4 Practical Changes I’m Making in May (and 1 Fluffy One)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

So April was a little stressy.

I had a lot on, and I neglected to do that thing that I used to call “looking after yourself” but these days we call “self care”.

I actually quite like the term “self care”. Looking after yourself sounds a little bit “Hey, it’s all about ME, ME, ME”. Where as self care sounds a bit kinder and little less selfish. It’s about showing yourself some love, and treating yourself as you would treat others. We often talk about treating others as we would wish to be treated, but sometimes we really ought to treat ourselves that way too.

It’s easy when we’re busy to forget that we are not machines, that we need downtime, proper downtime. Actually, now I come to think about it, even machines need downtime.

“Down time” means something different for everyone. Some people can apparently deal with being with people 19 hours a day and then having 5 hours sleep.

I can’t.

I need to build some quiet time in to my day. I need enough sleep, and I need time where I just sit and do nothing. Without that quiet time my brain feels fuzzy. When I was little I used to describe it as feeling like there was a screwed up piece of paper in my head. When I relaxed I could feel that paper smoothing out, like it had been ironed.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to DO ALL THE THINGS. Make money, clean the house, help run my Roller Derby league, go to the gym and be all athletic, plan the online shop, manage the budget, be organised, blah, blah, blah and then my days end up starting at 9am with an intense gym session and finishing at 9pm by which time my eyes have gone blurry from staring at the laptop then I eat dinner and go to bed.

At the moment I feel run down and exhausted, so I hereby announce some small changes that I’m planning to make in May that I’m hoping will make a huge difference to my day.

Drink more water

If it was anyone else who told me that they were too busy today to even walk downstairs to the kitchen and get themselves a bloody glass of water I would raise my inner sceptical eyebrow and then tell them that it was important to make time to look after themselves.

But yeah, there have been days recently where I have glued myself to my laptop so long that I haven’t even had a drink, no wonder I’m tired and my eyes are fuzzy,

From now on if there is no glass of water (or herbal tea, or squash, or basically some kind of liquid I can drink) on my desk I will go and get one.

*JUST REALISED THERE ISN’T ONE NOW. BRB*

I’m totally, definitely going to drink at least 4 pint glasses of water a day. Hydration is very important you know.

Not working past 7pm

I already broke this rule yesterday, but to be fair I also impulsively went out for lunch which cut over an hour out of my day that I should have been working.

HOWEVER. From this day forward I, Retro Chick, pledge to be away from my desk by 7pm regardless of what else I have done during my day.

Working after 7pm either doesn’t give me enough time to wind down after work and my brain is busy and I sleep badly, or means I end up going to bed late and not getting enough sleep.

This is bad.

I need my sleep. I am not a 4 hours a night kinda gal, more a 10 hours a night kinda gal and I’m pretty sure most of what I do after 7pm is probably rubbish anyway.

Again, if it was someone else told me they were sat at their laptop working till 8 or 9pm every night I would be very cross with them for not looking after themselves properly. Tut.

Eating lunch away from my desk

I’m not going to take an hours lunch break to watch the ducks like when I used to work in an office. I plan my days differently now I’m self employed and I basically use what would be my lunch break to go to the gym, or sleep. These last few weeks, though, I have been walking down to the kitchen, making a wrap for lunch and then eating it while walking back upstairs and sitting back at my desk.

I haven’t even bothered with a plate. I’ve basically been viewing lunch as an inconvenience that I need to stop my stomach growling and that’s not really looking after yourself, is it?

So, I will start putting my lunch on a plate, and sitting in another room in the house while I eat it. It only takes 10 minutes, I’m definitely not so busy and important that I can’t spare 10 minutes to eat lunch.

Meditation

I’ve spoken about meditation before. Once I got past the idea that meditation somehow involved robes and those stupid little finger cymbals I realised that it was one of the most amazing things EVAH. Who knew that spending 10 minutes sitting still and breathing could make you feel like you’d had about 10 hours sleep? Meditation calms my mind, relaxes my body, and helps me focus. I’ve used it before Roller Derby games, to help me sleep and start my day.

Lately, though I’ve been all like “I JUST DON’T HAVE THE TIME!”. Srsly, I totally do. See “lunch”. So in May I plan to make time to spend that 10 minutes sitting and breathing.

It’s important.

Positive self talk

Ok, this is the fluffy one. Drinking water, leaving my desk before 7pm, eating my lunch off a plate and meditating, they’re all things I can DO. This last one is more an ongoing attitude shift, but it’s worth considering.

