The Paradox of Self-Care

Last week I gave a talk about the Art of Self Care. We discussed what self-care is, why we don't practice enough of it and how to bring more into our lives. You can listen to it here.  

In the talk I posed the question: "Why are we not taking care of ourselves?". Can you guess the answer?

"I don't have time".   

It's true that self-care takes time. I practice 20-40 minutes of yoga in the morning and 15 minutes of meditation. I take 5 minutes to massage my body with oil and 20 minutes to lie on my bed of nails before bed (this is my most recent obsession - my family thinks I'm crazy but it dissolves tension and relaxes me more than anything else!).   

With our already full schedules how can we possibly fit another hour or 2 of stuff into our day??  

The paradox is, although self-care takes time, it creates time.   

Let me explain. Exercise works like ritalin. When we take time to get fit and strong, we become more focused, more productive and more clear-headed. We can get more done in less time and with better results. When I don't do my morning practices I drag myself through the day and everything seems to take longer.  

Like exercise, meditation also improves cognitive performance. Learning to sit and do nothing can help you be more efficient. A recent study by University of Washington researchers found that meditation training helped workers concentrate better, remember more of their work details, stay energized and experience less negative moods. 

In my own experience meditation makes me more mindful so that I'm less likely to make mistakes (saves time by not having to fix them later), I'm more intentional (I spend my time on things that matter and waste less time on things that don't) and I'm more relaxed and don't feel perpetually rushed and behind the 8-ball.  

The practices I do to ground me like self-massage, taking a bath, and other relaxation rituals slow time down and calm my nervous system so that I'm rejuvenated and energized for when I need to get stuff done. Relax and you'll be actually be more productive.