Your thoughts and beliefs are the single most important indicator of your state of health. -Dr. Christiane Northrup, Goddesses Never Age
Remain Open and Teachable
Thank goodness, that I know I do not have all the answers and that I am still teachable. I have learned a valuable lesson from our younger generation. Unbelievably, for those of us that did not grow up in the Me, Me, Me Millennial Generation, we still struggle with giving ourselves guilt-free “me time.”
Don’t get me wrong. When younger, I did give myself permission to do as I pleased, but always with a price. That price was the high price of guilt and having to trade my “me time” for “away from my family time” since I was a young mother struggling to find her way. The time I took was more about a way to escape reality, instead of enjoying my own company and life in general. I have worked, albeit unconsciously, over the past years, to make-up for that time I took, usually at the high price of my own health and well-being.
I was always under the impression that I had to take, as if by force, “me time.” Or on the other hand, I needed to be sick and feeble in order to shut everything down for a while. Having the mind-set, that rest is for the weak and sick, stems from my childhood. Both my parents were hardworking people. Their belief was that rest was reserved for the Sabbath and the sick and just sitting doing nothing just was not allowed. I took this deep-rooted belief into adulthood and for the most part, I either believed it or rebelled against it, as in “I deserve it and no one is stopping me!” As if, someone was trying to prevent me from taking time for myself. There was very little balance.
A Work in Progress
It has been, to say the least, a busy few years! Too busy at this time to start listing all that has taken place. With still much to do, I woke up yesterday morning at 4:30. I was tired, but unable to sleep. I seemed to just have a lot on my “to do list” and wanted to get started. I got up, made coffee and thought I was ready to take on my day. However, by 8:00 AM, I was already sleepy and tired, very tired. This does not happen too often, that I am that tired that early in my day.
The words of sarcastic wisdom from my husband earlier that morning rang in my ears. “I have a great idea, He said. “You’re on no time schedule so why don’t you just rest today?”
He knows me all too well. He knows that I have difficulty just resting and relaxing. It has taken many years for me to get in tune with what my body needs. I’m still learning. I am a work in progress. I will sit or lie down to rest and the thoughts of what I should be doing run through my head almost the entire time.
It’s not as if I never do things for myself. I go for massages, only when I’m in pain and in need of relief, not for pleasure. Even with that, it takes me better part of a half-an-hour to relax and enjoy it. Then before I know it, it’s over.
I take power naps. They are a wonderful thing as long as I’m only sleeping for 15-20 minutes. I have a motive behind my naps and that is they will help me to continue with my day to get a lot more done. However, when it comes to giving myself guilt-free rest, I usually fail miserably.
Beliefs, Emotions, and Thoughts
I have literally exhausted myself before I would allow myself to take restful “me time.” In the past, I have become bedridden from the failure to see the signs of exhaustion. I have become sickly with colds, flu, stomach problems, tired and sluggish, just overall not feeling well, just to name a few illnesses. I can now see that the combination of poor nutrition, my inability to rest guilt-free, and my negative emotions were to blame for many of my illnesses.
It is the combination of our beliefs, emotions, and what we tell ourselves (thoughts) that play the most important roles in our overall health. Our emotions can drive us to live a very unhealthy lifestyle. Over the years, I have become much more emotionally and spiritually aware of what is going on with my body. I have worked for many years via different modalities, to let go of negative emotions and negative mindsets that lend themselves to disease. Most importantly, I have learned that all wellness and vitality come first via my connection with my spirit, with God.
It’s crucial to know that our immunity and resilience are boosted by the exalted emotions of compassion, love, and honor, all of which render us far more capable of fighting germs and viruses… All wellness and vitality come first via your connection with your spirit. -Dr. Christiane Northrup, Goddesses Never Age
Usually downtime looks like sabotaging myself by eating bad food, which adds to the guilt. What’s the fun in that? Because I’m starting to realize what my needs are, I set myself up for success. Before I totally went down for the count yesterday, I threw a chicken meal into the slow cooker and made a big pot of veggie soup. In this way, I didn’t have to rebel against my healthy diet in order to feel full and satisfied. So, with lunch ready and dinner simmering away, I took to the couch.
“Me time” looked like relaxing, staying in my robe, eating, reading, and napping. I mean all day! The difference in this day and those that look similar, to the outside world, was the fact that I felt no guilt about relaxing. I was listening to my body. I needed sleep. I napped. I needed spiritual guidance. I prayed. I needed food. I ate. I ate good healthy food. I ate often and I ate a lot of it, without guilt. I ate when I wanted, when my body said, “I’m hungry.” I needed down time to focus on me and I allowed myself to do so!
Eating properly, being spiritually in tune, and highly emotionally aware, has given me a real boost when it comes to fighting off body invaders. I have felt myself getting a cold and it literally does not develop into anything. I have learned to remind myself that I do not need to be sick in order to rest. I give myself permission to rest. That is when I notice that what I thought was a cold or flu or the like coming on it just dissipates.
Through this process, I have learned that we rest because we have worked hard and need rest not because we deserve it. I have learned that I give of my time and of myself because it is the right thing to do and I want to, not because it shows how gracious I can be. I learned that I am the one that pays the high price for overextending myself.
I have learned that finding that guilt-free “me time place” is not about what I do during that time as much as it is about how I feel when doing it. It needs to come from a place of enjoyment and just a bit self-indulgent pleasure.
Finding Value in Everyone
There is a lot to be said for a generation (as in the Millennial Generation) that values themselves so highly and that feel entitled. As well, there is a lot that our younger generation could learn from a generation that promoted hard work and perseverance. Each has worth and value. Discount no one.
Yesterday was a little slice of heaven on earth. Even though I was tired, I actually enjoyed my day. I did not want to be anywhere else, or doing anything else. I was relaxed. I took care of my mind, body, and spirit. I gave me what I needed to refuel and reenergize. Today I feel the difference. I got up this morning feeling rested. I took a walk in the cool of the morning and really enjoyed it.
I have just touched the tip of the iceberg and I am excited about digger deeper to find my new “me time” place. I know a happy balance can be found and that is exhilarating!
Me time looks different for everyone. What does me time look like for you? What is it that you have needed to do for yourself for so long? Why are you putting it off? I would love to hear from you.
When faced with numerous responsibilities and tasks and the demands of life, relaxation techniques may take a back seat in your life as they have mine in the past. This means that you might miss out on the health benefits of relaxation. If you don’t have an entire day to devote to yourself, try taking 15 minutes or even 5 minutes. Listed below are some of the benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic, that you can reap from relaxing and taking care of yourself.
The Benefits of Relaxation Techniques
Practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:
- Slowing your heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Slowing your breathing rate
- Reducing activity of stress hormones
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Improving concentration and mood
- Lowering fatigue
- Reducing anger and frustration
- Boosting confidence to handle problems
To get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques along with other positive coping methods, such as thinking positively, finding humor, problem-solving, managing time, exercising, getting enough sleep, and reaching out to supportive family and friends. -Mayo Clinic Staff