What have you done to take care of yourself today?
In a world that seems to never sleep it can be a challenge to hit the pause button and take notice of ourselves. It’s an odd paradox that the person we spend the most time with (our self) is the one who often gets the least of our quality time and focus.
Adding to that paradox is another challenge that makes this all the more difficult. When we are dealing with the most stress we need the most self-care, and yet under stress we feel like we have less time and capacity for self-care. We may have more demands placed on our time and attention. We may be much more outwardly focused and not as self-reflective.
I think you’re seeing the overlapping “hard” here. I hope it gives you pause, as well as some compassion for yourself, if your answer to that question I asked at the beginning, “What have you done to take care of yourself today?” wasn’t quite the answer you would like it to be.
Now, during COVID-19, we are all encountering more stress, and feeling the fatigue of so much change happening so quickly.
There is the stress that you are aware of: losing work, financial insecurity, fear for your health and that of your loved ones, full-time child caretaking with schools being closed… and the list goes on.
We are all also encountering stress that is not our own, or that we are unaware is impacting us. Perhaps we are not feeling financially insecure, but our friends are and we are absorbing some of that fear. We may not be fearful for our own health, but we are hearing about that fear every time we turn on a device or walk out in the world.
While I do not know your particular reality, I would imagine that there may be some struggle to “find the time” for the pause you need to assess how you are doing and what you are doing to take care of yourself.
For some, this reflection and assessment may be easier or at least feel more doable. For others, it may seem like a “nice to do” or even an “I may have time for that in a few months… or never.”
I am going to boldly and without any hedging say to you now: You don’t have time NOT to do this.
Not placing self-care as Queen (or King if that works better for you) in your life is a sure recipe for burnout, resentment, illness, dis-ease and disease, harmed or broken relationships, and more pain and hardship.
I want to come back to the truth that I do not know your particular reality, so I do not know what your full-time constraints are in this moment and just how much stress is in your life. While it may feel hard or impossible to find some self-care time right now it’s something you must do.
If you have been low on the self-care spectrum for some time now, please know that while I am not trying to scare you, I am being honest when I tell you something is going to break. I don’t want it to be you. And you don’t want it to be you, either. Nor do those who love and care about you.
You may need to start with “stealing” five minutes in your morning to meditate. That is a start and a great one. From there you can build, but you must begin.
If you already do quite well with self-care, it is still a good idea to take some time to reflect on if you are getting enough self-care right now. What you did prior to COVID-19 may not be enough self-care for you now, because the stress is different and higher. The more stress we have in our lives, the more self-care we need.
No matter where you are now on that spectrum of self-care, I encourage you to ask yourself:
What more can I do to take care of myself during this time?
When you have your answer, make it happen.
Treat self-care as queen and you will see the positive ripples throughout your life.