It seems like I’ve taken some serious time off between blogs and newsletters. I’ve even taken a break in my regular writing time for books. Quite a bit of time actually. A little of that was misplaced priorities, to be honest with you. Most of it was to dust myself off and take care of me though. All too often, we don’t take the time to put aside what we’re doing to take care of ourselves.
If I took time to take care of myself, was I doing ok? Yes. Great, as a matter of fact. I think there is a misconception that we need to start taking care of ourselves when we are way out of balance or sync. For many, it takes the classic “giant wakeup call”. You hear about them all the time. The heart attack, crumbling relationship, deep depression, or financial ruin. The truth is, we should be taking care of ourselves long before that, when we actually feel good. At the very least, we should act better on taking care of ourselves when we are beginning to teeter on the edge of not feeling good. What do I mean by that? The warning signs are usually there if you look closely enough. Here’s some that trigger me off: when you’re more tired than usual, your appetite either increases or decreases, or you find yourself isolating more. You don’t do the things you enjoy, ignore meaningful relationships, find you never have enough hours in the day, or even if you’ve found that you haven’t had a good laugh in a while. Those are usually the red flags that tell us we’re on a path that isn’t correct for us at the moment. When those symptoms occur, it’s an indication we need to start nurturing our balance. We need to start taking care of ourselves better.
This subject comes up, because I’ve been working hard on finishing some hiking goals. Some of the parts of this goal have helped me to gain confidence, self-discipline, and an overall better understanding of my physical limits. Many days I’ve forced myself to get up early, drive 3-4 hours, hike 10 or 11 miles, then drive back home the 3-4 hours again. This Sunday I was due to do the same thing, and recognized that my time was better off sleeping late, spending time with family, and re-assessing some things that needed it. I will hike another day. There is indeed a fine line as to walking away from our goals too easily, and accomplishing what needs to be accomplished, but if we listen carefully, we can usually separate the two to come up with a logical reasoning that is the best thing for us in the long run.
We can start to correct that balance using a number of different tools, and changing a few habits. Let’s look at a few:
An old rule for me, that I forget to use all too often, is to ask yourself the simple question,
Is this a good use of my time, energy, and resources?
Another shortened version I’ve used more recently is:
Is this a good thing for me?
You’d be surprised in asking yourself that simple question how many detrimental habits or activities we could avoid.
As for the future? I always ask myself the question
What’s the next right thing to do?
Again, I’m often surprised and well guided by the answer.
Let me be your tour guide to life. I'm the author of "Learning to be Human Again", and just like you, I'm still happily trying to figure this wonderful life out.