March 9, 2011

The Fine Line Between Self-Care and Sloth

If I told you I had a stressful week so I spent Saturday morning doing restorative yoga, having a nice bath, and reading in bed with some tea, you would probably say something along the lines of  "That's great, it's good you're listening to your body". However, if I told you I spent the whole weekend laying on the couch, ordering pizza, watching movies, and taking approximately 7 naps....would you still respond the same way?  It's a fine line between self-care and just being sluggish.

If you grew up in the 80's, you may remember a world that glamorized the workaholic. Movies like "Working Girl" and "Wallstreet" made it chic to be running on coffee and will power alone. Eventually we came to terms with the fact that it's not sustainable. Now we focus on balance. Enjoying your life, doing work you love, staying active and healthy, and especially nurturing yourself. However, self-care can be hard to manage. If you're used to being a body in motion slowing down is hard. Bodies in motion stay in motion, and more dreadfully, bodies at rest stay at rest. We're then faced with concerns. What if I can't recover from some down-time? What if that becomes the norm?

I recognize this fear whole-heartedly. It's happened to me. I have had my quiet nurturing Saturday morning end up expanding throughout the day, then Sunday morning, then Sunday night and by Monday, it's hard to get back on track. I have learned a few things managing self-care so my times of awareness and recharging are still times I thankful for rather times that I remember as lazy or unproductive.

Here are a few tips to help you honor your need to tend to yourself while maintaining balance:
  • Understand why you need some self-care time: If you're growing tired of the same old weekly routine then maybe your time of nurture is trying something new to you. Something that gets you out of the rut. If you're constantly "on" and need some time to detach, then make it real. Turn off the phone, don't check the email, enjoy your solo time.
  • Create a container of time and space: Make a plan of how you will indulge and stick to it. It may be as simple as a hot bath or it may be a whole weekend or vacation. However get a solid idea in your mind what that container looks like. When you've seen the plan through move forward.  
  • Nurturing doesn't have to mean stagnate. For some nurturing will be taking time to hit a favorite hiking trail or a bike path you never get to use. It could be a extra long walk with your dog or playing with a niece or nephew.
  • Laughter is nurturing. You don't have to be alone to warm your soul and rest. Get together with the friends that you can completely let your guard down around and laugh, a lot.

I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or in the field of mental health. However, I am a woman who has worked to manage my own depression for almost 20 years. I know how self-care can quickly turn into a downward spiral if you suffer from depression. Even if you don't experience depression there are times where downtime can throw you off your game if you're in training or have other responsibilities.

These are techniques I use to keep that time precious for me and able to return to my life recharged and present. If you have other tips please comment.

Love Each Day


Katie said...

nail -> head

beautiful, Tali! I flirt with this line on a regular basis. I use "self care" as an excuse to be lazy. I like the idea of really being introspective and trying to understand how to best spend down time in a healthy way. I'm generally against rewarding myself with food; it creates bad habits. But every once in a while, I'll give myself a "rest day" complete with bad foods, and regret it later!

Semi-true torystellar said...

Alas I fell into the trap of being a body at rest that remains at rest. However, the move has gotten us started creating some better habits to get our bodies in motion.

We just have to keep perspective. Excellent post!

Lisa said...

Nice. :)

Tali said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments. Sometimes when I write these I think they're too personal, not as though I am unveiling too much, but just too specific to me. It's not to know the posts are more universal than I thought.