The last few weeks in September I was feeling quite overwhelmed, and, putting my hand up, my self-care totally fell out of the window.
It seems for quite a few people September was a bit of a whirlwind. Back to school and back to work for many, with lots of opportunities, things to do, places to be. I said yes to too many things – different jobs (where I still do some freelancing), clients, opportunities with my coaching and the different areas I am building in my own business; I’d also-organised some social get-togethers, and had agreed to cat-sit for three weeks (which meant needing to visit the cat every day, which took an hour out of my day just in travel time).
I was running around like a headless chicken and just ticking things off as they went by, counting down the days – until what, I didn’t know; it felt a bit like I was on a hamster wheel.
On top of that, running around London and having to be with the cat meant I didn’t take the time to buy healthy food and cook meals. Instead I was eating a lot of vegan pizzas and fast, easy food like wraps, salt and vinegar crisps and pre-made soups. I found myself wanting to drink alcohol more than I have in years – as an instinctive response to ‘escape’ at the end of the day, which I gave in to.
I didn’t do any exercise, finding the only thing I wanted to do was sleep when I got home, and my calming, self-reflective practices like journaling and meditation seemed like a distant memory.
It definitely all got to be too much and there were a few moments when I felt totally overwhelmed, unlike myself. There were some tears. At first I was annoyed at myself for letting my self-care completely fall away and for saying yes to so many different things. But, awareness is the first step in changing any situation and rather than dwelling on it and beating myself up for what I ‘could have done,’ I decided to learn from the situation, turn it around, and within one week I am feeling like me again!
So, in case you are going through a similar thing, or do in the future (and I don’t doubt it will come up for me again too), I’m sharing the few things I did, which helped me get back to me.
I didn’t judge myself for what was happening. It was what it was, and judgment won’t change anything. Instead I asked myself what I needed and started to give myself those things.
I realised I needed to get out of my head and into my body. I made myself do a short 15-minute yoga class at home, and I felt amazing! I felt my arms, my legs and my body for the first time in weeks and it was like a soothing balm. This made it easier to get back into my routine.
I was craving veggies – so I bought a load of seasonal ones and made a few different delicious meals to keep in the fridge and freezer – lentils, pak choi and tofu, cavolo nero and grilled aubergine. Eating these nutritious foods instantly helped me feel better.
I started to say no and cancel a few things I’d already booked in my diary. Ironically I was due to go to a networking event which included a talk on self-care, but chose to stay at home practicing self-care instead of going to an event on it.
I’ve prioritised some moments of nothing-ness. Space to just be, write, meditate, walk in nature near my home. I was craving spaciousness and have diarised it for the next month so I can be sure to have it.
I’m not drinking for a while again, it was making me feel sluggish and bloated – being a little bit strict with myself is what I personally need right now, so that’s what I’ve chosen for myself.
I know we all have different things and what works for one person may not work for another. All I can do is encourage you to experiment; remember you are worth the time and energy it takes. Only you can prioritise you, and you have to set the boundaries in place to do this.
It is a journey, life is cyclical, there is no destination. The more I grow, the more I learn and all I can do is keep doing what I can to help me feel as happy and healthy as I can be (so I can give as much as I can to others and myself).
How do you help yourself when things don’t go so well or life ‘takes over’?