You Have Time for Self-Care
When I talk to people about taking better care of themselves do you know what I hear most often? Laughter, seriously, most people just laugh at the idea of adding more sleep, healthier food, or a little TLC for their bodies into their hectic lives. Once I get past that first reaction and encourage them to use words to voice their objection it sounds a bit like this:"I'm already soooo busy, I can't add something new to my day!""I spend all my time taking care of everyone else, I don't have [...]
When I talk to people about taking better care of themselves do you know what I hear most often? Laughter, seriously, most people just laugh at the idea of adding more sleep, healthier food, or a little TLC for their bodies into their hectic lives. Once I get past that first reaction and encourage them to use words to voice their objection it sounds a bit like this:
"I'm already soooo busy, I can't add something new to my day!"
"I spend all my time taking care of everyone else, I don't have time to take care of myself."
I get that. I have been there and I have said it. It's a powerful argument because it's the prevailing mindset today. Here's what I know, if you continue to use that to avoid taking better care of yourself, you will eventually burn out and get sick. Then who's going to take care of everyone? But this article isn't to convince you of the importance of self-care, I'll be doing plenty of that in future articles. This article is to tell you that you do, in fact, have time to take care of yourself.
One of the reasons it’s so hard to make positive life changes is because it requires you to change your routine. You have a daily and weekly routine that you follow. It might not be an intentional or planned routine, it might not be productive routine, but it is a routine. There is a good reason for this. You start each day with a limited reserve of decision making ability. Every decision you make takes a little bit of that reserve, and some decisions drain more of it than others. Once your decision-making reserve is spent you will base your choices on emotions and habits. Habits are formed to help minimize your use of decision-making reserves. Following habits takes very little energy and is your body’s way of helping you get through the day without spending too much mental and emotional energy on decision making. The problem is, those habits can be somewhat inefficient. These inefficient habits suck your time and energy from you like holes leaking water from a tank.
Do you find yourself saying “It’s already 6 o’clock?!?! Where did the day go?”
I hear that all the time, and I’ve noticed that people who say it never stop to answer the question.
So, if you find yourself asking that, then I encourage you to answer the question yourself. Where does your day go? I’m willing to bet you spend an inordinate amount of time scrolling social media (FB, IG or Pinterest), playing computer games, or watching TV. I get why you do that, I fall into that trap all too easily.
But are those moments of escape stealing the joy from the rest of your life? Probably. Is that TV show giving you your dreams? Is facebook making you money or making you healthier? No, it’s not.
Confessions of a stream-a-holic
As a new mother, I went through a time when I consumed an embarrassing amount of television, especially with the introduction of streaming technology. I tried to cut back, but I couldn’t. It was like expecting an alcoholic to only take “one drink” and then place an entire row of her favorite drinks right in front of her. I knew I had to go cold turkey, so I put myself on a media fast. Here’s what happened.
I became more productive
When I wanted to turn the TV on and knew I couldn’t I would sit on the couch for a minute wondering what to do, then I would go for a walk, or fold laundry, or do the dishes. I had no way to escape the things I was needing to do, so I just did them. I found that they didn’t take as long as I thought they would, and they weren’t as daunting as I was expecting them to be. This was because I was getting little bits done all day long. When I worked in a restaurant we had a rule of “full hands in full hands out” it meant that if you were walking out of the kitchen you needed to have something in your hands, either customer's food (even if it’s not your own customer's) or a drink pitcher to refill drinks. When you were headed back to the kitchen, you could pick up dirty dishes from tables on your way to the kitchen. This kept the kitchen and the dining room from getting backed up. The same idea applied to my daily tasks, I could squeeze in 5min tasks here and there to keep them from building up. Was my house spotless? No, I had two babies, it was a wreck, but it was in a much better place than when I spent all day watching Netflix. I was also able to take short walks, work in my garden, or give myself a 10min rest.
I didn’t miss the shows
It's dangerous to recommend that someone cut back on TV shows or video games. They get so mad. "I can’t quit watching such and such because then I won’t know what happens!!"
Think back to past shows that made you feel that way. I mean way back, think back to E.R. or whatever you watched that long ago. Do you think about those people anymore? Probably not. Now think about how many shows are out there that have amazing story lines and characters that you aren’t watching, do you feel an emotional loss that you’ve missed out on those stories? Probably not. You can’t possibly follow and be involved in all the great stories on TV.
The same goes with games. You will miss out on great ones no matter how many you play, and when it’s over you will move on to another one. The shows and games are important in the moment, but they will pass into oblivion as soon as a new one comes along. So is it really worth all the time you are giving to it? Are those shows more important than your health and the health of your loved ones?
