measuring things. Our weight, our height, the calories we take in and burn off, how much money we make, how many friends we have on Social Media, how many in life, how many likes on our last post. If you are in business for yourself the list gets longer, and it seems somehow more important because it directly relates to income.
In my efforts to focus on self-care I’ve been walking more. I realized on one of my recent walks that it was the first time in a long time that I was walking for me, just me, no one else and for no other reason. No dog, no fit bit, no concern about burning calories, or how many kilometers or how much time I walked. I just walked. I’m not saying we should never measure because I believe in setting goals, and you can’t tell if you reach your goals if you don’t measure where you start and where you finish. However, think about what things you are measuring – are they helping you or is it causing you more stress? If it’s causing you more stress, think about letting that measurement go. Not only because it takes time to measure and track things – time that can be spent simply doing and living – but more importantly because it can create a mindset that we must always be improving and striving for more. The walk reminded me to just enjoy my life. It became bigger for me when I realized all of the other things I am measuring in life and in business. This week I have made an effort to just enjoy and remember why I do what I do. I love coaching and while running a business can be overwhelming at times, when you take a moment to remember the joy it brings you, the stress of it slips away and those tasks that you don’t love become a little easier.