The first advise I received for this post came from a longtime friend. What she had to say made a lot of sense. She told me to make uninterrupted time for myself. She explained that sometimes we get so caught up in doing things for everyone else that we forget we need to come first now and again in order to stay sane. This advice may seem quite obvious and since I am a mental health counselor, it is something I often tell my patients. Self care is extremely important and frequently overlooked. Living in New York City, it is easy to get caught up with the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. There is work and working out. There are happy hours and brunch and commuting to be done. By the time I get home and I am ready to fall into bed only to wake up and do it all over again.
There are a lot of ways to make time for yourself. I try to read before I go to bed and I also have a “Thought A Day” journal that I don’t keep up with as I should. Despite doing these little things, I often go to bed stressed and fitful sleep is the result. So I thought I would try to slow things down and give guided meditation a try. For those that know me, they will understand the challenge behind this. I like to move and I have seemingly endless amounts of energy; my thoughts and my body are always on the go.
For five days I attempted guided meditation. I really enjoyed getting in tune with my breathing, but I was not able to stay still for more than 10 minutes. It didn’t help that my cat would come up and sit in my lap or put her wet nose on my leg and brush up against my hands for a petting. Despite these distractions, I found that I slept better and the first night that I used guided meditation, I did not wake up once. Even just five minutes of deep breathing allowed a sense of calm to come over my body and I reaped the benefits. Is this something that I will continue to do daily? Probably not. However, it is a tool I will use for particularly stressful days or days when I can’t get my brain to stop moving a mile a minute.
The advice that I should take time for myself is something that I will put more effort in to remembering. Alone is OK. It is not something to be scared of and it is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, moving forward, it is something I will try to do at least onece a week. Maybe one week I will book myself a facial or a massage. Another week, I will take myself out on a date to the movies or dinner. As a society, we do not put enough emphasis on spending quality time with oneself. This advice was a gentle reminder to take care of myself. I always tell people that you will not be able to take care of anyone else if you cannot first take care of yourself. Now, it is time to practice what I preach.
I will leave you with an excerpt from “How to be Alone” by Tanya Davis.
things you may have previously avoided based on your avoid-being-alone principles.
The lunch counter, where you will be surrounded by chow-downers,
employees that only have an hour
and their spouses work across town
and so they, like you, will be alone.
Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone.
When you are comfortable with eat-lunch-and-run, take yourself out for dinner,
a restaurant with linen and silverware.
You’re no less intriguing a person when you’re eating solo dessert
and cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger;
in fact, some people at full tables will wish they were where you were
Go to the movies
where it is dark and soothing
alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.
And, then, take yourself out dancing,
to a club where no one knows you
stand on the outside of the floor
until the lights convince you more and more
and the music shows you.
Dance like no one’s watching
(’cause they are probably not)
and, if they are, assume it is with best and human intentions,
the way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting.
This is thirty.