I realized I would rather have success than know what’s going on in a TV show.
I still watch some TV, and I still go to the movies, but I don’t care if I’m keeping up with every show. I survive if I miss a movie in the theaters and catch it when it comes out on video. Right now I am trying to build a life of financial independence so that I can raise my two boys without the stress of not knowing how I’m going to be able to pay my bills. That's way more important to me than the next season of a TV show or the latest blockbuster hit. I want to be out in the world making friends, having experiences and learning new skills, and I can’t do that if I spend all my free time binge watching Netflix.
I made this list of things I could do with the time it takes to watch multiple TV shows:
- build my business
- learn the piano
- learn a new language (or two or three)
- write a book
- make new friends and see them more than once/month
- work in my garden more
- do more activities with my kids
This is just a short list of things that really really excite me, and I’ve realized I have plenty of time, with time leftover, for all of them if I don't spend as much time on screens, and be intentional with my time.
The first step is to break yourself of the screens, once you've done that you can learn how to make the best use of your new time. So, how do you break yourself from screens?
I encourage an all-out media fast
"Whaaattt!!?!?!?!? Melissa, you're crazy!!"
That's the kindest and most child-friendly thing I imagine being said to me after that statement. You can't just cut back, because once you start one episode, play one level, or check social media "real quick" you will get sucked in, that's just human nature. You have to stop at the source.
Tips for Success:
- Have a list of things to do instead when you're itching for some screen time. Put small self-care practices (find some ideas on this article
), or little chores on the list.
- Leave the room. Go outside or put your phone in a drawer to keep it out of sight, or leave and go to a coffee shop or park.
- Get an accountability partner. Make sure it's someone who will be supportive and keep you on track. (join my Just For Today
Facebook group and let us support and encourage you)
- Keep a list of things you can do if you aren't giving all your time to screens to remind you why you're doing this.
- Journal your progress. It will help to have a record of the positive effects.
- Be patient and forgiving with yourself. Changing habits is hard work, if you slip and have a screen binge day, just start over the next day. Remind yourself why this important and keep at it.
- Use the Self-Care Essentials guide to maximize your chances of success. (don't have that yet? You can get it here
I can already hear your objections, so I'll answer some of them here:
- "I need social media and email for work." Fair enough, put strict boundaries around your time on both. Write down what time you'll get on, exactly what you'll do while there (and why) and what time you'll get off. Then hold yourself to that standard (an accountability partner is super helpful here).
- "But I'll miss important episodes of my show!" record it and catch up, this doesn't have to be forever. If you can't record, see if a supportive friend will. You don't have to worry about spoilers because you won't be scrolling Facebook anyway (see what I did there?)
- "All my friendships are built around the games/TV shows we watch." My brother and I speak in movie quote, it's fun. I get not wanting to leave your tribe, and I would like to leave you with a few questions.
- Is your current lifestyle bringing you happiness, health and success?
- Do your friends want you to be happy, healthy and successful?
- You see, you get to decide what you want. If you are okay where you are, then disregard this entire article. If you want to be healthier, have more energy, and experience more in life, all without burning out and becoming sick, then you have to make changes in your life.
- If your friends love you and want those things for you, then they'll stick with you. If they don't want you to have a life you love, then maybe it's time to find people who do.
I realize I just got a bit harsh. I promise you this, I will not sugar coat or dilute truth. I have been stuck, and in pain. I have felt the heartache of feeling like my life is out of control and will never get better. It is a horrible place to be and I will never give you advice that will keep you stuck in that place. And the thing is, sometimes we have to take a hard look at our habits and routines if we want to get out of a bad rut.
Self-Care is essential to a healthy, vibrant life. You cannot avoid that. I want you to be able to start loving and caring for yourself and I know all to well the obstacles that stop people from doing it. It is my intention to shine a light on those obstacles, name them for what they are, and tell you how to overcome them.
The time and energy suck of TV, video games and social media is an enemy that will keep you stuck. So, if you find yourself wanting better, but constantly complaining that you don't have time, do a 2 week media fast and see what you discover. If you get to the end and decide I'm full of it, then you can happily binge your heart out and I will hold no ill-will towards you for it.
I'm willing to bet that won't be the case for most of the people reading this blog.
I want you to have all the support you need in building your self-care lifestyle, so please take advantage of these resources:
- The Just For Today
Facebook group. We are a group of people who are learning how to care for and love ourselves so we can better care for and love the people in our lives. We support each other wherever we are in learning self-care and self-love.
- Self-Care Essentials
guide; a step-by-step, nuts and bolts guide to building a consistent lifestyle of self-care so you can have the health and energy to live a life you love.
- Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments you have on this topic, self-care, or skincare.