This week I am going to explore a topic very close to my heart. That is, how being busy has almost become like a badge of honour, in many situations. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, stress is the biggest epidemic of the 21st century. No-one ever wants to feel stressed—stress and overwhelm can sneak up on you incrementally as I found out first-hand!
When I was in my late 20’s, I ran my first business. It was a design business and we had many corporate and government clients with lots of deadlines. I prided myself on my ability to hold it all together, providing high-quality work, within tight timeframes. We had a reasonable team of people and it was super busy nearly all the time and as a result, I worked many, many late nights. After a few years of this type of approach to my business, I found myself burnt out and at home in bed for three weeks with glandular fever.
This turn of events was a major wake-up call for me, resulting in me making positive lifestyle changes around eating nutritious food and exercising more regularly.
Years later when studying kinesiology, one of my first lessons was to slow down. I discovered that over time, it is possible to incrementally speed up life to meet increasing demands, until one day our new normal is rushing, most of the time. We can be rushing so much, that we are not enjoying the life we are living. When we slow down to be in tune with the natural rhythm of life, we can enjoy events as they occur in the moment, and our body relaxes and we feel better.
In the work I do now, it is common to hear, particularly of women, putting themselves last for the sake of the family, running the household and work commitments. What I discovered the hard way, as I have shared with you, that unless I practice self-care, I am unable to be there for others in the way I would like.
Women are often conditioned to believe that putting themselves first is selfish when actually it is essential when it comes to being the best that we can be. When on board an airplane, in case of an emergency, a parent is instructed to put on their oxygen first, so they can be there to help their child in the best way. I call this the “Mother Teresa” principal—who also found out through working herself into an exhausted state, in the early days of her career—that she needed to look after herself first, so she could truly help others and fulfill her life’s purpose.
My top self-care tips are:
- Treat yourself like you would your best friend
- Learn how to say no, if it’s not right for you, it’s unlikely to be right for others
- Become aware of your self-talk and speak to yourself kindly
- Eat nutritious delicious food to fuel and sustain your energy levels
- Exercise regularly to maintain your bodies strength and flexibility—more oxygen also flows to your brain during exercise and this helps to reduce stress levels
- Create spaces in your life to rest, recuperate and just be
- ALWAYS see yourself as valuable and worthy
When you take care of yourself—so that feeling happy, centred and calm is your natural state—you will find that the energy you radiate is infectious, positively impacting the rest of your life.