For as long as I can remember, my Dad has always told me, “look after number one”. As someone who wants everyone to be happy and to always help others, I find this very hard, but I am learning just how important self-care is, and just how right my Dad was.
Somewhere along the line, we have lost the art of self-care. The constant rushing around, with never ending to-do lists, being summoned to go here and there, events that we feel we “have” to go to…
At times I have felt I didn’t deserve to be kind to myself, I wouldn’t buy myself anything; make-up, food, clothes, entertainment. During my illness, this became quite extreme, to the point that I felt I didn’t even deserve things like sleep, and would make myself stay awake all night. Or if I gave in to buying something for myself, I’d become so stressed to the point of panic. I’d need to bring what I bought back, or if it was not reversible, I would “punish” myself with something like walking over sharp stones in bare feet.
This is a very drastic example, but it is not all that different from completely burning yourself out, living your life feeling mentally and physically exhausted, denying yourself the time out you need.
When did you last truly relax? Sit and do absolutely nothing for 5 minutes? Concentrate on breathing and breathing only? Because that’d be a waste of time right? There must be an e-mail to answer, a phone call to make, an errand to run… “time is money”.
When I teach a Pilates class, although it is physical with a focus of controlled strength, the movements with attention to alignment and balance, requires you to focus on you and your body. I can tell when someone has had a more stressful day, or if their mind is busy and has drifted, because they lose their form, posture and balance. It happens a lot.
In fact, I find it increasingly more difficult to teach the exercises requiring more co-ordination and balance, as the mind is losing the capacity to be in the moment with an internal focus.
It know it’s easier said than done, I’m still caught up in the rush of life myself. I recently ended up working 48 days in a row non-stop from 7am to 11pm. And I mean 7 days-a-week, with not a single hour to myself.
I told myself that I needed to do it for now, it’s just life. I only stopped when I got really unwell for 3 days, and got a shock that I needed to realise just how hard I had pushed myself.
I listened to my body, I took back control of my life. Even with a busy schedule, that “never ending” to-do list and trying to build a business, I still make sure I allow time for myself; at the spa, with friends, or to just lay still for a while.
By investing in myself, I can put more energy into doing what I love and be the best instructor that I can be.
You can only look after others, if you look after yourself first.