Summer is supposed to be the most relaxing time of year. A season for fun and soaking up the sun. But this summer I've been exhausted. I've run around, allowed stress to get the better of me and, like usual, prioritized others over myself. This weekend I hit a low after yet again putting myself and my needs on the back burner.
While laying in bed and playing back the weekend's difficult events, I contemplated what I could do to make things better. Quickly and clearly, the answer came: Take 30 minutes a day for self care. Not 30 minutes a day to exercise, make lunch, do laundry or clean my home. Not 30 minutes a day to walk the dog, help a colleague or run an errand that my mom needs done. Rather, 30 minutes a day to nourish my spirit and reconnect with what brings me joy.
So tonight I started. I went to Central Park, set my alarm for 30 minutes later and put away my phone. While enjoying a salad for dinner, I watched ducks waddle on to land and be fed by a passerby, felt awe at sighting a beautiful heron in the distance and enjoyed getting caught up in the romance of two young lovers practicing cartwheels on the soft grass. About 15 minutes into the 30, I could feel my blood pressure calm and, by the end of the 30 minutes, I felt truly relaxed. Yes, I realized: 30 minutes makes a difference!
For years, I've gone back and forth with self care. I'll hit a low and immediately do a 180 and start prioritizing my needs. But then, after any given period of time, I'll slip, forget about self care and land right back at ground zero, only to have to start all over again.
So here I am, challenging myself to make a commitment to prioritize self care for 30 minutes a day (an hour feels too overwhelming for a weekday and 20 minutes feels like too little - though for others, less or more than 30 minutes might be just the right amount of time! And, certainly, if I end up having more than 30 minutes a day to focus on self care, I'm going to do so!). I'm challenging myself to not just start but MAINTAIN a practice of self care. To pause. Notice. Appreciate. Relax. Rejuvenate. And I'm inviting you to join me! Let's motivate each other in being loving to ourselves. For truly, we can only be good to others (our parents, siblings, significant others, friends, colleagues and even strangers) when we've first tended to our own needs.
What will your 30 minutes a day look like? Is it:
-reading a book
-communing with nature
-doing a craft
-relaxing in a bath
-eating delicious food
-taking a walk
For me, it's all of the above plus the following:
-No electronics. That's right, for 30 minutes a day, I'm turning off my phone and computer. No email, social media or internet. I use electronics all day and these 30 minutes are about unplugging and focusing on myself and my surroundings.
-Again, no tasks like laundry, cleaning or errands (yes, it's true that accomplishing such tasks clears my mind and helps me feel relaxed, but checking items off a daily 'to do' list is not the same as true self-care).
-No doing for others! Don't get me wrong: It's critically important to be there for family, friends, and others but these 30 minutes are for me and no one else. They are to recharge my battery so that I actually have the energy to give to both myself and others.
And that's it! Those are the only rules I'm creating. The rest is up to me, my imagination and what I plan for any given day or how I'm feeling in a spontaneous moment.
I really hope that you'll join me in this journey. If you like the idea, please comment on the article, find me on social media (@jesslipps) or tag #30minutesaday to your posts. I can't wait to see what you come up with! I'm already breathing a sigh of relief knowing that tomorrow will bring at least 30 minutes of a break, which I already need even after tonight's 30 minutes!