By Nancy Colier, author of The Emotionally Exhausted Woman
Women are chronic multitaskers, for good reason. Most of us are responsible for taking care of what often feels like too much. We’re forever thinking about who else needs our attention, and what else needs to get done, where else we need to be. We operate on the assumption that we can’t possibly be just where we are, in just this present moment, with our attention just here. Not, that is, if we’re going to successfully take care of everything else that needs taking care of. And yet this belief is not only false, but precisely the idea that renders us in a constant state of exhaustion. Always tending to other responsibilities (even if it’s just in your head), unable to let yourself be where you are, you remain chronically depleted.
If you want to heal your exhaustion at a deep level, you must give yourself permission to land in one place: here, now. Managing, caretaking, providing, and what is essentially working all the time. You are rejuvenated when you let yourself be where you are—just where you are. And furthermore, when you trust that, contrary to everything you’ve ever been taught, the best way to take care of everything else is to take care of this moment right now, and maybe most importantly, to take care of the you who’s living it.
Once you get the hang of paying attention to your own attention and redirecting it back to yourself and your own experience—what I call bringing it home—you are then in possession of a new superpower. At any moment, you can take a break from the internal chatter and busyness of your mind and unhook your attention from the mental work of keeping everyone else okay. In so doing, you can nourish yourself with your own attention and presence. Whenever you want or need, you can choose to stop and drop, to make the shift from a human doing to a human being. Self-care from the inside out demands that you start consciously pausing—not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. And, that you take respites from attending to all that you attend to. It means learning how to let your mind be off-duty. Just by dropping out of your head and into your body, taking one conscious breath, feeling your physical presence, you’re heading in the right direction: away from your head. This simple choice, to shift from an external, doing focus to an internal, being one—to intentionally get still, go inside, experience yourself here in the present moment—is a profound act of restoring and recharging yourself. Just this is self-care.
Nancy Colier, is a psychotherapist, interfaith minister, and author of Can’t Stop Thinking, The Power of Off, Inviting a Monkey to Tea, and Getting Out of Your Own Way.