I’ve been working on this for Roller Derby, and I’ve realised that I need to apply it to all areas of my life. Not least because the more I practise it elsewhere the more likely I am to remember not to be mean to myself at Derby practice.

If I heard you telling yourself that you were a total failure and that the fact you hadn’t achieved everything you’d planned meant you should just give up and were, in fact, a terrible person then I would sit you down and give you a good talking to. But I’m somehow happy to tell myself this stuff every day.

If it were you I would tell you that sometimes we just need to take a different perspective on things and step back. Or sleep on it and try again tomorrow.

If it were you I would tell you that your worth as a person isn’t linked to how many followers you have on Instagram, your dress size, how much money you make, how clean your kitchen is, or any of the other metrics of “success” we use to beat ourselves up with.

So I’m going to start telling myself that as well. For a brief moment I considered trying one of those positive affirmation things. You know, when you look in the mirror and say “You are a strong and confident woman”, but then I decided that was just a step too far and I’m not sure I could deal with being that person. So instead I’m just going to reframe my thinking. If I catch myself saying the kind of mean things in my head that I wouldn’t say to someone else I’m going to sit myself down and give myself a darn good talking to. Yeah, consider yourself TOLD brain.

So, that’s my 4 practical changes, and 1 fluffy one, that I’m going to make in May.

What things do you do to make sure you look after yourself?

 

What do you think?

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7 Responses
  • jeni
    May 3, 2017

    Oh chick this post completely chimed with me. At the moment i’m right in the middle of feeling like this; as an example yesterday I got home from work, did the washing up then headed to the gym, got home and ate then found myself finishing the next 2 days healthy lunch at 10pm. 10pm!! Then this morning I was thinking – oh dear, this weekend I really need to clean the whole house since last two weekends have revolved around family.
    Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break I guess. I like the idea of your changes and have to agree that most of the time you are way harder on yourself than you would be on a friend or colleague. Two of the changes I want to make is stop telling myself I have no time for reading and use some of the rubbish tv time for something I’d really enjoy. And like you, to get more sleep.
    Fingers crossed both of us are successful and reap the benefits. Go us! x

    • Gemma
      May 3, 2017

      Good luck! Yes, I’m guilty of thinking I have no time for reading but watching TV. Equally though I do enjoy a bit of really rubbish TV!

  • Suzanne
    May 3, 2017

    I need to do follow your lead…especially when it comes to the self talk. We are all our own worst enemies it seems.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  • Ellie O
    May 4, 2017

    Oh my gosh. I could have written this! Apart from the self employed bit.

    I had this big idea in my head that I was going to restart in May, which in my deluded and perfectionist brain meant that I would do a months worth of things on my to-do list on May 1st and then be perfect from then on in.

    Instead, I’m trying to make little changes – like listing 5 positive things at the end of each day. One of the positive things I listed this week was “realising that I’m not going to catch up on everything all at once and being ok with that”. Poco a poco, and all that jazz.

    Thank you for sharing this and showing that we’re not alone, and good luck with your self care changes!

    Ellie

    http://www.shoestringthreads.com

  • Monica
    May 5, 2017

    Very important stuff! I also have problems with working 8 hours a day. Mostly I just spend whole awake time behind the screen. I should also think about working less. Meditation and positive self talk are also very good tools to maintain good mental health. I hope you stick with those resolutions because it’s certainly worth the effort 😉

    Mon // Microsoft Dynamics Partners

  • Alexandra
    May 6, 2017

    Thank you for writing this post! I’ve been looking for ways to take care of myself this summer and stop the negative self-talk. Sometimes no one can be harder on ourselves than we are…and that’s not OK!

  • Rebecca
    May 6, 2017

    What a great post, and well done for recognising the need to give yourself the time for self care. Last year I was talking with a friend about everything that was going on and how I was struggling and she said “be kind to yourself”. It really stuck with me. She pointed out that the horrible voice in my head with all the negative shouty thoughts is not what a friend would say in any of those situation. When you hear that voice, step back and think about how your best friend would respond instead. Take the time to be kind to yourself. It’s made a world of difference.

    Just before that conversation I really damaged my back as a result of stress and pushing myself too hard. I spent weeks in osteo appointments and struggling at work (It’s a physical job) and then this year I discovered yoga videos online! No one in a class judging me for my shape or inflexibility or red face, just me on the mat in the living room (with a slightly bemused cat!). I can’t believe the difference it’s made, and I’m forcing myself to do some everyday, even if it’s just ten minutes of breathing and a resting pose. It’s made such a positive impact both physically and mentally. A real revelation!

    So yes! I heartily agree now with taking time for yourself, and I’ll be one of the ones cheering on your new changes!