When the alarm went off this morning I was already weary. I am at the worst point of my period and I feel distracted and exhausted. My body is suffering, I have not slept well, and my belly aches. My mind is unable to settle, jumping from one thing to another. I am feeling low; a combination of hormones, lack of adult conversation and the rain that has fallen steadily all week.
My first response is to attend to the long list of jobs that lies ahead of me today. I’ve got writing projects that need attention, laundry to do, and meals to plan. I tell myself to ‘buck up’, to stop feeling sorry for myself. I reprimand myself and try and force myself into action, feeling sluggish and frustrated. Where has my energy and focus disappeared to?
The daily battle
Just for a minute I stop and I think about taking a different approach. I decide to listen to my body and my mind rather than rushing on with the to-do list, and decide it will be me who sets the agenda and the pace today. I go downstairs and look out of the patio doors at my garden. It has stopped raining briefly.
Before the shoulds, oughts and musts make me think better of it, I pull on my wellies and grab my secateurs.
I push open the back door and wander in the garden. I have no plan or list of priorities. Today there is no to-do list in the garden. Looking at the droplets of water collected on leaves and petals, I listen to the earth squelching beneath my feet. I take in the beauty of the remaining flowers, deadhead the dahlias and pick some to bring indoors. Eating the few remaining raspberries straight from the bush, I run my hand through the lavender to release its fragrance.
I take my time. Half an hour later I am back indoors. As I shut the door the rain starts again. I make tea.
So what? Well… this is everything actually. The whole of what I have been learning in the past few years condensed into a 45 minute experience. It would have been so easy to ignore how I felt this morning and so often this is exactly what I do: I push past my feelings and the promptings of my mind and body. I listen to the shoulds and oughts and musts. Succumb to the pressure to be efficient and productive. I bow to the need to achieve and tick things off my list.
I silenced the voice
But not today. Today I made a good choice. Remembering what I have been learning, I reminded myself I am not a machine, stopped and considered my needs for a few moments. I silenced the voice that would tell me I don’t deserve to think about myself, that it is an indulgence and selfish to behave like this. I tuned into the internal wisdom of my body and listened to its promptings urging me to slow down, to stop and just be for a few minutes.
And, aside from the fact that this was a nice thing to do, this is what this choice has afforded me:
The headache that was threatening has abated.
I feel re-connected with myself and the world again.
I’ve had a chance to think about my day and set more realistic expectations for myself.
I have beautiful flowers in my house that will make me smile for days to come.
I am approaching my work with a new resolve and sense of calm.
I’ve taken back control of my day.
I have decided to look after me. To love myself first.
I know life is busy, and sometimes a wander in the garden first thing is not possible. I get it.
Sometimes the work is not just looming but has to be done – and straight away. The children have to be taken to school, there are people who need feeding, an email that has to be answered immediately, a meeting for which we must not be late. But at some point in the day carve out a few moments to care for yourself. Prioritise yourself. No one will do it for you.
You are worthy
Stop and listen to a beautiful piece of music in your lunch hour.
Pick a flower and put it on your desk.
Don’t bolt your food down, eat it with care, paying attention to the textures and tastes.
Light a candle as you prepare dinner.
Stop now, in the hurly burly, and take a moment to decide how and when you are going to do this.
Inhale. Exhale. Make a plan.
I can assure you, it will be a decision you will not regret.
If you regularly forget to care for yourself, I have created a meditation you can read whenever you need reminding. Sign up here and I will email it to you. Print it out and stick it up by your desk or on your mirror to see first thing in the morning. Keep it in your bag and pull it out at lunch or before you pick the kids up.
You are worthy of investment too.