Since the coronavirus pandemic hit last spring, I’ve been leading a group of students virtually once a week through an Alexander Technique based self-care practice called Constructive Rest. Until recently I’d forgotten to start with something very important. Last week I remembered and started our practice by simply congratulating them for showing up. For taking the time to take care of themselves.
One of my colleagues, Mary Derbyshire, who works in Rhode Island likes to say that “self-care is health care”. I couldn’t agree more. Another one of my colleagues, Imogen Ragone, who runs a support group for caregivers, likes to remind everyone in the group that “self-care is not selfish”. I also wholeheartedly agree. But even if you agree with both the above statements you may still find it hard to find time for self-care.
Self-care practices come in all shapes and sizes. Some can take a few seconds. Others an hour or two. It could be as simple as noticing your breathing for the next three breaths. Taking a break from hours at the computer to go outside and go for a walk. Going for a swim at the local Y. Or cooking yourself a delicious and nutritious dinner.
What they all have in common is that you have to convince yourself you have the time to do them—and then you have to take the time.
The Alexander Technique is ultimately a self-care practice. One of the simplest things students can do—and you for that matter—is to start lying down in a semi-supine position on the floor every day for 15-20 minutes. This is the position we use for what we call the Constructive Rest practice. For years I used to tell my students to try to find time to get down on the floor every day. I don’t tell them that anymore.
Today I tell them to take the time to get down on the floor every day. If you try to find time to do something you’re not making it a priority. By taking the time you’re making a strong statement to yourself that this is important to you and you’re making a commitment to do it.
You’ve heard the famous quote attributed to Woody Allen: “80% of success is just showing up”. I’d add to that, “and that 80% is the hardest part.”
Whatever you do for self-care, remember the hardest part is often simply taking the time to do it.
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