Selfcare is not selfish or indulgent.
It is the very OPPOSITE of selfish to keep yourself fit and well.
Who is going to look after the egg(s) properly, if the Chicken is tired, weak, undernourished and demoralised? Do you need to focus on gaining energy? 10 Rest Tips today – essential reading for Mums (and their physiotherapists!)
Lessons learned (already) in 2020!
I was invited to go to a 3 hour workshop last weekend called NOURISH! – a lovely word-play on the combined skills of the leaders, Lavinia Brown (a life coach @bobmama_net) and Zoe Kirby (a nutritionist & yoga teacher @zoekirbynutrition). Both inspiring local Cambridge women.
The first step, was taking time to reflect (again) that the need to care for ourselves – mind and body – has to co-exist with all the demands that come with being a Mama Chicken (or Papa Cockerel, of course). And eggs don’t just come disguised as newly hatched chicks. There are career eggs, elderly parent eggs & partner eggs, not forgetting house, garden, friends, & pet-type eggs too.
Lavinia focused on the need for REST. Not mindfulness. Not sleep. Something a bit different. Something I hadn’t realised was different, or missing. REST.
Do we need it?
Lavinia led a brainstorm of ways to recognise that we need REST.
Together, we reflected on the familiar, but often ignored, Physical, Mental and Emotional signs & signals, that tell us that our body & mind are struggling to perform. They are different and combine uniquely for each of us. Think headache, loss of attention, and tearfulness as examples in each category. You may not know yet what yours are – but I bet you have an inkling of a few?
Signs & signals that rest is needed
Since the workshop, I have further simplified how to recognise my own need for rest. The analogy that is working for me is visualising myself as a Phone Battery. I am on the look out for LOW POWER MODE. If I peer into myself I’m no longer in the green. I’m in yellow. My internal voice is trying to say – girl watch out – you are dangerously close to red where Nothing Functions Well and next stop is burn out (physical = tight neck, mental = scattered + overwhelmed, emotional = short fuse and/or tears depending on hormone-levels!).
It’s when I need to Plug-IN
So REST for me is the analogy of plugging my phone into the wall for a short re-charge. Not that routine long-charging of my phone, to reliably give me the whole of tomorrow. That’s SLEEP. Rest is rather a choice to give up using my phone completely for 10 minutes, in order to benefit by getting sufficiently back into the green. Getting enough battery power for a proper 2 hours of full-function ahead. Delayed gratification in it’s most difficult manifestation?
We DO have choices
Since I started to think of Rest like this, it’s been fascinating to have noticed the choices I make regularly, subconciously (and mostly correctly) for my phone. I’m habitually on it. My phone rarely catches me out. So why should my body battery? REST now feels like a positive CHOICE that I make for myself. And a pleasantly guiltless no-brainer too.
Now, it doesn’t seem selfish or indulgent to ask myself “Do I want to get through my afternoon clinic offering my patients the best me, clear thinking, enthusiastic, energetic?” Of course. Then it’s perfectly OK to stop, close my door, eat my lunch, breathe & BE for 10 minutes. Me, plugged in.
Yes, even for naptimes!
Reflecting back to my own baby-days, sometimes, (not often enough), I would make the decision to shut my eyes FIRST as soon as baby was asleep. Even if I only had 20 mins half-nap I was always SO much more productive during the remaining time than if I had not bothered.
