Family visiting from out of town. Cooking to be done. Christmas shopping lists getting longer. House to be cleaned. Holiday parties to host and attend. This time of year can be busy! And it can be easy to lose sight of taking care of ourselves.
Let me share a story with you from when I was a naturopathic medical student. It was getting towards the end of a busy evening shift when a visibly overwhelmed mother of three brought in her youngest child to address some health and behavioral issues. Towards the end of the visit the attending physician took a moment of pause in our focus on the child to ask the mother how she was doing. Through this simple question came an outpouring of emotions. The mother explained that she was overwhelmed with taking care of her children, managing a full time job and cooking dinner for her family every night. Understandable. And something that I am sure many can relate to! Next, the attending physician asked the mother what she was doing to take care of herself. Silence. The mother was at a complete loss as to how to reply. After much thought, she eventually replied that she used to enjoy yoga but simply didn't have time for it anymore.
The attending physician's response was to encourage her to make a list. A list of 5 simple things, at least one of which, she could realistically do for herself every single day. And I would like to encourage you to do the same for yourself today.
It is all too easy to forget about yourself and get caught up in other responsibilities. I find that this can ring especially true around the holiday season. The following quote by Thich Nhat Hanh provides us with an often much needed reminder that we also need to prioritize taking care of ourselves.
Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy toward yourself- if you are not capable of taking care of yourself, of nourishing yourself, of protecting yourself- it is very difficult to take care of another person.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Finding myself getting wrapped up in to-do's and responsibilities in the past few weeks, I decided to re-visit and update my own list. Here it is:
1. Move. Take a yoga class. Or a dance class. Go on a 20 minute walk. Anything!
2. Be still. Meditate for 15 minutes.
3. Take the time to cook an intentional, delicious, healthy meal.
4. Be creative. Draw, paint, write a poem, or get outside and take some photographs. At least 30 minutes!
5. Read for pleasure. Allow myself to get lost in a novel for at least 30 guilt-free minutes.
I encourage you to make your own list today. Because you are important. Remember, the goal is to do at least one of the things on your list every single day. If something on the list is not getting done, remove it, and replace it with something more realistic. If you can do more than one of the things on your list each day, or even all of them, even better!
So, what's on your list?