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The Art of Self Care

It’s almost a new year and somewhere a resolution or two is being drafted. And if you’re like everyone else, who is writing down their wants on the great annual to do-list, I hope you’ll add one more — self care. In other words, take better care of yourself in the upcoming year.

Self care is just what it seems — the continual practice of taking time to put your needs and concerns as a priority to ensure you’re getting the rest and maintenance to press forward in life.

You need it. 

Like many, you’re busy. I know. You don’t necessarily make yourself a priority. I mean, who has time? There’s work to be done. Projects to be launched. Personal and family obligations to take care of. And there’s just not enough hours in the day for “self-care”. In sounds great in theory, but who has time for it in practice.

Whether we admit it or not, there’s a lot of pride in busyness. Many of us are defined by the things we do, especially when it comes to work. Our job titles and responsibilities often take up far more real estate in our lives than they should, encroaching on time that should be spent enjoying with others or even ourselves.

We’ve equated busyness with importance, giving some things a bigger value they need to have. Somehow adulthood is being defined by pushing ourselves beyond our limits to keep up with an impossible race that taxes us in every way possible. 30 years from now, you probably won’t think too much about all the emails you sent. Whatever is currently stressing you out work may not matter in the long run, including the co-worker who gets on your nerves.

You can only put so much tension into something before it breaks.

Here’s the reality, our physical and mental bandwidth (not to mention time) are limited. We are not built to be the micromanager of all that happens in our corner of the universe.  The truth is there has to be a space and time to recharge.

So as the new year is upon us, three things to consider.

Create boundaries. You need clear lines of demarcation. No cross zones. Set aside times and spaces that are for you. These times that set for to replenish. Write them on the calendar and make them consistent. The more you block out specific time for your needs, the more the rest of the world will learn to adhere it to it. This is important. If you don’t carve out valuable time AND  keep it, you can’t expect others to respect it.

Turn off the gadgets. Set a particular time every weeknight to turn off your phone. If there’s no worthwhile reason why you don’t need it on, turn it off at least before you go to bed. If that’s not feasible, set your phone on Do Not Disturb (except for emergency calls from the important people in your life) so that you have to bother with calls from the general public.

Do something fun and be present.Multitasking is somewhat overrated. Sure, it’s needed in some limited circumstances, but it’s not a skill you need to follow you in all aspects of your life. Take stock of the activities you enjoy doing, and then do them. And don’t just do them, stay focused on the activity while you’re doing. No point going on vacation or hanging out the movies only to think about what’s happening at work.

These suggestions aren’t overly complicated and they aren’t meant to be. But instead they are starting points with the hope that you’ll value your “you” time a little more and  start a new practice in the new year to come.


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