Making time for yourself: why self-care isn’t selfish

During my twenties my diary was always pretty full-balancing the demands of work and a healthy social life, planning holidays, city breaks and spontaneous fun, pursuing hobbies-as well as seeming to find plenty of time to be pretty self-indulgent. I look back now and wistfully remember lots of lazy weekend mornings spent simply pottering around, painting my nails, having long luxurious baths, enjoying coffee and the papers in bed.

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As a self-employed parent with two young children, my weekend mornings now are rather different; characterised by the crack of dawn swimming lessons, constant chatter, spilt breakfast cereal, soft play parties and missing car keys. My life now is richer in so many other ways, but looking back, the thing I miss about the old days is simply the amount of time I had, to spend just how I pleased.

Because these days If I am not desperately trying to cram the equivalent of an 8-hour working day between school drop off and pick up, I am juggling the roles of attentive parent, supportive partner, good friend, daughter. There’s always a form to fill out, a group WhatsApp to respond to, an online shop to complete, a load of washing to hang out. It’s gloriously chaotic, messy, noisy and relentless and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But with so much going on, any thought to attending my own needs beyond the basics goes to the bottom of a very long list.

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Having chatted with friends about this, I know I am not alone in frequently feeling like I am always on the verge of dropping one of the balls. Just about holding it all together, but always mindful of what needs doing next. Never stopping to just take a breath and press pause, and check in with myself and what I might need. Our 24/7 connected world plays a huge part in this-wherever you are, whatever time of day, someone can always get hold of you, we never switch off. I am somewhat horrified to admit I can’t remember the last time I went anywhere for any length of time without my phone. No wonder we’re left feeling burnt out. In this crazy modern world practising a bit of ‘self-care’ isn’t just a wellbeing trend beloved of women’s magazines; it’s as essential to our general health as eating well.

So with the aim of being slightly less frazzled in 2018, I am making the effort to regularly prioritise my own needs, and importantly, to not feel guilty about it. Sadly, spa breaks and massages are not a regular fixture in my diary, and even a long soak in the tub doesn’t have quite the same appeal these days (rubber duck, anyone?). But it’s amazing where you can find some time for yourself during your day if you look hard enough.

Making a few small daily changes has really helped me feel a bit more balanced and made me more focused and present when I step back into the madness, which benefits everyone around me too.

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3 ways to find a me-moment in the everyday:

Walk it out

The solo walk on the way home from the school drop-off sets me up for the day. Not only to stretch out and move but with my headphones in, music on, answering to no one, I get some much-needed headspace to organise my thoughts. Or better still, just think about nothing at all.

Turn off tune out

My typical working day is spent staring at a screen, but I am now making a conscious effort to digitally log out once I’ve downed tools. So at the same time each evening I put my phone away, or at least turn-off notifications. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I find this downright inconvenient (when else am I going to do my personal admin?!). But it’s definitely had a positive effect on my overall mood and concentration levels, helping me relax, and drift off more quickly come bedtime.

Concentrate on ‘being’, rather than always ‘doing’

There will always be something that I should be doing, but I’m trying to stop pressurising myself to make every moment of my day count towards achieving something. If there’s a 15 minute window of time in my day before I next have to be somewhere and I can make myself a coffee and drink it in peace with a good book, then that’s what I’m going to do. And I’m going to enjoy it. The washing up can wait. 

 

Photography: Tales By Jen | Dawid Sobolewski | Chin Le Photography | Maxime Lelievre

 

 

I’m a writer and content creator, working with brands to create inspiring bespoke content, as well as on my own projects. Having spent 12 years working at Glamour before going freelance, I now spend my time working with a diverse range of mainly lifestyle, health, well-being and beauty brands, on anything from blog writing, website copy, features and press releases, to e-marketing, social media content and campaign management. And while my average working day may not be as glamorous as during my time in the magazine industry, I love the flexibility of working for myself and the daily variety of working with new people and on different projects.

Having given up city life for seaside dwelling, if I’m not busy tapping away you’ll probably find me down at the beach with my young children, with a large coffee in hand, or with my nose in a book. Ideally, all three.