Last week I did something that I don’t do often enough, I took a week off. I honestly thought it was going to be a day or two, but it instead ended up being a whole week. At first, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t code, I couldn’t create….my mind was at its fill. As someone who enjoys procedures and some level of order, the past few weeks have taken me out of my norm and placed me into a new daily cycle. Yes, I was still able to take care of my kids; I was supporting and encouraging my husband [who is in the healthcare field] all while trying to support my remaining Knowtizmnt clients and communicate with my UnCaged Phoenix family. But inside I knew my energy was off, and I knew that pushing myself to be there for everyone was not going to work much longer. I needed to add my mind, body and spirit to the top of my list. I needed maintenance and maintenance without the guilt trip. Like many of you, I have had to fight through the guilt of not being there for everyone. Yes, at first, I felt guilty. I knew I should be focused on everyone else and that there were people in much worse of a situation than I was. Does any of this sound familiar? As caregivers and leaders, it is sometimes hard to stop and wave the white flag. We tell ourselves how we are failing or weak by not pushing forward, but sometimes to push forward you need to take a break.
Many of you have also had to take temporary breaks during this period. Whether by force or by choice, you have somehow discovered or been reminded [whichever applies to you] that you cannot be everything for everyone, especially if you are not willing to take care of yourself. In all battles, we should take care of our soldiers and my soldiers are, amongst other things, my body, mind and spirit. Of these three, the first on the list of maintenance was my spirit, which led me to pray and to earnestly listen for and to God’s voice. Many people are fussing about the closures of churches [my opinion on that is a whole other blog]. I am not sure if they understand that the same God that is present in the church is also very present in their homes. I mean, it is His planet so He can hear us everywhere. All being said, I took full advantage of YouTube sermons, biblical research and made prayer time with my family as mandatory as eating [my family ties everything to food]. My reasoning for taking time for a spiritual break was quite simple. As much as I like to be in control, clearly, I am not in control this time; and I am not sure that I ever really was. None of us are in control of the global situation, but it sure feels good to know who is and that His hands are quite more capable than mine. May I suggest we all take some time out this week to disconnect from the distractions and say “Hello” to God. You don’t have to be all formal when you reach out to Him and there is no perfect way; just say Hello in your own way. He will hear you no matter the voice, time or location.
My second step in maintenance/shutting down drew me more into my own thoughts and feelings and required some mental and emotional cleaning. Now I am not sure if your brain thinks like mine, but my mind runs at 100 miles per hour all on its own and with the continuous stimuli the world has been providing, I needed to dump somethings out. I needed to accept that some people were going to act the fool as times like this tends to bring out the true characters in others. I had to accept that I was not going to agree with everyone or their choices. I needed to remove a lot of unnecessary thoughts and processes and just keep what I needed. This included reducing my contact with negative people. I am sorry, I love everyone, but if people were going to use this time to beat up on others – I have no time for it. I have no mental space to try to figure out everything for everyone. We may want to help everyone all of the time, but if we misuse our energy and mental space for negative and useless activities, then are we really helping anyone? We all have limited time and resources and we should be using them to do positive things for ourselves and for others. Park the negativity to the side and when this is all over – leave it parked to the side. As a matter of fact, burn or bury it.
The third and last part of putting me to the top of the list required taking care of me physically. Please, even if you glanced over the first two steps, I need you to take this step seriously. I have been adamant about my family eating right, taking their vitamins and getting rest; but was I doing it? Sadly, I was not. As caregivers we have to take care of ourselves. If we are not around, everything may really shut down. We have to exercise, eat right, practice self-care and nurture our bodies. But did you know that even with uneasy and uncertain times you deserve taking a few minutes every day to do something for you? It does not need to be something elaborate. I am clearly not encouraging you to go outside for a spa day. I am telling you to find some moment of self-care to revive and strengthen your body. Please, don’t let anyone, especially your own voice, make you feel guilty for doing this. It is not being selfish. This is in fact one of the ways you are taking care of your family. The stronger you are, the more you can give. Take the time when you can and the best way that you can. There isn’t a perfect method for everyone. Some may need to take longer showers, some may exercise, others may need to sit outside on the step and some of us may lock ourselves into a closet with snacks (ehem – healthy ones!). Whatever method you choose, do what’s best for you and your circumstances.
- How are you taking care of you during this time?
- What positive things will you like to start doing?
- What are some of the things you have learned about yourself during this time and how will this new knowledge help make necessary changes in your life?