Like many people, I have a list of daily self-care rituals that I strive to maintain – meditation, exercise, preparing good food for the day… I figure, if I’m going to help people take better care of themselves, I also need to be a model for that kind of self-love.
Lately, however, I’ve been noticing that my relationship to my self-care routine hasn’t felt like self-care. How is it that these rituals which are meant to support me in my life can end of feeling like a burden even though I feel better when I’m able to do them, and my days flow more smoothly?
I’m realizing that it’s not because the activities themselves aren’t nourishing; it’s more because of the way I think about time in relationship to my routine.
As you might expect, I always have an estimated time frame in which I expect to get things done. Of course. We all do that, right? The only problem is that my estimated time frame often doesn’t have anything to do with the reality of how long it actually takes to do things. Instead, it’s based on an idea about how long I think something should take.
For example, if I decide that I should be able to get home from the gym and eat breakfast within a thirty minute window, I’ll hold that schedule in my mind, even though it’s more likely to take an hour. I can force myself to meet the half hour deadline. It’s not impossible; it just changes the feel of my morning.
However, if I follow my internal rhythm after my workout, I’m in a kind of meditative zone, and I’m moving more slowly. I prefer to be a be able to dawdle a little, prepare my food in a more leisurely way, and then sit and enjoy my breakfast as I stare out the window at the trees and enjoy the heat of the sun on my face.
When I try to force myself to stick to the shorter timeframe, and yet find myself still not quite able to meet it consistently, I subtly brow beat myself into working just a little harder to meet the time goal I set – even after YEARS of noticing that the optimal time frame for me to complete the practice is longer. I rarely just let myself schedule the activity within the optimal timeframe.
What are the consequences of not allowing myself to follow my natural rhythm and honor the length of time it actually takes me to complete a task?
- I’m always planning to do more than I can actually accomplish with a certain timeframe and thus…
- I’m often feeling rushed or behind because I’m trying to catch up to my ideal (totally unrealistic) schedule and…
- I’m often late because I’m trying to meet the time goals I’ve set for myself up to the last minute when I finally decide I have to give up on that particular activity which leaves me feeling…
- ANXIOUS! Then there’s this nagging story running in the background of my mind about how I need to do a better job of… [fill in the blank]… and the subtle, not always fully conscious feeling of “not enoughness” that comes from that sense that I haven’t accomplished enough. Then…
- I don’t end up fully relaxing into, and enjoying the activities and practices that are meant to nourish and sustain me.
SO, as part of my commitment, this year, to loving myself more fiercely and unconditionally, I am practicing honoring the time it actually takes me to do things. What a concept!
As a result, I’m finding that I have to get really clear about what my priorities are. What is REALLY worth my time and attention in a given moment? Some things are falling away. Other things are taking up more space.
Ultimately, I’m feeling more productive than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m actually getting to do more of the things that really matter to me, while also feeling more accomplished as I move through my day. Who knew honoring my own natural rhythm could be so good?
If any of this experience resonates for you, tell me about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you think!