The back of my mind is a busy place. I bet yours is, too. No matter what I am doing, there is a list of things running around back there, jumping up and down, begging for my attention. Those little things jump higher and yell louder if I am doing something for me. Like an angry mob, they join forces and chant one word that causes me to question the validity of my choice for self-care: productivity.
The minute I sit to read, I hear it. Productivity. When I sit to write they start in again. Productivity. At the gym, I can hear it over the music in my earbuds. It is in the background noise when I have coffee with a friend. That word even surfaces while I sit on the floor to play with my kids. Productivity.
My chanting to-do list invites a friend along. Her name is guilt. She jumps around in the back of my mind, too. When I make the choice to feed my soul through self-care, guilt dances with my list of things to do, causing the back of my mind to hold out, unable to fully enjoy the down time.
That idea of “productivity” haunts us women. Raise your hand if you feel like you have to do something productive during your downtime. Confession: I save up enough loads of clean laundry to get through an episode of Downton. I do paperwork while eating lunch. Outside, I pull weeds while my children imagine without me.
It is because of guilt. I don’t feel good about doing something simply for the sake of enjoyment.
How Do You Choose Self-care Without Guilt?
Consider the definition of productivity: the state or quality of producing something. When you take time for yourself, you ARE, in fact, producing something. You are producing peace, calm, spiritual well-being, a well-rounded woman. There is a difference between mindless entertainment as a form of avoiding reality and purposeful rest or recreation.
Productivity is also used to measure the efficiency of a worker. I am MORE productive when I take the time to feed my soul. I am more patient with my children when I take 20 minutes to read before they get home from school. I am more loving toward my husband when I have taken the time to write or exercise during the day. It allows me to untangle all of the knots in my soul and, in turn, become more productive.
Don’t sacrifice self-care in the name of productivity. Self-care is productive! We just have to change our definition of “productive.”
Choosing yourself is not wrong. The longer you go without taking time for yourself, the more resentment will fester, exhaustion will set in. and you will have nothing left to give–to anyone. Guilt has no place in the decision to care for yourself. (Jessica Turner, The Fringe Hours)
Once I redefine “productivity” and validate my need for self-care, how do I quiet the noise in the back of my mind? It starts with my self-talk.
If I go into my Fringe Hour telling myself “I should do ____ (laundry, dishes, tubs and toilets),” guilt is inevitable. Instead, I try to say, “Kelly, you need this down time. It will help you feel ____ (rested, fulfilled, content, etc). After, you will be more _____(patient, loving, gentle…).” The dance party in the back of my mind stops and I am able to truly enjoy my downtime.
Once we redefine productivity and shift our self-talk to reflect our change in thinking, the noise in the back of our minds will begin to quiet. Peace is there, waiting to minister to us so that we can, in turn, minister to others.
Do you consider self-care productive? How can you change your self-talk to quiet the noise in the back of your mind?
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