Last week, after almost 2 months of waiting, I had an appointment with a neurologist. I’d had an MRI and bloodwork, and this was the day I was going to learn what, if anything, was wrong with me. Turns out I’m fine, which is a relief.
That’s the short version of the story. But the long version is something really important that I want to share with you today.
This weird thing has been happening for a few months now where one half of my face seems to be frozen. People were noticing. Asking if I’d had dental work done. Then it would get better. And then worse again. What I realized along the way was that this cycle of ‘better and worse’ was coinciding with how stressful I was finding my life. When my life feels stressful, my face stops moving. When it feels joyful and relaxed, my face moves freely again.
With a medical diagnosis of ‘everything is just fine’, I had to acknowledge that what is going on in my body is in direct relation to the stress I experience in my life.
When I shared about my experiences, the number 1 response was ‘you really need some more me-time’ (or some variation on that). I read and listened to that response over and over and over again. And every time I was faced with it, I felt myself rebelling and wanting to cry out “but I have lots of me time!”
So, I looked at it honestly. Here’s a little picture of what me-time looks like in my life:
- Weekday mornings I get up half an hour earlier than my daughter. This 30 minutes is time for me to take care of me. Meditation, nurturing my body, and gently arriving into my day.
- I also go for a walk for 20 minutes after dropping her off at school each day. Just me, the track, and classical music in my ears. By the time I hit my desk, I’ve had almost an hour each day that’s been focused on me.
- Every night, I give myself 30-60 minutes to read a fiction novel. And fiction is important here. I don’t read professional development or self-help books at night. Those are for working hours.
- I need 8 hours of sleep a night to function, so I make sure I get it.
- One night a week, I have a bath. A good long soak, with dead sea salts to nourish and detoxify my body.
- At least once a week I have tea with a girlfriend and I host a weekly meditation circle to have opportunities for real and meaningful connection.
- And I give myself the gift of a nap on Friday afternoons.
Seriously, I’ve got me-time covered.
I want to be clear here. Me time is important. It is one of the best things we can do for ourselves on a daily basis; to give ourselves kindness and gentleness; to pause in our otherwise full days to decompress; to nourish and nurture; to experience stillness and silence, or perhaps the freedom of movement and physical exertion.
Me-time is important because it is an opportunity to slow down and connect with the present moment. It sets you up for the rest of your day to better be able to be fully present and to handle stress better when it does happen.
But it isn’t a catch all solution to everything that ails you.
Me-time won’t fix a job you hate that is draining the life out of you. It won’t fix an abusive relationship, or even just a relationship that isn’t nurturing and fulfilling. Me-time doesn’t take away stress from finances or an over-filled schedule. It won’t stop you from worrying too much or neglecting your physical health.
No amount of me-time is going to make the parts of your life that aren’t going well better. For that, there is the opportunity to look at life to be consciously aware of what is going well and is helping you to be on track to achieve your vision for yourself (you do have a vision for your life, right?) as well as the things that need to be both changed or removed from your life as well as the things that need to start happening or happen more often.
When you have that conscious awareness and you act on it, your life starts to flow more easily, you discover a sense of hope and a positive outlook for the future, and you slowly begin to live the life you’ve always hoped to be possible. This is all possible because you are actively reducing or eliminating the things that are stressful in your life while simultaneously adding or doing more often the things that bring you pleasure and joy. You are effectively drawing boundaries around your life to define what you want and accept into your life while keeping out that which you don’t.
For all of my adult life, I’ve been consciously on this path. Consciously making better and different choices. The last 2 years have really been really intensely focused in this way. And now I’ve got a reminder that it’s time to look anew.