In the past 4 months, I’ve given myself a lot of space to really work on myself. This may sound like something people say when they’re breaking up with someone, but it’s honestly been one of the best things I’ve done for myself in my very long journey of trying to ‘get better’ (and I can assure you I’m still happily with M!).
At first I didn’t know what to do, or how I could actually help myself.
I spent a good chunk of time getting friendly with my Netflix account, and lounging about the flat. This was nice at first, I think I needed a big break from everything that had been building up at work and in my head. But after a while, I realised nothing would change unless I did something. So, I began figuring out what exactly I should do.
I had many different ideas on how I could ‘change my life’. I subscribed to a bunch of email lists of bloggers and small business owners. I signed up to all those free email courses, or video workshops, to help me stop being the way I am, and start being someone better. My inbox was flooded with emails, blog posts, videos, and worksheets to complete, all promising growth and transformation.
Honestly, it was overwhelming.
I had advice and guidance coming out of my ears. I was drowning under the weight of all these different people telling me different ways to be more than the sum of my parts. I didn’t know where to start, who to believe, or what to do.
I decided I needed to go back to basics. If I wanted to improve my productivity, motivation, habits, and lifestyle I needed to work on the foundations first. I needed to start from the bottom, and work on my sense of self and mental wellbeing before I could go forward. I decided to work on my self-care.
The first thing I had to do was figure out what self-care means to me.
I started reading again, but this time with a bit more focus. I wanted to find out what self-care really meant to people, and look for ideas of what I could do to actually take care of myself. After a bit of reading, I realised that I pretty much knew the things I needed to do, but it was the execution of those things which I had always struggled with. I wanted to look into meditation. I wanted to start exercising. I wanted to develop a frickin’ morning routine that actually worked for me.
The thing that had always tripped me up is that I’d been trying to do too much all at once. I was an expert at giving myself lofty, unrealistic goals, then getting stressed out and overwhelmed when I couldn’t meet them. Instead of trying to change one thing, I tried to change 10.
I was self-sabotaging before I’d given myself a chance to succeed.
Luckily, with the help of an online coach (I’ll write more about this next week!) I was able to start off focusing on just one small part of the puzzle. I decided to begin with meditation. I had always felt that meditation would be helpful to me, the chance to have quiet time away from the noise and the stresses of my brain day-to-day. However, every time I thought about consistently mediating, every single day, for the rest of my life, I got freaked out. She told me to make a plan to show up for just one day. When would I meditate, and how would it fit into my life? The key was to be committed to doing it, and to make effort every day to do the thing. Some days I did it. Some days I didn’t. But I had to change my mindset so missing a day (or a few) didn’t mean total complete failure. This has been the biggest shift for me. I’m a perfectionist, so if I can’t do something perfectly I have a feeling that I’m not good enough, that I’ve failed somehow, and should just give up. At the first sign of resistance, I would fold. I had to really focus on telling myself that it’s ok to slip up.
Not being perfect doesn’t mean I’m not good enough.
It’s been a long process, and I still easily go to that thinking that not doing something I want to means failure, but now I have another voice in my head, which reminds me it doesn’t. That my worth isn’t measured by the things I do or don’t do.
When I started telling myself that, something magical happened. Released of the pressure to be perfect, I felt much more able to actually do the things I wanted to.
I’ve meditated almost every day for the past month and a half.
I’ve begun exercising too. I have a simple morning routine, which I stick to as much as possible, but if I miss something, or skip it for a day or two, it’s ok. I’m using it as a guide, something which I aim to do, but know that sometimes circumstances mean I don’t manage it. Life doesn’t work within strict rules and lines. Life is messy, and unpredictable, and very open to change. I have to be able to change with it, and adapt to the circumstances that are presented to me. The main thing I can really control is how I react to what happens. Now I’m reacting a lot more from a place of compassion, and flexibility, I feel better as I’m being less hard on myself.
From this new standpoint, I’ve been building up my self-care, piece by piece. I am currently working to really embed exercise into my life, the same way I’ve made meditation a key part of my day. I know it will take a bit of time, but that’s ok. I’m on the right path, finally, after years of walking around in circles. The journey is the important part, now that I’m going in the right direction it feels much more positive.
I’ll be sharing my experiences, practical steps, and ideas on how to develop your own self-care journey. If you have any requests for things that I can talk about, let me know in the comments.
What do you do for self-care? Do you feel you’re good at self-care, or is it something you want to work on? Comment below and let’s support each other!
Have a great day wherever you are,