My 10 take home Rest Tips
(part inspirational Lavinia, part workshop after-thoughts)
|# 1 A rest is as good as a sleep. |
One of my mother’s favorite expressions. Meaning just lie there and “be”. This has value. Even (especially) at 2am.
|# 2 Activities can be rest-full. |
REST doesn’t have to mean Doing Nothing. Rest can be classic activities like walking, reading a book, gardening, baking, or doing some Yoga practice. Lavinia also pointed out activities which don’t appear “restful” at first glance, yet can be enriching and enlivening, such as having coffee with a friend, drinks out with the girls, going to an energetic exercise class, even cleaning (… as long as multi-tasking doesn’t take you longer to get out of the yellow than if you just literally plugged in and didn’t touch your phone for 10). If the intention (and effect) is to recharge your battery, not deplete it, you could have a long list of options.
|#3 Rest can be INVIGORATING or SOOTHING. |
Lavinia highlighted that we need each of these at different times. And that a single activity might be used for either gain (eg Pilates can be energising or relaxing depending what you choose to do) or going for a run might equally fire you up for your day ahead or allow your mind to clear from the one you just had.
|#4 QRT – QUALITY REST TIME|
QRT is a similar concept I have heard of in the past. We identify our QRT options by taking time to notice the activities that feel like quality time even though you are busy – they are the ones that put you in “the zone” where time goes by without you noticing and/or feeling depleted by the task.
|#5 Put the BIG rocks in first. |
That old chestnut. REST FIRST, there is always space to DO more. Particular relevant to naptimes?!?
|#6 Make a go-to list for yellow moments |
When you are in LOW POWER MODE it is likely that your thought processes are slower, so it is harder to think what would get you out of the mode. Keep your list handy.
|#7 Why don’t we rest? |
How do we self-sabotage our intentions? WHY do we do this? This part of the workshop was incredibly valuable but personal. Not prepared to share! But do a tiny bit of thinking and you will know that we all do this. Multiple reasons!
|#8 ACCEPT low power mode|
Sometimes you truly CAN’T actually plug in. But I’ve noticed there is another potential choice – if I don’t want to go red I might have to accept that some functions need to switch off, or are just not an option anymore. I have to choose wisely how to use my last bit of power.
For example when I find it’s impossible to make brainy decisions, I can still get some banking done, or answer some low-key emails . Or I persuade myself & The Child into a simple card game, as less effort than arguing over homework. I’ve even been known to curl up for some TV-time. I need to Power Right Down until I can find a proper
|#9 Don’t be the Victim|
Lavinia’s harshest truth (put very kindly of course). Am I waiting for someone to give me permission to rest? Or offer me the rest on a plate – “ooh you look tired, here sit down, I’ll cook dinner….”. Sure that would be nice but she points out that we disempower our Self by waiting for a Shining Knight , with the risk of becoming bitter and resentful when one doesn’t turn up. Do I go around plugging other people’s phones in for them? No. Do I even remind other people to charge their phones? No! It is MY responsibility to keep my phone charged.
| #10 Anticipate: spot patterns|
Why am I overwhelmed by friends for supper tonight? Why did I say let’s meet up but now wish I could go to bed? I want to ENJOY the social stuff like I planned, not resent that I overcommitted? This is definitely one of my regular patterns. How to refresh a work-depleted Friday night battery? Get a proper boost to see me through a fun & fulfilling late night? I’m experimenting with a) knowing I need to do this and b) methods – Long soak or quick shower? Read for 10 mins? Sort the socks with a podcast?!
What are your triggers/patterns?
Have you noticed that with Small Ones, 4pm is no longer the end of the day? It is merely the lull – before the real work begins! Teatime, bathtime & bedtime are physically and mentally Hard Work. Could you re-charge/re-boost just before it all kicks off? Or get baby to bed, then have 20 mins “time-out” so that you can re-focus on your relationship with your partner and your own personal to-do list – rather than an antisocial crash-out from exhaustion?
# Bonus . And one for you – Reframe?
Do you want to go to your regular postnatal class, Pilates (spinning, run, swim ….) but feel that your power mode is too low to even get you out the door? Perhaps Re-frame? Going to your class could be the equivalent of plugging yourself in for an hour, giving you a couple of day’s worth of power, in exchange for that short weary drive (in practically red-mode) to get you to the hall/studio/pool?
Does this concept of Rest vs sleep resonate with you?? Which of the Rest Tips had your name on it? What do you do to stay out of the yellow zone? How to you re-charge?