Melissa’s Rap: Tell me if this sounds familiar. You decide to do something good for you (or bad for you, we’re not judging here), and you decide to do it every day. Like exercising, or brushing your hair 100 times or drinking a certain amount of water in a day. And life happens. Or you can’t seem to remember to do it. Or you are exhausted and lifting that hairbrush is just. too. much. work. So, then you think…I really suck at exercisehairbrushingdrinkingwater. And then you just beat yourself up for weeks on end until you quit all together. Yup, admit it. You’ve been there. If you are like me, and have ALL THE PLANS to be organized, healthy and a complete badass, but also can’t remember why you walked into a room at least eight times a day and find your frozen peas in the cupboard with your plates, then the above scenario is your life ad nauseum. If you took our Healthy Habits challenge this past month, this feeling may have shown up front and center for you.
If this is you right now (or all the time), what if you just accept that when you do it is when you do it. And how you do it is ok too. And stop beating yourself up for doing things you want to do. Life is hard enough! Maybe to you, spontaneity is more powerful than routine. Perhaps creating habits stresses you out and you just want to do what feels right in the moment? Guess what? It’s ok. It’s really ok. The key is to know yourself and allow yourself the freedom to just be. Maybe stop trying so hard for a minute and allow yourself to just sit with what’s so. You’ll be amazed at what you discover about yourself.
It has taken me a long time to learn this, and to be clear, I am still a work in progress (cue collective nods from everyone who knows me well). But, I am learning to accept my limitations. I am starting to ask for what I need. I am beginning to say no and, more importantly, not feeling guilty when I do. For much of my life, abandoning my To Do List to take a moment for me inevitably made me feel anxious and incredibly irresponsible. Taking a few hours to watch The Voice with a warm bowl of Singapore Rice Noodles in my lap, two of my guilty pleasures, left me feeling inordinately guilty that I wasn’t doing all the things I “should be doing.” It was exhausting! I couldn’t even relax when I was relaxing! Now, my life has gotten to the point where I am often in fight or flight mode. My health issues are consuming my life currently. I’ve been here before, actually. And, I’ve found, when I reach this point, I am kind of forced to let go. As one of my favorite zen proverbs goes: “Let go or be dragged.” I get to the point where I hit a wall and TV and Chinese food are about all my brain and energy level can manage.
Here is what I’ve discovered: when you give yourself permission to say yes to what you need and no to what doesn’t serve you, you feel more like you than you ever have. I think that is because you are honoring your body and being honest with yourself about who you are and what you are capable of. When you give yourself permission to let go and give yourself what you need, you are better able to handle what life throws at you. It also provides your nervous system some peace from the fight, and the flight.
If you are like me, you spend an inordinate amount of time caring and doing for others. And when you aren’t doing that, you are worrying that you aren’t doing enough for others. For once, give yourself the same time commitment and mental brain power you give others. Schedule “you time” if you have to. Begin listening to your body and honoring it when it needs down time and comfort food. Binge watch Netflix. Sleep for ten hours. Read a book in a day or finally get through that pile of magazines you’ve been too busy or felt to guilty to touch (because To Do List). Pour yourself a glass of wine and put on some Miles Davis (or Pink or Def Leopard or Dave Matthews or any kind of music that goes good with wine and you time). Drive to the beach and plant your butt in the sand. Go to a movie with a friend. Surf Facebook for twelve hours. No judgements here. Do what feels right to you. What can you handle right now? What will help you better handle your life right now? Do that.
I know, I know. Sometimes, you have to go adult and pay for the bacon. Sometimes you have to do the things you need to do, even when you are out of spoons and have to get through ten hours of work and then go home and be a Mom until you collapse from exhaustion at 11:30PM. You need to acknowledge that getting through a normal day is an accomplishment, expecially if you are living with chronic illness. However, here’s the thing, my friend: the days you power through are much easier if you are giving yourself permission to take care of you on the days you aren’t working your butt off to bring home the bacon.
Your To Do list will not judge you if you take an evening for yourself. Life will go on, even if you do not cross things off your list today. Listen to that voice inside you that is screaming for naps and ice cream sundaes. She is looking out for you. Love yourself enough to listen. I promise you are still a badass if you let go and do for you. Actually, you are an even bigger badass if you do that because you are unapologetically saying: “This badass needs a break and that’s OK.”
What about you? What are you doing for you? Are you able to let go and put your To Do List aside? Share your story and your favorite self-care tips below.