Last month, I decided to try something as somewhat of a self-care experiment – you know…in the name of research.
I decided to look at my calendar for the next month and select 3 days on which I would make absolutely no plans. None. Zilch. Nada. You get the idea.
And just in case you don’t, the idea is this: I decided to take 3 days each month where if I wanted to, I could stay in my pajamas all day because I definitely wouldn’t be leaving the house.
This idea didn’t occur to me randomly; it actually came to me out of necessity. After a few weeks of saying yes, yes, yes to everything from coffee dates (which I LOVE, by the way!) to helping people (which I also LOVE! Hi, I’m Cathleen, and I’m an enneagram 2!), to shuttling my kids to parties, activities, and foster care visits. At one point, I looked at my planner and saw that there was at least one place other than home I needed to be every day for a few weeks straight.
Then, I saw it…the sky cleared and angels may or may not have begun to sing. Thursday…a random Thursday, which, as of yet, had nothing written on it.
Impulsively, I grabbed a purple Sharpie and wrote in all capital letters: “DON’T MAKE PLANS!”
Satisfied, and yet wanting to keep myself accountable in some way to this holiday from my busyness, I quickly shared the photo of my planner on my Instagram stories.
A few people responded with the laughing emoji, and a few were like “I hear ya!” One of my dear friends even joked that she wouldn’t be asking me to hang out that day. I had to admit, my initial instinct was to be like, “Oh, hanging out with YOU doesn’t count…I’ll always make time to hang out with YOU!”
But I caught myself because a) I knew she was joking and b) she totally GETS it that I needed a day with literally nothing going on. Because I think, deep down, most of us ladies can relate to the feeling of overwhelm that comes when we say yes to all the things and feel like we’re going, going, going all. the. time.
I’ll be the first to admit that one of the last of my people-pleaser tendencies to bite the dust has been my quickness to say yes to hanging out with people, even if it means I won’t have any time to blog, record a podcast, or just take a nap. Or just do whatever it is I want to do.
Does that sound selfish? Eh. I’m ok with it if it does. Because the truth is, protecting the white space on your calendar IS self-care. I would argue that it’s at the very core of what it means to practice self-care.
To be honest, I don’t even remember what I did on that Thursday I took “off.” I’m sure I played with my baby boy, maybe did some work (which I love and I consider self-care on most days), and probably a nap. But just waking up KNOWING that I didn’t have anything planned that day was such a great feeling. I felt calm and at ease, knowing that nothing extra was required of me. Praise.
Once I saw how amazing it was to have a me day (or, let’s be honest, a mental health day), I quickly decided that one day a month is not enough. One per week would probably be pushing it given my current busy stage of life, but 3 days per month felt doable. And also necessary.
So here we are at the end of April and I’ve already selected my 3 days for May. Seeing “DON’T MAKE PLANS!” 3 times next month is giving me the same peaceful, easy feeling (any Eagles fans in the house?) I got when I decided to take that first random Thursday off.
Friends, each of us is solely responsible for making time for our self-care. It’s not always easy, and yes, there will be times when life will certainly get in the way. I fully anticipate that even our well-laid plans for “me days” might have to get moved around in a given month or we may only get 2 instead of 3 (or whatever number works for you). The point is that you (and I) do what it takes to protect our calendars, to protect our time for what matters and what fills us up every so often.
Here’s wishing you the very same peaceful, easy feeling in the days, weeks, and months ahead.