A brand New year… 2021… how exciting! Especially after the year we just all had, one that I feel should be referred to as “the year that should not be named” (Harry Potter fans I’m sending you a high five)!
And as we (like a phoenix!) rise out of the ashes of that tough year, I think it is important to take some time for ourselves… to recharge, to rejuvenate, to hit the reset button if you like. We’ve all been there when we’ve been stretched to the max keeping our autism families going when it seems the world around is falling apart - it takes everything we have at times. And that’s the thing, it takes everything, it drains us, it leaves our tank well below the ‘empty’ mark. And just like our trusty car, when you get to that point, you need to refuel to be able to take on the next journey…. to be there for the next time your family needs you.
And for exactly that reason, I’ve learned that self-care is not selfish. I feel this needs repeating again... self-care is not selfish! It is in fact an important and necessary tool to living an amazingly joyful life! When you practice self-care, you’re really practicing love - a love for your own well-being, but more importantly a love that fills you up and flows out to your loved ones and the rest of the world.
Self-care is different for each one of us and is a personal journey, one that may not be easy, but what if we all just tried it? Can you even imagine?
So how do we do it? Many of us rarely have the opportunity to take five minutes for ourselves given how hands-on we often need to be, let alone the time it takes to really rejuvenate. But don’t let that be a stumbling block. As we found out this weekend when we had a ‘mammoth’ task of taking down Christmas (yes, we extended the joy this year!), you can’t let yourselves get overwhelmed by the task. Instead, set yourself a small goal, achieve it, and feel great! Eat the elephant (or mammoth!) one small bite at a time. Not only did we do that and felt great, but it also spurred us into action and we achieved a lot more than we ever imagined.
A few things I’ve found that work for me are having things I can pick up for even just a few minutes. I love to craft… so I always keep a few projects on the go that I can work on as time allows... or in the evening after T has gone to bed. Right now, I’m really enjoying learning a new craft - macrame - it's fun and I can pick it up any time through my day and still be available at the drop of a hat (or macrame project!). If I have more time, and the chance to step away, I also enjoy walking and (gentle!) bike rides to take in some fresh air and the beauty of creation.
I’ve also found that many of the things I enjoy can be done with my family, making self care a family affair! And let's face it … being in ‘lockdown’ at home with my T and the hubs for coming up to a year now… we all need it! One of the things we have found joy in is painting - we recently set up our easels in the loft and are each working on our own paint by number paintings. We each are working on our own project… but together!
And if it is only a few minutes you have, make the most of them. Another self-care tool my whole family has been using more and more is meditation, we have been using the mindfulness meditation app Headspace… if you have the chance, I encourage you to check it out, it even has mediation for the kiddos… 3-8mins long and split into groups per age group. I often find my Hubs taking a 5min ‘coffee break’ meditation after his hectic mornings packed full of online meetings end.
But sometimes, you can’t find even a few minutes in the day, and you may need to make time for yourself. I have surprised myself and the Hubs to no end in getting up earlier and having my Bible time before my day really starts, it's a peaceful time for me to prepare and be still all at once! The added bonus - I am awake to enjoy the stunning sunrises we have been getting recently.
So what are you doing to take care of your own well-being? What have you found that helps you and your relationship with others, including your family?
Haven't really given yourself any self-care?…. Please please please take some time and think about what makes you happy and how you can fit it into your day and make it a priority and habit… YOU and your family and friends will thank you!
Have a blessed and delightful January