I’ve recently had a very poignant lesson regarding the importance of maintaining my self-care when dealing with an above average number of ‘demands’ in my life. Where I would normally remain connected to my body and feel into what I need to do for myself, I instead did the complete opposite and listened to the anxiousness that was causing me to feel stressed because it seemed to have a much louder chatter than my self-care voice.
Five months ago, my husband and I bought our gorgeous new home. Moving into a new house is in itself a big enough challenge to grapple with however there were some renovations required in the new home, which we estimated would take about 3 to 4 weeks. The reality however turned out to be an unfolding process that took 4 months.
In hindsight, if I’d not had an expectation that we’d have the work finished in just a few weeks and therefore allowed myself the space to complete it over the ensuing months, I’d probably have been more relaxed and not felt so overwhelmed. Unfortunately, the sense of overwhelm grabbed me, mainly because I had this ‘picture’ that I’d be back at work by a certain date, so I started to drive myself to get it all completed – and there was my undoing.
From the outset of the renovation process I had a constant low-level anxiousness running in my body, which resulted in me assuming I didn’t have the time to properly care for myself. I’d get to the end of the day exhausted, fall into bed and not have those precious self-loving moments with myself like massaging my feet with cream before sleep. That level of self-nurturing ceased to be on my radar. I became completely focused on the completion of the renovations so that ‘I could get on with my life’ rather than adhering to the truth, which was that this process of moving into our new home WAS part of my life.
Instead of staying in my normal rhythm, and having my usual walk with my husband, I went headlong into my day without breakfast, grabbed a snack at the kitchen bench for lunch and then dinner would always be something that was quick and easy to prepare. By then I’d be ravenous so I’d eat too much and, even though we love the occasional roast lamb or a curry, we found ourselves eating these types of meals all the time because I could quickly throw them together and have them cook as we both worked late into the day. This meant that our evening meal would most likely not have been as nourishing as usual because I wasn’t taking the time to prepare it lovingly, and also because we were eating quite heavy food at night over an extended period, which affected our ability to sleep and rest well.
Reflecting on this situation now I realise it was a nutty thing to do to myself and because it always seemed like we were near completion, I could see the end in sight so was saying to myself, “Ah almost finished, I’ll keep going, just a couple more days to get this done and then I can rest”. But then something else would suddenly show itself that needed our attention and off I’d go again into feeling stressed and further pushing myself. After a couple of months of this I started to feel very tired. My vitality had dropped to a point where I found it hard to get out of bed each morning, I had lots of aches and pains in my body that I’d not experienced before. What really concerned me was that I’d noticed the strength in my body had gone. If I was doing something that required me to squat or sit on the floor, I was unable to get myself up off the floor unless I had something close by I could drag myself up on and even then it was a painful and troubling exercise.
At first, I ignored these warning signs and adopted the approach of “I’ve too much to do so just get on with it”, however I began to notice unwelcome thoughts ‘harassing’ me about getting old. At this time my husband commented that my self-talk was negative, that I was seeing myself suddenly as ‘old’ and the days of my youthful vitality had gone, and I had to accept that my health was declining. Of course, we all age and I’m very accepting of this natural and very beautiful cycle of life’s ebb and flow, however this situation was showing me that I’d momentarily stepped out of life’s natural rhythm.
Those thoughts were a wake-up call and I was soon able to reconcile with myself that my health was far more important than any job I had to do and so I thought “Enough!! Nothing is worth doing this to myself!” and within 3 or 4 weeks of feeling more ‘settled’ in myself, eating well and enjoying my daily walks again, I began to feel heaps better. I resumed the self-care and soon my vitality was back and the fresh face looking back at me in the mirror was a welcome sight after the tired and drawn face that had been peering back at me just a few weeks before. I feel amazing again. I no longer need to drag myself up off the floor, and now effortlessly stand up on my legs from the squat or sitting position.
This short-lived experience was a big OOOPS! It has allowed a deeper understanding, in that, though I’m generally good at listening to my body’s inner voice, I had to admit that there had been a tendency to sometimes override those inner impulses, which created a hardness rather than the ‘surrendered’ body. When I stay really present, don’t override and instead observe those impulses, it allows space for an ever deepening and more nurturing connection with myself.
Lynne P., Australia
If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read:
Self-Care – Nurturing and Loving Your Body