For a long long time, I believed, like many people do, that to take some time for yourself was selfish; that you could spend that time cleaning, running errands, visiting family, hanging out with friends, etc. However, like so many people, I would run and run and run until I would hit a wall. Then I would need to take a “mental health” day for myself; A.K.A. do nothing but what I wanted to do which was usually to laze on the couch all day long. After indulging in a mental health day, I would feel incredibly guilty because my to-do list would come smack me in the face the next day. My mind would start chiding that I could have gotten SO MUCH done while I was just lying on the couch. My brain goes 24/7 with to-do lists, ideas, errands, strategic plans on how to get everything done in as little amount of time as possible, etc.
Sounds like you?
That was me.
I began taking yoga in February 2013 with my mom because she wanted to get into shape. I had been “practicing” yoga with a DVD. (Not even CLOSE to the real, live yoga class—just saying) I went about 4 times a week on average. I didn’t realize it, but I was carving “me” time. During those yoga classes, I allowed myself to really get into everything the instructor was talking about, and not just the exercise aspect that I came to class for in the first place. Believe me—I thought all their talk was completely hippie and stupid the first few months I went to class.
After a few weeks, my mind would clear as soon as I hit the studio, and I experienced silence for the first time in my life; I was hooked. After three months, yoga became more than just exercise. I didn’t have to have “mental health” days because I was carving out about 5 hours a week to let go of all my worries and cares; to feel my body and breath and how it felt just to be alive! (Yes—I know I now sound like a hippie… But really, when was the last time you actually thought about your ribs, let alone felt them, and what they do to support you? ) After six months, my body aches and pains were gone; I am not the most flexible by any means nor in the most pain, but it was liberating to not think “OW that hurts” all the time. I learned to breathe and be present in all emotions and feelings like discomfort, learned patience, and to listen to and honor my body. I was also the happiest that I had ever been in my life; I was actively living yoga as much as I could with my limited knowledge.
Then in February 2014, I stopped going to yoga classes. There were several factors, most of which are too personal to share. I was fine for a few months, but then the stress and worries began to creep in again. I tried to practice on my own, but it just wasn’t the same. I began taking mental health days again; my body began to get tight and achy again, and I lost the calmness of my mind that came with the practice.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
I talked with The Hubby, and he encouraged me to go back. He said he could tell that I enjoyed it, and I was a much better person when I went, much more calm and happy. (I wasn’t sure how to take that.….) We had to make some hard decisions like the fact that he would have to make dinner more often and help out a bit more with chores; he didn’t mind.
I started back in August 2014, and I was welcomed with open arms. In fact, the owner said, “Hey! You’re back! We missed you!” (I was seriously there 5 times a week for a year; I joked that I could just move in.) I felt like I was home again.
It hasn’t been easy; my body is stiff, and I want to push it to do what it could do after one year of practicing yoga. I know that I must be patient. My mind went to it like water flowing downhill. I am not able to go as often as I would like since I now work out of town, but I am going about 3 times a week. I can already tell a difference in my attitude and demeanor.
Just like a flight attendant tells you before you fly that you have to put YOUR mask on first BEFORE you help others; you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.
That’s a fact.
I learned that early in my life, and I hope that you realize it soon for your own health. It’s not selfish to put yourself on the same level of attention you give to your friends and family. Sharon Tessandori says it beautifully when she stated —“You are equally deserving of your time, energy, and love”.
My advice to you is do something at least once a week for YOU. Not something that you think you have to do (like exercise), but something that makes YOU feel happy and alive, that rejuvenates YOU—read, go to church, volunteer, take zumba classes, stroll through your neighborhood, go to the gym, paint, quilt, practice yoga, collect stamps, take a nap, play computer games, join a fan club, go to an art gallery, take some classes at the extension agency, listen to symphonies (large colleges usually have a few free concerts a month), play with your pet, etc.
I practice yoga.
You can. I promise. You have the time; you just need to make it a priority.
Your to-do list can wait; I promise. Mine does.
Jennifer is the chef behind the website, a girl eats world.