When there are so many demands on your time, it’s easy to let things slip. And I’ve noticed a pattern among my friends and clients. They tend to let go of the activities that nourish them. They will continue to meet work deadlines (even if they’re unreasonable). They will always take their children to after school clubs (whatever the weather). But they don’t have time for themselves and their own needs.
There is no magic spell to solve this conundrum. But research suggests there are ways to make sure you don’t lose time for yourself completely. In this blog I share some learning from psychologists on what helps.
Why do we do things for other people and not for ourselves?
There are so many answers to this question. Lots are probably rooted in patriarchal ideas of women being in service to others. And stereotypes of the ideal mother being a selfless being who serves her children at her own expense. All of which need changing!
Setting that aside, one thing that I found interesting is the difference accountability makes. Apparently, if you have told a person you will do something, that increases your chances of actually doing that thing by 65%, compared with you having a vague idea to do it.
So it makes a lot of sense that we manage to facilitate other people’s commitments – like my sons’ football matches – above our own. If your children expect to be at swimming, or dance, or whatever it is, you are more likely to meet that commitment. If your boss or your client expects you to meet a deadline, you will do everything you can to ensure it is met. Whereas if you’ve thought you might drop into a yoga class if you can fit it in, it’s easy to let it slip.
The importance of making a plan
Health psychologists did a study on how much ‘motivation’ had to do with whether or not someone followed through on their exercise plans. They split participants into three groups. The control group were simply asked to track their exercise.
The other two groups both watched a motivational video explaining the benefits of exercise. Additionally, people in the third group were asked to make a specific plan by completing this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] in [PLACE].”
In the first two groups (the control group and the motivated group), between 35% and 38% of people exercised at least once in the week. Motivation alone didn’t make much of a difference. But in the third group – the ones who had made a specific plan – that percentage leapt to 95%.
So having a specific time and place scheduled for your goal has a huge impact on whether you’re likely to do it.
What’s this got to do with massage or reflexology?!
I think we all know that life will just keep coming at us and it’s easy to let our own self-care slip. Even when we know it’s important. Even when we know we can’t care for others as well if we’re exhausted. Even when we know we don’t need to justify doing things for ourselves in any case.
But you are far less likely to skip your massage if it’s already booked in. Because all of a sudden, someone else is involved (me!) and you have a specific time and place set.
I know the difference regular massage and reflexology has made to me over the years. Life has felt particularly stressful recently and I honestly feel as though my regular treatments have been essential to my ability to cope as life just keeps on coming. There is something about the space it creates in my head as well as the impact it has on my body.
So, this is my invitation and my plea! Book yourself in for a massage! Get it into your diary now. And you are far less likely to let it slip.
My calendar is open to you whether you come once a month, once every few months or once a year. What better way to start this new month of February, a month often linked to love, than with a commitment to yourself? Let 2022 be the year you prioritise your own needs as well as everyone else’s.
If you are a new client please get in touch here https://debbiethurlow.com/contact to receive the booking link.