I recently participated in a workshop where I was challenged to do something nice for myself for one week. When we met again the following week we received another round of homework beginning with the same assignment - do something nice for yourself every day this week. Week two was more challenging than week one and this went on for four weeks.
At the end of the session I had learned three things from this particular assignment.
One, finding time to do something nice for myself is really hard. It sounds like such an easy task. Surely in 24 hours I can find time to do one nice thing for myself even if it’s going to bed 30 minutes early so I can wake up feeling rested. But more days than not I went to bed and realized I hadn’t consciously completed the assignment. That’s not to say that I didn’t get to do anything for myself. I did. There were nights when I went running with a girlfriend or out for coffee. I went to a meeting I’d been wanting to attend while my husband stayed home with the kids. But in almost every case, doing something nice for myself had to be scheduled into my day for it to happen and it didn’t happen every day.
Two, when I did things that I considered “nice” and “for me” I usually felt guilty about it because they took time away from my family. I’d think, I got to work on a project I really enjoyed (but it was still for work) or I got to write for my blog (at 10:30 at night or with two kids hanging off my legs, but I still go to do it). Don’t those things count as for me? I do enjoy working and writing, but I don’t think that’s what they had in mind when they told us to do something nice for ourselves. So, why did I feel guilty?
Three, I learned that on the days when I actually took the time to do something nice for myself I had scheduled it in, my family was usually pretty supportive because they knew it was happening and I felt really good. I had a little spring in my step. Before the “act of kindness” occurred I looked forward to it and afterward I felt renewed, a little less stressed, and a little more in tune with myself.
I highly recommend giving it a try even if you have to schedule it into your day like I did. Don’t shoot for a month, don’t even shoot for a full week. Just give it a try for a few days and see how you feel. It can be as simple as taking a morning walk or as big as planning a girls night out. Since I know we sometimes have a hard time thinking about what we want here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Head to the gym and a try a new class or visit that class you love so much, but haven’t had time for.
- Give yourself a manicure or make an appointment at the nail salon.
- Head to the bookstore and buya book you’ve been wanting to read. While you’re there stay for an hour and read the first few chapters enjoying the peace and quiet.
- Meet a friend for coffee.
- Plan a date night with your husband.
- Hit the bed 30 minutes early and read your favorite magazine or just get some extra sleep.
- Plant a big pot of your favorite flowers and put them somewhere you can see them during the day.
- Sign-up for a class that interests you. Painting, photography, sewing, gardening, writing. Whatever you like. There are lots of one-day or short-term workshops in the summer.
- Get a massage.
- Allow yourself one hour to get ready for an event (even if it’s a three year-olds birthday party) so you can go feeling and looking your best.
We all need to do nice things for ourselves. When we do, we’re more likely to feel that our needs are being met, to feel less stressed and a little happier. How’s the saying go…”When Mama’s happy…everyone’s happy.”