Tag Archives: exhaustion

Decluttering and looking after ourselves

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I have been thinking a lot about happiness lately – along with writing more and being more proactive in my business (Ok, I didn’t go into yoga teaching and therapies to do marketing and accounting, but I do have to accept that they are necessary evils!), taking steps to live a happier and higher-energy life is key for me this year.  It’s so easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by the many demands of life, and before you know it, you can feel less than your best!

Luckily for me, most of the things I teach – and use regularly – are hugely effective at lifting my mood.  Some energetic or relaxing yoga  can work wonders, as can a bit of reflexology, and Jin Shin Jyutsu in its simplest form is really the art of identifying and then balancing the subtle shifts of our moods.  And ultimately, for me, the key to feeling good, day by day, is to take time out for things I enjoy, and to live my life being ME – by my own standards, not anyone else’s. Even when you teach others ways to relax, to energise, to feel brilliant, it can be easy to forget to do this consistently, day by day, moment by moment. Despite my daily meditation and yoga practice, I felt that this year there was even more I could do….more reading, more writing, more looking after myself and earlier nights.  I have been taking a few minutes to light candles and nightlights around my home in the early evening, and have been doing a major decluttering, after reading the amazing The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo. There’s still a way to go, but clothes, books and paperwork have been having a complete sort out – the recycling bin and the charity shops near me have benefitted too!

In Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life,
Arianna Huffington writes of the critical need to reevaluate what we mean by success.  Her moment of realisation came when she collapsed from exhaustion, two years after setting up the Huffington Post.  She writes:

…after my fall, I had to ask myself, Was this what success looked like? Was this the life I wanted? I was working eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, trying to build a business, expand our coverage,and bring in investors. But my life, I realized, was out of control. In terms of the traditional measures of success, which focus on money and power, I was very successful.  But I was not living a successful life by any sane definition of success. I knew something had to radically change. I could not go on that way.

The book goes on to look at the many ways we could redefine success, to include our wellbeing, and making room in our lives for wonder, wisdom and giving to others. So whilst there is nothing wrong in living a ‘successful’ life, in terms of status and money, if that is the kind of life that makes us feel fulfilled, we need to make sure we look after ourselves as well.

Sometimes it is argued that looking after ourselves is just a form of selfishness.  But I would argue that we are unable to look after others if we do not sometimes put ourselves first.  Yes, as parents we care for our children, as therapists we treat our clients to the very best of our ability, as professionals we do our job the best we can.  But, how can we do this if we are drained, exhausted, and lacking in energy? How can we be our kindest, most loving selves when we are tired and aching and just longing for sleep?  I’m certain I’m not alone in being more empathic when I feel good in myself, rested, vibrant and healthy. Have you ever tried being the perfect parent, partner, friend, employer or employee when you’re feeling rubbish?  With the best intentions in the world, it’s just not going to happen.

So, it’s time for us all to stop feeling that it’s wrong to take a break.  We owe it to ourselves – and everyone else! –  to live life to the full.  To explore our human potential to the limit, rather than trudging along, robot-like, just trying to get through the days.

Taking time out, being the best you can be….those are my keys (for myself, and those I work with!) for this year.  Let me know the steps you’re taking to look after yourself!

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Time for a holiday!

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summer-814679_1280How long is it since you had a holiday?  And how long since you took a holiday before you were exhausted, when you could really enjoy it?

The trouble with holidays seems to be that they don’t come round quickly enough.  So when they finally arrive, we really feel in need of them – whether it’s a totally relaxing, lie-on-the-beach kind of break, a complete change of scene, or an adrenaline-rush activity holiday!  I once heard Caroline Myss talk about how some of us seem to need to justify our need for a break – you know, when you hear someone say, ‘yes, I really needed a holiday, I was so exhausted‘.  As if  apologising for needing to stop working for a while.  Her response was amusing, but dead right – ‘just take a holiday when you’re not exhausted, when you can really enjoy it!’

And how long is the optimum holiday?  Because for many or us, we are so stressed out before we actually go away, that it takes several days to relax and really start to enjoy ourselves.  So we might only really appreciate the last few days, and then, if life back home isn’t really something to look forward to, the last bit of the holiday can be spent dreading the amount of work which will be awaiting our return!  That’s if we haven’t succumbed to checking emails and making calls during our holiday, that is!

So, if holidays don’t come around soon enough, and then we don’t fully relax and enjoy them when they do, what is the answer?  Well, for me, it’s building regular breaks, or mini-holidays, into every week, and into every day. If I’ve had a busy week, or lots of stress, or not enough sleep – I stop and acknowedge that it’s time to take care of myself.  I might have an early night and read a favourite book, or I might give myself the luxury of an afternoon off to create something lovely (like a scrummy cake, perhaps!)  When my son burnt his hand a few weeks ago, and we took him to A&E that evening, and then had an early start to the specialist hospital the next morning, I had very little sleep, and, as you would imagine, plenty of stress.  I was a bit of an emotional wreck for 2 or 3 days, to be honest.  So when he went back to school, with reminders to be careful with his hand,  not to get the dressing wet, and so on, I  could have just worried about him all day long until  he got back home (that would have been so easy to do –  and of course I did think about him all through the day). I could have spent the day making up for missed time at work, catching up on all those emails, coursework and everything else that had been put on hold.  And I did, for part of the day.  But what I really, really needed was to stop, to take time out, and to calm my frazzled mind.  I had managed some meditation each day, just a little bit, and that had helped. But now I needed just to do something I would enjoy, and that would help me get back to normality.  So I got on with a sewing project, just for a couple of hours, something calm, peaceful and just for me.  I did a bit of yoga, and minded my breath.  I ate healthily, and generally took time out for myself.

And I didn’t feel guilty.  Because I knew I needed it, and that it would help me to cope with the hospital visits yet to come, and the support I still needed to give. It would help me to come back to my calmer, better self.  It would help me to feel well (in the true sense of the word, rather than just the absence of a specific illness).

I truly believe that everyone knows, deep down, when they need to have a break.  It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.  It just needs to be at the time that they need it. If you hear yourself proudly telling people how late you stayed at work, how many hours of ironing you did, or how little sleep you had, then your ego is far too tied up in achieving and doing.  So many stresses and illnesses can start this way. It’s time to look after yourself before illness makes enforced rest inevitable.  When you’re too ill to enjoy it.  Take time now, each week, each day, to do something positive for your own wellbeing.