Self-Care

2017-06-05 12.10.09.jpgI wonder when I will ever learn? Yesterday four of us ran the Sunday service at our church. It was a very high energy morning because we are drama group and we have lots of ideas. The service was great and we got some amazing feedback. But then I crashed. I’ve just had an email from one of the others involved and she crashed too. We were both exhausted from it all. It was not just the morning doing but all the prep beforehand. I should know by now that this happens. That adrenaline high followed by the anti-climaxed crash. It happened to me in the summer after I had finished the WWI project with Gwrych Castle. Both things were amazing but both things left me afterwards exhausted and with the “never again” feeling.

But what did I learn from the summer? I learned that I need to take care of myself, give myself some self-care. Not because there is no one who will care for me, but because only I know what is best for me. Only I know how I feel at that moment. So yesterday

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WWI at Gwrych July 2018

after stripping beds off from three sets of Airbnb guests and putting on a load of washing I went for a bath. You may wonder why I did not go for the bath first. Well one area of self-care for me was that I needed to have those rooms stripped, bins emptied and to be in a place to be remade when next I got some energy because it gives me peace of mind. My husband did offer to help but I knew that even if he had done it I would still have had to go and check that all was done as I would like. Sounds controlling. Maybe it is but I know it is part of my self-care.

Once the washing was on and husband and dog were out on a long walk I could run a bath and relax into it. After the bath I read and read. Broken only by making supper and watching Dr Who and some journaling before I went to bed. I did not engage with messages that came through. Even though I did read them. Replies have waited until today. I was in bed by 8pm with my book and asleep by just after 9.

DSCN0819 (1).JPGThis has always been my way of self-care; a hot bubble bath, a good book and early to bed. I resisted the chocolates and the glass of wine because even though they hit the spot at the time they cause problems with my stomach and I don’t sleep so well. Again I wanted long self-care not an instant hit.

Regarding self-care I think we can often read books or blogs that tell us we must do this or that for self-care and, much as I think these things full of great ideas, I think each of us must decide what works for us. As I said in a talk I did during the service yesterday “nothing can be forced upon us unless we allow it but the only way we can know what are things we want to allow into our lives is just to slow down a bit and work out what we want or not want.” We can be moving too fast at time and not know what it is we want or do not want. For other people self-care might be climbing a mountain, going for  long walk, going to the cinema. The list is endless but we need to each decide what helps us out and not get swept along with doing what we think we ought to do.

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Waking Early

I love the magazine The Week. My news comes from The Week’s weekly’ round up, a daily Guardian email and either Mock The Week or Have I Got News For You on BBC.  The Week is my Friday read, either lunch time or the evening. I go from cover to cover. But this week The Week’s editorial annoyed me.

There has been an interesting bit of research that suggests that women who get up early are less likely to get breast cancer than women who don’t get up early. Joylon, the editor of The Week, appeared to get a bit up tight and to say that these women who got up early were not getting enough sleep and should “have a lie in”. The reason it riled me was

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Wake when you are ready

because I am an early rise. I have no reason to get up early, no job to rush off to, no kids to get up, but every morning without fail I wake between 5.30-6,30. There is nothing I can do about it. Do I get enough sleep? I hope so because most nights my light is out by 10-10.30pm. I am not up late trying to get lots of things done. I just have a body that wakes naturally early. I repeat there is nothing I can do about it.

For most of my life I have been an early riser. There have been times in my life where it may not have looked like I was but that was because I have been awake in the night for a few hours and was having to catch up. Yes I have had those times when I have not had enough sleep. I used to be a barmaid – though that was in the good old days when pubs rang last orders at 10.50 and called time at 11pm – and would not get home till gone midnight and still wake early.

My son’s sleep pattern is like clockwork. I’m not sure what time he now goes to bed because he doesn’t live with me, but the times he comes to stay he is still up between 7-7.30 just like he used to be as a child. My daughter on the other hand is a late riser. As a baby and a young child she never slept, or so it seemed and could be wake until  10pm or later then awake at 5.30.body clock She was not a child that slept for 10-12 hours but got in her 7 and that was enough for her for then. But when she hit her teenage years she got the hang of sleeping and made up for it. She can now sleep from 10-10 if need be. She can get up at 7 if she needs to for work but her natural waking time is after 9 and probably nearer 10. My husband very rarely comes to bed with me. Preferring to be up and doing things till gone 11 but even on a working day is not up before 7,30 and when he can let his body clock rule him he will not rise till after 8.30.

So there maybe those super-heroes who try to survive on 4-5 hours sleep, and maybe they can do alright even if the studies say we all should sleep for more. There maybe those who try to pack lots into their day and so set alarms for earlier so they can do. Yes I do hear of writers who are advised to get up an hour earlier to fit in their writing around a busy schedule. I must say, even though I love to write in these early hours before the world begins, I do not think it wise to push for it unless your body clock works that way. I know it can be hard to fit in all that you want to do in a day but I think that often it is better to do less with quality than too much without that depth.

So maybe Joylon is correct in saying “lie in” but I think that is only true if those people are trying to fit too much into their day. I think “SLOW DOWN” would be a better shout. Slow-down.jpgCut out some of those things that fill your day. I worry now when I see children doing lots of after school classes and getting very little down time, very little time to just be bored. They maybe getting in their 8 hours plus sleep but they are  not getting any down time in the either day.

So don’t criticise or praise those of us who get up early. Each of us needs to look to ourselves and work out what we really need to be doing with our day. Wisely doesn’t mean filling it full of “meaningful” things but making sure we all have that right ebb and flow of doing and just chilling out.