After all, most of us are responsible to and concerned for other people in our lives. We serve as partners, friends, colleagues, caregivers, guardians or advocates of some kind. We are engaged in relationships with people who need or expect some connection with us.
Yet if I don’t make it a priority to pay attention to my own wellbeing, who will do it for me? Admittedly, I don’t claim to know what that means for everyone else. Probably you know what’s good for you, and what’s not. You know what you want to do, what you should do, and what you’ll do anyway …
I have a well-intentioned debate with myself almost every day. It takes on countless variations. Sleep in or wake up for yoga? Drink caffeine or water? Take the stairs or use the elevator? Walk or drive?
So this is just another reminder to me … and anyone else who needs it … to make time for what helps maintain equilibrium.
- Sleep. (It’s the greatest gift we can give our bodies and minds, which are designed to rely on this daily renewal in order to operate at best capacity.)
- Movement and exercise. (Our bodies work better when we use them. People in recover from joint replacements, for instance, are often supported and encourage to move as soon as possible, especially to reclaim as much function as possible.)
- Nutrition. (Eat well. Hydrate. Choose healthy meals. Refuel.)
- Spiritual practice. (Prayer, meditation, reflection, journaling, music, etc.)
- Pastime or avocation. (Something you love to do, that engages a different part of the brain or different muscles, changes your rhythm and focus, and helps you switch gears. Maybe it’s yoga or running or reading or crossword puzzles or cooking.)
Today, in a “being well” session during a week-long orientation at Harvard University, we were encouraged to continue our spiritual and physical self-care practices, regardless of how hectic life gets. After all, when we’re the most pressed for time and energy, when we’re pulled in too many directions, when we’re overwhelmed … that’s exactly when we need balance the most.
The reminder was posed as, “We go in, so we can go out.” This was the wisdom offered by Kerry Maloney from the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Harvard Divinity School. Her challenge suggested that we take care of ourselves (“go in”) so that we can serve others (“go out”).
By this, she meant that we turn inward … that we engage in self-care at the level of mind, body and spirit … so that all those integrated aspects of ourselves are whole and in good health. By maintaining internal equilibrium, we have resources and energy available to share with our loved ones and our larger community.
It’s a timely reminder, as we hasten toward the next page in the calendar, and enter an autumn humming with appointments, commitments, obligations and activities.