Today I took a day off for myself. I made peace with the messy house and relaxed expectations around my level of engagement with the children, preferring to use the opportunity instead to show them the importance of boundaries around self-care.
Our fast-paced culture doesn’t leave much time and doesn’t seem to put value on the practice of self-care. Yet each time we take time out – a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, a few weeks – the benefits are profound. We have more energy, more inspiration and more creativity to put into our ventures. More importantly, we have more to put into our relationships and to give to others.
Creating time for a mini-retreat every day or weekend retreat can actually be easier than you think. It can be as simple as enjoying a cup of tea in the garden, or as deep as a day in silence, contemplation and even fasting. It can be 5 minutes or a few hours. What’s important is that the time is spent on activities that truly nourish your soul – perhaps reading, journaling, listening to or making music, a long hot bath, meditating, spending time in nature.
Sometimes, for mothers especially, a well-timed nap or a long lie-in can bring relief in the face of hours and days of exhaustion and resisting the natural urge to have a rest. When our bodies are crying out for attention, it is ok to honour that request. More than ok, it’s essential.
It’s interesting to observe the resistance that arises. Often a sense of guilt, perhaps fear that something isn’t getting done. Perhaps a reluctance to ask for the support that we need from others to give ourselves the break we need. Yet even in the corporate world, I usually see admiration for those who set boundaries that protect their priorities, values and personal lives. Any judgement and resentment that arises perhaps reflects an unrecognised need for more self-care or boundaries in the observer.
At Eco Retreats, guests experience the joy of having the space just to be for a little while. In the middle of the forest, miles from shops, with barely a cellphone signal, there’s not a lot that can be done during a weekend retreat. And so pressures around “doing” subside, leaving more space for “being”. There’s time to enjoy slowly cooking over an open fire, eating outside or gradually warming the water for a bath. Fully engaging in the simple process of day-to-day living can be remarkably rejuvenating, as multi-tasking and to do lists are forgotten while you are with us.
Whether we invest in a weekend off-grid retreat in the forest or make a commitment to taking 5 minutes a day to nurture our souls, I hope we can all give ourselves and each other more permission to take the time out we need, so that we may all return with more to give.