By Liz, loving the summer weather that’s finally here
Every now and then, we all need to take it a little easy and be kind to ourselves. Whether we’ve been dealing with something that’s been tough on us, working ourselves too hard, or simply feeling the need to take a break, it’s really important to pay attention to those signs.
I used to get this message in different forums–self-help books, my social media feed, yoga classes–and intellectually I’d agree with it, but in practice, I could never really do it. I always felt guilty/lazy/insert insult here, and I would spin my wheels trying to do “productive” things, but never make much progress. Which always made me feel worse. And then I would swear I would do things differently the next time.
A couple weeks ago the opportunity arose for that whole “being kind to myself” thing. And this time, I challenged myself to put this into practice.
First, I took a week or so off from writing. I just didn’t have the energy. In theory, writing makes me feel better, but I couldn’t get my brain back into the story enough that it was flowing. So I gave myself some grace and took a break.
I focused on doing some mindless things that made me feel better. For me, that’s watching Gilmore Girls and Grace & Frankie. Both shows make me feel like I’m hanging out with friends and best of all, they make me laugh. Also, crime shows – which can help me get the juices flowing for my own writing.
I took a lot of walks with the doggies and listened to some podcasts. My current obsessions are Glennon Doyle’s We Can Do Hard Things and — how cool is this — a new one with Scott Patterson, who played Luke on the Gilmore Girls. It’s called I Am All In and goes through each episode of the beloved show and features cast members and really fun stuff. It’s been so fun to listen.
I made lots of tea, journaled, and finally went back to yoga. And I did a little shopping–trying not to let that be my go-to coping strategy, but old habits die hard, I guess.
And I’m happy to say, it worked. I’m back at my laptop, working on the next Cat Cafe book. And even though I’m slogging through the middle slowly and painfully, I’m working it out and keeping at it. And it feels pretty good.
So this is my PSA – if you need to take some time to heal something, or simply take a much-needed break, do it. Listen to yourself and find the things that give you joy, even if they seem like a colossal waste of time. They’re not. It’s all part of the healing.
Readers, how do you take care of yourself? Leave a comment.
Love this, Liz. Such an important post!
2020/2021 were a difficult time for me, my friends, the world. I’m still processing the multiple body blows. Two months ago, I took a week off. I’d finished writing a spec book, had an idea for another, but no energy to bring it to the page. I took a week off. Crocheted an afghan, read tons of my TBR, baked cookies and bread. It was the best gift I could have given myself. I’ve scheduled another for when I finish the latest WIP!
Kait, that sounds lovely! Glad you took that time for you.
I love this idea and am glad it worked for you, Liz! I’ve been taking breaks by visiting with family and close friends. Right now my bestie is still asleep after our beach afternoon yesterday, and all weekend I was at my son’s. Didn’t even bring my laptop. For me, being with loved ones again refills the well in the best of ways.
Thanks Edith. Yes, time with friends is so needed.
With the help of a dear friend, I learned while being a full time caregiver to my Mom with Alzheimer that in order to properly take care of her that I needed to take care of me. It’s amazing how a couple days of change of life pattern and de-stressing how much your mental outlook can change and your problems or just life in general get back into prospective.
For me now that summer is here, is either relaxing with a cold drink, fans on and a good book in my hands or sitting on the porch with camera in hand just being with nature and waiting for our critter visitors to appear so I can try to capture that perfect shot. If those don’t work and now that some restrictions have been lifted and fully vaccinated, it means packing a little bag and heading to places unknown with hubby to change surroundings, not having to deal with what to fix for supper and just some senior citizen goof off time.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Kay, I hope you get those pictures!
You are so right! It’s not being selfish taking time to relax. Several years back when my wife was ( is still) facing a very serious health issues her surgeon pulled me aside with the advice you are talking about. For me it’s my morning
“date” with the birds while sitting on my deck. Hearing their melodies just gives me a certain peace.
I love listening to the birds too!
I’m glad you took the time for yourself. I’ve learned to take what I call “me” or “mental” days for myself. Mostly I watch horror movies – makes me feel good to yell at the people when they are doing something dangerous.
I love that Dru – mental health days! And horror movies are an awesome way to tune out!
My me time is usually reading outside on my deck when its nice or inside snuggled on my couch with a good book!
Both of those are awesome.
Once during a very busy period of my life, my sister sent me a quote that said, “Rest and rest some more.” It’s not always easy to do.
I love that, Sherry!
Glad you took some time for yourself. I’m getting away next week to visit my sister. Just her, me, my nephew, Koda, and a week of nothing. Might see some old college friends.
But usually “me time” is a book and a cup of tea, either on my porch or in my sunroom.
Both of those versions sound lovely, Liz!
Our school district’s Wellness Committee would establish fitness programs, walking mostly, but also once using the weight room (which students thought was great, as they could do so much more). Breaking the workload up with activity helped relieve stress. At one time our jr. high counselors set up a walking partnership for troubled students and teachers willing to walk and talk during their planning periods, a chance to channel some energy and mentor a bit. Taking care of the body helps the mind as well, worthy maintenance. <3
It definitely does. I notice a difference when I do yoga especially.
That’s is awesome advice and taking time for yourself is important.
Thank you Donna!
Every morning I go on a walk , I love the fresh air and I love hearing the birds sing and seeing all the little creatures out there, I love seeing all the beautiful flowers out there in the desert which are taken care of by God. I do what I like to do, spend time with my family, especially my grandchildren. I read every night and I read the daily readings from the Bible. If we don’t take care of ourselves, there is nobody that can do it for us, and if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can not be of help to anybody that might be needing us.
So true, Alicia – putting your own oxygen mask on first before helping your neighbor.
Sounds as if being alone and reading are common threads here. I certainly agree. I was brought up with such a strong work ethic that it is hard to “do nothing”, but I have learned it is necessary. I no longer feel guilty taking a day off to just lie on the sofa, read, drink coffee, eat special goodies, whatever…. I really feel the healing power of this activities (or non-activities, if you will.) My husband gave me a magnet that says, “Do more of what makes you happy.” I take that seriously.
Yes – I love that reminder!
Quite often, not much happens on Saturdays. Even if I have a list of reviews that need to be written/edited or a book I plan to read for a while, it just doesn’t happen. I’ve learned to let that be. It’s done wonders for me.
Nice, Mark – it’s good to have a day with no plans!
I learned during our 14 years of being caretakers for my dad who had Alzheimer’s that with all the stress I needed to be “gentle with myself.” It is difficult to be the parent to your parent and there have been times when I doubted decisions and regretted actions, but I discovered that to keep going I needed to not be so hard on myself all the time. We are all human after all and being able to love others really starts with loving ourselves. Or as my pilot husband always says, “First order of business in any crisis or stressful situation is to maintain aircraft control!” 😉
That is very wise advice!
1000 piece jigsaw puzzles, reading cozies, genealogy, my dog and husband, walks with my pup, and good neighbors and friends.
Love this, Madeleine!
This last year has been tough with a move back to the US from an overseas military base. I’ve been managing our family’s expectations and emotions to the point that I’ve had to take a step back to breathe. Grabbing a coffee from Starbucks and wandering around Target or BN is the fastest way to help me relax…and I usually end up with a new book to read, so win-win!
Comments are closed.