The Power of Time For You
When did you last take some time out for yourself? I mean really just for you – no phone, no reading over minutes from work, not sat at the computer checking emails… but relaxing, unwinding and nurturing you. We women who do too much often find it difficult to justify taking time out from our busy days to do something for ourselves, unless of course we are being productive or can balance it with ticking another thing off our daily list at the same time! So we keep going, keep striving, pushing, working, heaving, until we finally get into bed at the end of the day - and even then there’s still so much going on in our heads that we can’t fall asleep or we toss and turn and journey back and forth to the loo like a yo-yo. Sound familiar?
Working as hard and long as we do juggling projects, managing deadlines, coping with the crises of getting our children into the ‘right’ school is exhausting. Yet we keep striving for perfection and ignore our tiredness, not wanting to feel it through fear that once we become aware, we might not be able to get going again. What we don’t realize is that while we stay hooked in a workaholic loop, our bodies struggle to keep up. Struggle on the outside always means there’s struggle on the inside. Each hurry, flurry and moment spent rushing from one thing to the next causes a rush of adrenaline into our blood stream. When the stress continues our adrenal cortex next secretes cortisol and DHEA hormones to help our bodies to function.
Whenever our brains sense prolonged stress, like staying up all night with a new baby or working until 2am on the computer to complete a report, increased levels of cortisol and DHEA are released. Once we decide to get some rest these hormones begin to decline. The release of cortisol and DHEA is good and healthy whenever it is triggered occasionally, but if we fail to allow ourselves the opportunity to get sufficient rest, repair and rejuvenation our vital organs are unable to replenish themselves and functional abilities begin to diminish. Our adrenal glands literally begin to burn out and the excess amounts of cortisol and DHEA lead to several problems like insomnia, depression, fatigue, mood swings, loss of sex drive, weight gain, recurrent infections, muscle wasting, menstrual disorders, water retention and stomach cramps.
The release of adrenaline, cortisol and DHEA associated with keeping on the go and staying in the stress cycle can be addictive, which is why so many women keep doing too much – time and time again, even after wake up signs like health problems or accidents. So how can we step out from the do, do, do and rush, rush, rush long enough to stop pushing ourselves and allow rejuvenation instead?
Firstly, begin to notice the illusion that we have to keep going, as if we are powerless to our to do lists and have no choice. You always have a choice. Allowing yourself to say no to taking on more responsibilities to cut things out from your life that no longer serve you. To let go of things, people and commitments not contributing to your health, wealth or happiness.
Secondly, by listening to your body. If you have a pain, a headache, a sense of fatigue acknowledge it – not by moaning about it to everyone around you, but by pausing for long enough to work out what it could be trying to tell you. Before you pop a pill to ignore it, question whether it is some rest that you need instead.
Thirdly, by giving yourself permission to take 20 minutes out and settle yourself quietly. Release any tension held in your body. Focus on your breathing and allow your thoughts to take a holiday while you visualize yourself lying on a beach in the Bahamas or swimming in the sea. After taking a break you are likely to notice that you feel much better and are able to return to whatever you were pushing yourself at with clearer focus, a sense of calm and increased competence.
By taking time out each day to replenish ourselves we connect with the peace at the core of our being, and are able to bring more of true selves to the people with whom we share our experiences of life. The key is to do this little and often. Giving your central nervous system the chance to rest for long enough to recover from the stresses and strains of everyday modern life.
It is also important to pamper yourself with little luxuries that make you feel special. Think how the smell of fresh linen or the sense of a fluffy robe as you step out of the bath lifts your spirits and makes you feel good. How much more relaxed and fun to be around would you be if you had lots of reminders that ‘you’re worth it’ each and every day? From that kind of space it becomes easier to notice when you push too hard, catch yourself and ease of the gas. Treating yourself is good for everyone else too. The relaxed, happy vibe you’ll experience will be felt by those you work with, live with, share the train to work with – and it’s infectious!
Here are my 7 Secrets to Taking Time Out for Self-Care Success:
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