June 21, 2013 by Vicki
In general, women have difficulty taking time to relax. Many women of my acquaintance do not know what it means to “play” as an adult. They struggle to play with their children because they have so much difficulty understanding the concept. Of course, a large part of the difficulty lies in the amount of responsibility so many women bear. They feel responsible for their family, their parents, their children, their significant other, and their work. In my Action Plan post, I outlined that you cannot care for another person if you are not healthy and happy yourself. I have seen women turn themselves inside out in an effort to help another person and, in the end, be foiled by their own declining health. We need to recognize that we have the right to relax and play. We also have the responsibility, first and foremost, to look after ourselves.
What does “taking care of ourselves” mean? To take care of ourselves is to do for ourselves what we fight to make others do: to go to sleep at a decent time to ensure eight hours of rest, and to eat proper meals to make sure we receive all of the protein, minerals, vitamins etc that our bodies require. To take care of ourselves also requires that we recognize when we need time for ourselves and when we need time to relax.
“But, Vicki,” I hear you say “I don’t have time to relax. I have so many obligations and responsibilities.” It is your obligation and responsibility to yourself to take time to relax. Do you remember the VHS tape? It was a box that held a roll of film that you could play on your TV via a player. Now, to access the start of the movie, you would have to rewind the tape. Experienced movie owners knew that you should always leave your VHS tape unwound until you wished to watch the movie. If you rewound the tape and left it on the shelf, then the tape would constantly be pulled tight. Eventually, the tape would start to degrade due to the strain placed upon it. We function much the same way; if we live under constant strain, we start to degrade. We start over-reacting to events and no longer appear rationale to friends and family. We may develop health conditions or even suffer a heart attack or stroke. Don’t leave yourself on the shelf all wound up. Take the time to unwind.
Everyone has activities that help them to relax. Start with those activities. If walking the dog makes you feel better than pick up the leash and go for an extra half hour a day. If going grocery shopping lets your shoulders start to go down, then make that your time. Go by yourself so you don’t have the strain of dealing with the family. Stop and have a coffee. Enjoy the moment. Whatever it is that lets you relax then go and do it. Give yourself permission to an hour a day for you.
Once you start allowing yourself time, your mind and body will start making suggestions on how to play. Listen to those suggestions. You find yourself remembering how fun it was to ride your bike as a child. Pick up a bike and go riding. Suddenly find yourself craving a bubble bath; go for it. Give yourself permission to have fun. We learn best by having fun and life is all about learning.