Have you ever felt overwhelmed by a mile-long to-do list? Feeling the weight of various responsibilities resting heavily on your shoulders, anxious at the thought of not being able to do all the things that need doing, and already so tired you want to give up before you’ve even started?
The other day, I was doing my best to diligently get through the list I had given myself. Recognizing it was Sunday (the day I usually like to embark on a “Sunday Stroll” in nature), I had set a time-goal for myself to go for a walk, amidst other items on my list. When the time came for my walk, I still didn’t feel like I had made enough progress on my other tasks to be able to “reward myself” with the walk. I rationalized I’d enjoy my walk more if I spent another hour getting through more of my list. As I continued to plow away under the influence of my taskmaster, the space for my walk evaporated as the clock showed it was time for another pre-determined duty.
In a burst of what felt like temporary insanity, I raced out the door to salvage what I could of a nature walk (bumping my next item “just a bit” later, figuring that going for even a small amount of nature time would refresh and help me focus on my next endeavour more effectively - I’m so glad I listened to that voice!). I sometimes have a battle of wills between being obedient to my taskmaster, and going on strike (usually to do something fun and/or “frivolous”). Perhaps a dialogue between my head and my heart? Between "should" and "want"?...
To really make the most of my shortened nature walk, I decided to focus all my attention on my surroundings: soaking up the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings of being immersed in nature. The sun had come out from behind the clouds, the tide was high, and I was the only one at the beach. I waded into the water, and thoroughly enjoyed the ocean’s caress (almost a sting, really, from the chill - but a gentle nip at that, Lol), along with making sure I wasn’t stepping on any unsuspecting crabs underfoot. The sun’s light dappled on the gentle rippling waves, and I eagerly filled my lungs with the salty air. The light on the water reflected on the trees that stood at the shore, and I enjoyed imagining the secret realm of the tiny bugs that buzzed within their branches’ protection. I listened to the sound of the water lapping the pebbly shore, and the seabirds that occasionally flew nearby. I was captivated by the ever-changing vista as the sun and clouds sashayed across the sky, taking turns who was “on top”. Every time the sun beams hit my face, I relished their late-afternoon warmth. I felt my shoulders begin to relax away from my ears, and a spontaneous grin took over my face. I was rejoicing to be experiencing a moment of bliss, and as one moment gave way to another moment (and another, another), I settled into the Present as a gift. Ahhhhh...
When I felt complete, that I had enough of a walk to feel myself “reset” to a more calm and content version of myself, I started the return journey. I felt rejuvenated, and ready to meet the rest of my day. My breathing was full and the air felt sweet. I was restored.
Finding myself back where I’d started, I checked the time and found (to my surprise) that only half an hour had elapsed! I could hardly believe I experienced such a shift, in such a short amount of time! For me, it was an excellent lesson that taking time for my own self-care needn’t take long to feel thoroughly revitalizing! Hallelujah!
I re-solidified my commitment to carve out (and guard, protect, honour) time for acts that nourish my soul, and prioritize regular self-care - this keeps my internal happiness battery charged, which in turn helps me find delight in the tasks on my list (and anyone I may encounter along the way), with grace. Amen.
I am so grateful when life presents us with lessons to help us recognize experiencing joy is not only possible, it’s closer than we may think!
Would you like to share an “a-ha moment” you’ve experienced, in regards to prioritizing your own self-care? How did honouring yourself in this way help others?
I welcome all respectful comments below :)