This week we welcome Claire Murphy to our guest spot. Claire is a yoga and meditation teacher with over 25 years teaching experience. She brings a wealth of knowledge from the wide variety of training and study that she has continually undertaken. She specialises in women’s health through yoga. In addition, she is very innovative in her meditation teaching techniques, helping people find ways to regularly commit to a meditation practice. For more information please visit her website. www.claire-murphy.com
Women and Self-Care
There’s a well-known saying that goes something like, “we lead by example”. So my question is what example were we given as young girls growing up on self-care? How often did we witness our own mothers and grandmothers taking time for themselves?
This has thrown me into something of a quandary. As a woman with two daughters, I feel I need to set an example for them both so that as they mature, they don’t endure the framing of guilt that surrounds women today when we take time for ourselves.
Too often guilt is a woman’s driving force. We feel we ‘should’ be doing something ‘productive’ – this means something that justifies time spent. I remember being told off for daydreaming…quite clearly that wasn’t an effective use of time, whereas helping with household chores was!
We put ourselves last on the list when it comes to looking after ourselves. Left too long, this starts to fester and we can often feel resentful and angry alongside plain run-down and exhausted. Left unchecked, it means we have nothing left to give to anyone.
Is this the inheritance we want for our daughters? More importantly, is this how we want our lives to be?
What’s getting in the way?
Well, we may start off with the idea of, say, taking a run every day (for example), but you know how it is, my inbox is jammed and by the time I’ve worked my way through it, I’ve lost the inclination. There’s always tomorrow right? Then I remember I have to throw together an outfit for a school production for my youngest – cue the frantic rush about town trying to find something in yellow, only its winter and the stores only have dark colours! Sigh…there’s always the next day. No wait, I forgot, I’ve promised to accompany a friend to get her hospital results. No worries, I can always take that run in the evening, only upon returning home, I find that all the ants in the neighbourhood have decided to move into my kitchen while I was out.
Seems a bit far-fetched? Hardly. Ask any woman and she will say that it’s par for the course.
What’s the remedy?
You need to know why you want to do something. When teaching meditation classes for example, the first principle I ask people to be clear about is their intention. What will this practice do for them? How is it going to impact their life in a positive way? We need to have clarity…”I want to commit to a 10 minute meditation practice each day because it helps me focus, re-balance and be able to appreciate what’s important in my life.” Then to really clinch it, share your intention with at least one person (best not to advertise it on your social media timeline though as it leaves you open to the opinions of others who may not share your aspirations.
This means setting a reminder on your phone / scheduling the time in your planner just as you would for something work-related. You are making a commitment to yourself which has the same level of importance as a business meeting. Ensure you have everything prepared and ready so that your precious time isn’t spent hunting around for art supplies or any other piece of necessary equipment for your chosen endeavour.
Be practical with the time that you set aside for your chosen self-care regime. Whilst it would be lovely to have a spa-like experience on a daily basis, this is highly impractical for most of us and would lead to feeling pretty disillusioned and your good intentions being abandoned.
Just do it
Really, it’s that simple. Do what you set out to do. The more you are able to act on your commitment the better the chances of it becoming a good habit and you are then able to find your groove with your own time. Make self-care a habit worth having. It takes time and practice. Eventually you will realise that you are just as important as other members of the family and they will delight in the benefits of you taking time for yourself as it will create a positive spiral of energy within the home.
We all like to see the tick or the line through a lengthy ‘to-do list’ right? Well make it even brighter and bolder on your own self-care time slot and use a colourful sticker or highlighter to show that you did it!
If this has got you thinking about the way you look after yourself (or not) why not join the conversation by leaving a comment below. You can also look at the full series of articles on kindness.