Over the years, life has thrown me many loops. Some of these loops I’ve allowed myself to get tangled up in. When that happens, the first priority that easily falls away is the importance of taking care of myself the way I know I need to.
Quiet time for myself, massages, exercise, and even my artwork is a form of self-care. I quickly realized that forgetting to prioritize these important things wasn’t serving me, my family or those around me. In order for me to be the best version of myself and achieve contentment, I knew something needed to change.
My first step was setting aside one hour a week, even if meant splitting 30 minutes one day and 30 minutes another day, to “date” myself. I usually went to a coffee shop for a drink, read a book, sketched, or met a loved one for conversation. This allowed me some quiet time to check in with myself uninterrupted. As I began to practice this habit each week, I started to feel more clarity in many areas of my life. I felt more grounded to go forth to my next activity of the day.
I decided after a few of these dates that I also needed to assess what I needed physically. My muscles were achy from my work as a massage therapist, from being a mom and from living an active lifestyle. At the time, I had one toddler–that in itself is taxing! I began scheduling two massages a month and also prioritizing a regular yoga practice.
Initially, I struggled with the “mom” guilt that I was taking this “me” time when I could be at home with my kids. But the truth is, I came to find I was more patient, calm and listened better when I took this time to care for myself.
I started my own method of setting aside money in an envelope so I was able to take this time for myself. Some weeks it was just a few dollars for coffee, and other weeks, I was able to add a little more to my massage fund. At times, I would even take my lunch to a park to sketch for free. I began to see the benefit it added to my life to take simple one hour “dates” of what I needed to do for me. I was able to bring back balance and recharge–all while working it into a budget!
We added two more kids over a span of ten years to our family. Some days life is nothing short of crazy! But when the crazy sets in, I take a deep breath and see what I can fit in for me between work and family activities. This helps me gain a different perspective on the week.
This cycle of feeling better developed into a regular yoga practice where I am able to connect with other adults who come to my mat for just one hour a day. This steady yoga practice brings a sense of calm and a lasting effect towards the people I interact with at work or home.
I continue to set up these one hour dates of sketching, reading, massages, or yoga at the beginning of each week. Whatever I feel I need, I block the time off. It has been a practice over the years of finding the right balance–some weeks are better than others. I have learned that caring for myself rounds and balances me as a person. It allows so many areas of my life to have the best of me and be aligned with my core values.
Sure, some weeks the scale tips towards work or family, and some weeks it tips more towards my self-care. I choose to take it in stride. So when life inevitably throws me loops, I notice that I don’t fall down as hard. It is because I have this padding of a self-care routine in place. The time set aside is never a waste. I believe it produces a more capable and calm person to tackle the world.
How are you dealing with life’s loops?
Are you taking time to date yourself?
Get out a piece of paper, calendar or that grocery list you have in the bottom of your bag and check in with yourself.
What do you need?
How can you make it happen?
Schedule 30 minutes for your self-care this week and see how you feel.
Angie Smith is a graduate of Baltimore School of Massage and has been practicing massage therapy since 2005 in the Lancaster area. Her goal for each person that she serves is to bring mind and body balance by using her intuitive nature and learned knowledge of anatomy and physiology. She holds a high standard of personal self-care which helps her clients learn by example. You can expect to see Angie teaching yoga, leading art workshops in our learning space, and helping clients at Immerse to make a deeper mind and body connection that is balanced.