Everyone has a different idea of what leisure looks like. For some people it looks like an afternoon on the couch with Netflix and a bowl of popcorn. For other people it looks like a forty-minute jog around the local area and a fruit smoothie afterward. The unifying factor is that you are taking time for yourself to do something that you enjoy.
As I mentioned in my last post, this can seem very selfish, especially if you are like me and have a tendency to put everyone else and their needs ahead of your own. Think of the lecture they give on an airplane about putting your own air mask on first, before helping anyone else with theirs. In order to be able to save another, you have to save yourself first. I think of self care as first aid for the soul. Taking time out to indulge in activities that nourish your soul and renew your spirit is life giving. It allows you to continue to do the hard work of caring for your family, being a good student, or excelling at your job.
Start with activities you know you enjoy. Do you like to read? Go to the bookstore and choose a new book, or download one for your e-reader. There is no shame in not having the time to read a book in one sitting like when you were a kid. Ten minutes here and there adds up, and eventually that book will be finished. Do you enjoy physical activities? Call a friend and make a plan to go for a walk, or take a hike. Are you a movie buff? Block out enough time during the weekend as a reward for all the hard work you’ve done all week and watch your favorite movie. Or, acquire a movie you’ve been dying to see, and make some popcorn. Decide if you want to watch it alone, or with others.
From there, branch out into activities that are similar to the ones you enjoy. I have a passion for photography. I also have a passion for drawing, painting, and other artistic endeavors. I also love to write. When my children were very small, I got hooked on scrapbooking. It allowed me to combine these three passions into one activity that I could do in the fringe hours of my day. Sixteen years later I still enjoy it, and because of it, I also do rubber stamping, card making, and other paper crafts.
Don’t be afraid to try new activities. In 2001 I quit smoking and to keep my hands distracted I learned how to crochet. A few years later I decided I wanted to make a cute baby sweater I saw in a yarn store for a coworker who was pregnant, and so I taught myself how to knit. A few years ago I bought an antique spinning wheel and as soon as I get one part fixed and have a little more time, I am going to teach myself to spin. If you don’t have the patience to teach yourself a new hobby, there are plenty of online tutorials on YouTube or you could sign up for classes in your local area.
Every once in a while, do something that scares you. I want to learn how to quilt. I can see some of you rolling your eyes and thinking, “What is scary about making a quilt?” There is nothing inherently scary about quilting. You measure fabric, cut fabric, sew it together, insert batting, stitch it together, and then you have a quilt (in a very loose nutshell). You see, I’m a recovering perfectionist, and there is a lot of room for imperfection in quilting. I already know I’m going to want all my squares the exact same size and my seams perfectly straight, and those ridiculous expectations are paralyzing me from even starting. I’m going to do it anyhow. It’s one of my goals for this year. A very simple baby quilt to save and give as a gift. It may be stressful, but it’s going to lead to an activity that will be very rewarding, and that is what makes it worth it.
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