I was sitting in my psychiatrist’s office. My family doctor had referred me to her when I was pregnant with my daughter as I was at-risk for postpartum depression, but that’s an aside. “How is your self-care?” she asked, as I attempted to keep my daughter from grabbing the keyboard from the computer desk while, at the same time, nursing my son. “How is my self-care?” I mentally asked myself, fairly taken aback by the question.
Now I need to tell you, my psychiatrist is the medical health care professional in my life that I am especially fond of. She is incredibly shrewd, insightful, and scientific in her reasoning. She is able to site studies like no other I know. So as far as goodness-of-fit between my needs and her prowess, we couldn’t be better paired. But as she asked me this question, “How is your self-care?” I couldn’t help, but wonder if she really meant what she was saying. This appointment felt like the closest thing to self-care I’d done in a while, and I was currently bouncing my son while waving Noah’s Arc toys at my daughter in an attempt to distract her from pulling items off of my doctor’s selves. I think she sensed my perplexity, as she elaborated on her initial question: “What are you currently doing for yourself, independent of the family to keep yourself mentally healthy… to recharge?” I reflected a bit, “Well… I like to do yoga. Yoga certainly helps me.” “Okay,” she pressed on, “so how often are you doing yoga?” It was clear she was on to me.
When raising a young family, it is especially hard to make time for one’s self. But, without taking time to recharge, or put oneself first, the feeling of “running on empty” becomes prevalent, feelings become clouded, efficacy is lower, and the family suffers as a whole. The problem is self-care feels counter-initiative. There is so much to do; there are little hands constantly undoing what has just been done; and there is so much that gets out to the back burner and doesn’t. ever. seem. to. get. done. My children need me, almost constantly; my husband and I barely have enough time to ourselves, as is, without me scheduling in time for myself, solo. So a self-reinforcing cycle ensues: I am wiped, feel like I can’t get enough done, need time to myself, feel I shouldn’t take time, get more burnt out, am less efficient, feel more wiped, feel like I’m getting less done…
Blogging has been great. But if it doesn’t require me to leave the house without the kids, it doesn’t really count. Fortunately, my cycle of not decompressing has finally been broken. Due to my admittance into Yoga Teachers’ College and the goal for me to become a yoga teacher, I now have to do what I love to prepare. So recently, I attended my first class in almost a year. Even though I was weaker in my practice, I felt especially grateful. As I moved through each posture, I reflected on the word Sanskrit word, Drishti. The word, used frequently in yoga classes to appeal to students to find a focal point to balance better and quiet the mind, literally means “focusing outward to look in.” As I moved into a subsequent asana, adjusted my gaze, and felt so much more peaceful than I had in months, I thought it could not be more fitting that the meaning of this word was resonating through my practice. Self-care is focusing inward to be better suited to take on what it outside of us. I just need to maintain said focus.
What are ways you find time for yourself? Please share!