Saturday, 26 October 2013

"But will you…?" or making time to nurture yourself

I recently saw a discussion online between crafters and artisans, expressing their frustration at craft fair visitors who dismiss their work with “I could make that at home”. One participant had a great response, which was to ask them “but will you?”

There’s a big gap between what you could do and what you will do – time, energy, prioritisation and habit inevitably whittle down the list of great intentions to our actual actions. Sometimes, if you want that beautiful hand crafted gift, you’d do better to buy it from the expert at the fair than try to fit in making it yourself between work, family and all your other commitments (and maybe feeling let down if you don’t manage it).

Lucinda Cracknell Massage - on the massage table
A massage is time for yourself
For many years I used to see a therapist on a Thursday evening at 6 after work (back when I still worked in an office). I’d make sure I finished work in time to get to her, and planned other arrangements around those appointments. It was my commitment to looking after myself, and it worked well. The time came to end those sessions, but I still wanted to take the time to nurture myself, so I planned to continue to set aside that hour on a Thursday evening, for meditation and reflection, quiet down time for me. Then one week there was a deadline at
work, and I stayed a bit later. I decided it made more sense to go shopping straight from work and have “me time” a bit later – then I was hungry so I ate first, and tired, so an early night seemed like a good idea – that’s looking after myself as well, right? – and just like that the routine I’d had for years was gone; somehow I no longer had time for looking after me.

It turned out that, while in theory “I could do that at home”, when it came to “but will I?”, the answer was no.

A session with a massage therapist is time taken to look after yourself. There’s the physical work to ease pain and stiffness, and the emotional benefit of receiving touch from another person. But there are other aspects of the experience that you could do at home. Closing the door, turning off the phone, shutting out external distractions and being quiet for a while. Taking time away from work, family, chores etc to relax and recharge  Giving yourself permission to focus on you and your needs for a while. Creating a warm, welcoming, safe space to rest and reflect. 

But will you?

Maybe the answer is yes, in which case, good for you. If, like me, you find that real life trumps good intentions more often than not, don’t beat yourself up, you’re only human. Like buying a gift you “could make” but won’t, allow an expert to help you, and book a regular massage*. Once committed you will find the time to get to the appointments. It’s incredibly empowering to go from “I really should…” to “I make time for this”, and your body and mind will thank you for taking care of yourself.

Lucinda Cracknell Massage - flower-dressed massage couch
Relax and recharge

* and by booking four or more massage treatments up front, you get a 20% saving - see here for details

P.S. If you are inspired to “do it at home”, whether occasionally or to create a regular habit, here are my tips.

  • Choose the calmest room in your home, where you can sit or lie comfortably.
  • Close the door and ensure you won’t be disturbed by other people (or pets) for a set time. Turn the phone and other devices off.
  • Ensure you are warm – your temperature can drop when you are still for a while, so gather blankets to snuggle under.
  • Turn down the lighting – use lamps or candles, to create a soft, warm atmosphere.
  • Play soft music, something you find soothing (but not annoying or distracting). As well as adding to the atmosphere, this softens any external sounds that come in.
  • Lucinda Cracknell Massage - coconut shell candle holder and flowers
    Creating a welcoming,
    safe place to reflect
  • Introduce pleasant aromas – with candles, incense, essential oils, flowers or creams (see below).

Now you are ready for whatever practice works for you, and feels good right now. Some suggestion are:

  • Breathe. Simply that. Focus on slow, deep inhalation and exhalation, feeling your body rise and fall from your abdomen to your collar bone. One of the simplest ways to ground and calm yourself.
  • Meditate – your own practice, or try one of the many guided meditations and visualisations that are available.
  • Gently stretch your body, working through the different areas, easing through any tension and enjoying the sensation of length and movement, connecting with your body.
  • If you practice yoga, do some home practice, listening to what your body, and mind, need.
  • Write – take a pen and paper and pour your thoughts out. Don’t try to organise them too much, or to filter. Sometimes just expressing something that’s been going round and round in our heads can help to clarify what’s going on and illuminate the next step.
  • Pamper your body. Take a luxurious body cream and slowly and lovingly smooth it into your skin. This smells great, feels great, reconnects us with our bodies and sooths us through touch.
  • Daydream. Let your mind wander, explore your imagination, see where it takes you and experience your own creativity.

What do you do to nourish yourself? I’d love to hear your additions to the list in the comments below.

Be kind to yourself. Treat body and mind through compassionate, healing touch - visit Lucinda's website

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