For a long time, I’ve seen it as necessary to prioritise my self-help and self-care over having a life. Mainly because without taking good care of myself, I know I’m going to be too unwell to have a life anyway! However, I’ve also realised how easy it is to get caught up in the worry that if you let go of some of your self-help, it’s all going to go horribly wrong. And when life get’s in the way of you being able to do what you think you need to do it can feel really stressful. However, it’s my experience that it’s this perception and worry that actually makes it more likely that your health will suffer, than the brief absence of certain practices.
This week I had the pleasure of a visit from one of my oldest, closest friends. Before she came I had an unrealistic expectation that I’d be able to spend quality time with her as well as keeping on top of my work and self-care routines. When I first realised that there were just not enough hours in the day for me to really be able to enjoy her visit and show her a good time and keep on top of everything else, I made a choice. Letting go of work was relatively easy, even though I haven’t got enough income coming in at the moment, I was able to give myself permission to cut back to minimum and take a little holiday. However, the choosing to let go of some of my self-help caused a little panic at first. What’s more, I felt guilty about not doing everything I possibly could to be as healthy as possible.
But then I recognised that the guilt and panic weren’t doing me any favours either. What if I just chose to let go and go with the flow for a few days. What if I chose to prioritise life over self-help and enjoy my friends visit as much as I could?
The fact is that my energy did dip, the drive to pick her up from the nearest city unfortunately led to the fact that we started her visit with my energy being below my recent elevated baseline. Usually I would respond to a below baseline day by focusing completely on rest and recuperation, but I made another choice. I chose to have as much quality time with my friend as I could, pacing it as much as I could with rest when I knew I needed it, and letting go completely of any worry about doing the wrong thing.
It was just 3 days, I chose to trust that I would cope and that my energy would bounce back as soon as I could get my self-care practises going again. I relaxed and had a lovely time.
Even though my energy has taken a hit, I don’t regret that choice. Letting go of the worry and the guilt minimised the damage considerably. So maybe it will take a few days to get back to my previous great energy levels, but who cares when I got to live!
Life is all about making choices and dealing with their consequences. I had a lovely time in great company, but now I am enjoying having the space to prioritise my self-care, I’m realising how much I get out of those practises. They are no longer things I have to do in order to have a semblance of a life, they are things I can choose to do, things that I love to do because they give me better energy. They’re not an obligation, they’re a choice. And if I want to, I can sometimes choose to prioritise life!
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