This has been my first week of working as a fully self-employed writer and blogger. I started off the week fresh with drive and enthusiasm – as well as excitement to work from my new desk and workspace.
My enthusiasm didn’t go anywhere but my health did. The muggy weather has a way of aggravating my migraines and I found it difficult to accept that that meant my working plans for the day were going out of the window. I can’t concentrate, or look at a laptop screen, with my head pounding and while I’m feeling queasy. Not to mention that pregnancy is meaning I’m not sleeping well so I’m not feeling 100% anyway.
The little voice inside, though, tells me that I’m being lazy. That I’m not motivated and I’m already failing.
But actually, taking some time out to look after myself when I need it the most is not failure. It’s preservation.
I tried to do a bit of work in the morning – specifically focusing on things that didn’t need much brainpower or concentration – and then I gave myself a bit of a break. I realised there’s absolutely no need to push myself. In fact, the pressure I’m feeling to constantly perform at my best is all from myself, no one else. And how can you perform at your best if you’re not treating yourself in the best way possible?
So I sat down and I started a new knitting project for a while instead.
It got me thinking about just how important – and how ok it is – to allow yourself to take time out every now and then. So here are eight ways that I think we can all be a bit more kind to ourselves in times like these:
1. Have an early night
Having a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to help yourself feel fully charged and more human. Recently I’m achieving an average of around five hours of sleep a night. I need more than that but I can just about get by if I have to. But any less than that and I actually feel a bit like I’m drunk. I can’t make decisions, I can’t think of simple words and I definitely can’t be very creative. My body is focusing on simply functioning and staying awake, let alone any more.
So try to unwind and get into bed early. Even if you can’t sleep, you’re resting which is good.
2. Listen to your body
If you’re feeling under the weather or like you’re on the verge of being run down, stop. Give yourself time to breathe. It’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to have a little break. By taking a few minutes out, or a whole day, or whatever time you can afford, you’re not being lazy. It’s not a race. You’re doing the best thing for you so that you can come back to the task raring to go.
3. Drink plenty of water
This especially applies to anyone like me who suffers with migraines but actually it’s good advice for everyone to stay hydrated. I have to keep a pint glass with me at all times to remind myself to actually drink enough each day and I do get through it. Dehydration can have a big affect on your body: it can make you tired, give you a headache and make you feel light-headed. Get on the water!
4. Schedule in time to relax
This is linked to a previous point but make sure you schedule in some down time for yourself, it won’t happen unless you make it happen. You can find just 10 minutes somewhere in your day to sit out in the fresh air, read a bit of a book, write in your journal, chat to a friend, do a quick face mask or watch some Friends – whatever makes you feel more like you. Self care is imperative.
5. Have a little dance around the bathroom
Dance like no one’s watching (even if they are). It’s so uplifting to do this every morning while you’re brushing your teeth (please don’t choke on your toothpaste). It loosens you up and can can lighten your mood! Equally, having a little sing or hum in the shower makes me feel happier.
6. Run a bath
Sticking to the bathroom, nothing makes me feel much more relaxed than a soak in the tub. Get the bubble bath out, stick on some candles and maybe even some relaxing music and close your eyes in the warm water for a while. Try not to think of anything except focusing on your breathing.
7. Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths
This is something you can do anywhere – from your desk at work, before you get out of your (parked up, engine off) car, before you go to sleep – it will have an instant calming effect. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly. Remember to loosen your jaw too, many of us keep tension in our jaw without even realising it.
8. Congratulate yourself on something you’ve achieved today
No matter how small it is, you have accomplished something today. Got through a difficult meeting? Listened to someone when they needed a shoulder? Gained another five Twitter followers? Acknowledged a mistake? Got out of bed? Well done!
I hope this doesn’t seem patronising – I don’t mean it to. The point I’m trying to make is that big things don’t happen overnight, they take lots of little steps. It’s really motivating to break down bigger tasks into smaller ones and track your progress. You’ll see that actually, you have taken a step closer to your goal, whatever it is. Remember to give yourself a little pat on the back for it.
Even if you’re having a bad day and you’ve had a little cry, this is actually a form of self care too. Getting it all out. We nearly always feel better after a bit of a cry, right? And remember that things always seem better in the morning.
How are you more kind to yourself?