Plate spinning is a circus manipulation art where a person spins plates, bowls and other flat objects on poles, without them falling off. Plate spinning relies on the gyroscopic effect, in the same way a top stays upright while spinning. The actual art of plate spinning is not too dissimilar to what many of us try to do in everyday life. Stay upright while running to and from meetings; focusing on multiple goals; KPI’s; more meetings; remembering to have lunch; looking after staff; remembering to respond to that email from 3 weeks ago; booking the insurance for that holiday in 2 months time… And the list goes on! In the beginning, spinning plates can be fun, give us variety in our day, and can be quite rewarding as we manage to pull off achieving multiple goals in a day or a week. But after a while some things are forgotten, unfinished and become stressors in our already busy lives. To add to this forever growing to-do list, we have our smartphone constantly in our pocket, vibrating, ringing and reminding us of how many plates we actually have up in the air at one time. We have got into the habit of constantly checking our phones for new emails, Facebook status updates, Twitter feed, missed message and calls. Once upon a time we would leave work and begin to switch off. That phone from back in late 90’s and early 2000’s didn’t have data or a screen that could read more than 1-2 lines of text for that matter. By the time we reached home we would be ready to change down another gear, chat with family, sit down and watch a favourite TV programme, read a book. Ultimately, we would log out, switch off and unwind from the day we had just finished. What if we could use this technology we have now, to take time out of our day to switch off for very small periods of time and reset our minds? All of a sudden some of the plates we thought were important would vanish. Our minds would become more focused. Stress levels would decrease. Things would become clear and simple. Real focus and clarity would begin to creep in and we would all look much less like a circus act trying to spin a whole lot of unbalanced plates in mid-air while running down the road! I have been doing yoga for about 18 months now. It gives me both physical benefit from the stretching and strengthening of muscles, and the mental benefit of clearing my mind from the day-to-day clutter it accumulates. But I wouldn’t have time most days to do a class in the middle of the day, even though this is when I would benefit most. So recently, my very mindful, present and yogic partner put me onto the idea of downloading a meditation app for my smartphone. So I did! Since then I have been endeavoring to use the app at least once a day for 10 mins. I find it’s great for removing all those redundant thoughts and stressors which simply get in the way of me achieving what is important to me in my day. The app I am using at the moment is Headspace which has various guided meditations to suit you. So, my advice to you: click on the app store, search for ‘Headspace’, download, put your earphones in and press play! It’s only 5-10 mins out of your day, and the change that it can bring is absolutely incredible. Just do it!
I recently returned from Bali. It was so luxurious. So indulgent. I got massages. I didn’t have to make my bed. All my food was cooked for me. I didn’t have to do dishes. I woke early every morning to meditate and do a two-hour yoga practice. I withdrew into silence for 24 hours. I was driven around in golf carts. I stared deep into the jungle. I climbed a volcano. I swam. I surrounded myself with lush greenness.
By the time I got back to New Zealand, aside from feeling a little jet lagged, I felt amazing. All that talk about making sure your cup is full? Well, mine was positively overflowing.
However, timing meant that my dad went in for his knee reconstruction while I was away. I badly wanted to be here for it, but it wasn’t to be. My brother came out from Australia with his four-year-old to help Mum out. When I arrived back, Dad was still in the hospital. His knee was healing well and he came home the following day. My partner, Stu came north to join us.
I stayed at my parents’ house for four days. I helped Dad up and down from his bed and chair. I helped mum cook meals. I helped Dad do the exercises from the physio. I helped my nephew build Lego. I reminded Dad to take his medication. I helped my brother with chores around the house. I did my best to make sure Dad didn’t feel like a burden. I made sure that Stu was okay, as he had his own life stress going on. By the end of the four days, I was a wreck. I was exhausted. Said cup was now back to empty. And it was time to return to work.
By Friday I was starting to return to normal. On Saturday I headed back to my parent’s house and this visit included six hours in ED one night.
By now I was starting to get a really good picture of what self-care meant to me. And also what it meant, and how I felt, without it.
So I went to a heated yin class. I took a bath. I went for a walk with a good friend. I sat on the couch and did not much. I surrounded myself with lush, green nature. I turned up the music and sang while I drove. I went for brunch with a good friend. I read. I listened to podcasts.
And after all of this, my cup started to feel full again. I felt like I could show up and be my best self for my partner, for my Dad, for work. I sometimes find the language of self-care doesn’t sit quite right with me. But the last few weeks have shown me that regardless of what I call it, I need to make sure I prioritise time for things that make me feel whole.
So what do you do for self-care? How do you make sure that your cup is full? Or, if you’ve never thought about it, maybe today’s the day to take five deep breaths, just for you.