Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Extreme Self Care

After an intense period of back-to-back workshops and retreats, yesterday, I took an "extreme self care" day to rest and rejuvenate.

Being out of town (and having staff who had also been away with their families last week), left us all with a mountain of work. But, I wouldn't budge. This was my day and I was claiming it, no matter what!

I actually set aside this day on my calendar several weeks ago, knowing how full the month of October looked for me. I've found scheduling these dates in advance is the only way to make these mini-retreats possible.

An extreme self-care day is a stretch of time (preferably 8 hours, but 4 will do) where I'm completely devoted to nurturing my physical/mental/emotional/spiritual well-being. My only job is to become attuned to the needs of my body, mind and spirit--and then to nourish myself accordingly.

Hoh Rain Forest, WA Renee Peterson Trudeau

My day began by moving much slower in the morning, than I normally do (anyone who has kids can attest to how stressful mornings *can be*). I let my husband and son navigate breakfast and the search for homework, lunches and lost library books. I refused to feel rushed or check email and I really allowed myself to slow down and release the endless "to dos" that so often come knocking at our doors on Monday mornings.

After taking my son to school, I arrived at my yoga class extra early and sat in the quiet of my car, journaling. After yoga, I got a massage and then went to a nearby natural foods store where I picked up an absolutely decadent pear and a few other treats (I really focused on listening to what foods my body was telling me would truly nourish me). By doing so, I also got the news that I was dehydrated.

Afterwards, I headed home and took a long hot bath, then put on the softest, most comfortable clothes I could find. I considered riding my bike and then paused quietly to see how I felt. Tired. In need of rest. And I curled up in my favorite reading spot to finish the last of my delicious Amy Tan novel--not giving the stack of work-related or human potential books next to my nightstand a second thought.

This wonderful experience ended abruptly when I went to pick up my son from school at 2:45 p.m., but was nonetheless, well worth it. And a great reinforcement to me about the power of self-care. I was calmer and more relaxed with my family last night and entered my work week not feeling as overwhelmed as I have in the past with the "oh my god, I've been out of town forever and I don't know if I'll ever get caught up" feeling.

Is it time for you to schedule an extreme self-care day? What would it look like? How would you start your day? Would you move your body? What would you eat? Would you rest or sleep all day? What is the most decadent thing you could imagine doing (stay in your pajamas in bed all day and ordering take out!)? Would you completely unplug from phone/email/electronics all day? Would you stay in your home or go somewhere (I have a single girlfriend who travels a lot for work and often offers her beautiful, quiet home as a retreat getaway to her mom friends)?

Out of curiosity, I looked up the definition of rest. One I found was: the cessation of work, exertion, or activity.

So many of us have heard the popular phrase we're human beings, not human doings. Yet, the concept of "rest" is still foreign to many of us (it wasn't until I had my son that I started to get how beneficial this concept is for all of us--regardless of age!).

Maybe it's just me (an oldest child, recovering overachiever, perfectionist with controlling tendencies) that has a hard time knowing when to just stop and rest. Or maybe we could all benefit from a mass media campaign that counters the way-too-popular words " just do it" ? Hmmm. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one.

P.S. If this concept is new to you, you might want to check out the chapter on The Transformative Power of Self-Care from my book, you can go to www.ReneeTrudeau.com and download two free sample chapters from the right column of the home page.


Molly said...

I would really like to try this idea and need to "just do it" ;-) I find that I perpetually leave the self-nourishing activities for "when I catch up," but my personality is not one that permits me to "catch up"! (another perfectionist, oldest child, with controlling tendencies here...)

Thanks for the great post.


renee trudeau said...

It takes a lot of practice for self-care to become intregral to your day-to-day life (in years past, when I felt overloaded at work, self-care was the LAST thing I was thinking about). And, I'm a big believer that the more we can encourage one another to nourish ourselves first--the more we tend to take time for this. (That's why being in a PRG can be so helpful.) Thanks for keeping the dialogue going! Renee