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Image / Self / Health & Wellness

Sometimes the self-care to-do list can be exhausting


By Niamh Ennis
11th Dec 2021
Sometimes the self-care to-do list can be exhausting

The clock goes off at 5.30am but I’m already awake, waiting for it. I’m part of the 5am club and it’s what we do. Up and at ‘em! Go, go, go. I make a strong bulletproof coffee to oil the brain cells and sit down to my favourite task of the day – journaling. It’s when I organise and file those thoughts that inspire, block, upset, frustrate, challenge and excite me each and every day. “What do I need today?” “Who do I want to become?” – all the important questions, address them early and avoid any surprises later. 

Journaling done, I grab the dog and off to the woods we go. I’m ticking boxes as I go, pushing up my daily Fitbit tally, using this time to ground, doing a walking meditation as I move through the trees, repeating my mantra – “I call all parts of me home.” I stop to touch the stones, to embrace the trees, not caring about the strange looks I know I’m getting. This is when I’m receiving the creative inspiration that’ll fuel me for the rest of the day. Before leaving the woods, I grab my little bag of bird feed and distribute it generously where I know they’ll find their breakfast. Yet another box ticked. 

Once home, it’s a thirty-minute online spinning class, which results in a sweat, solved by a shower and finally dressing for the day ahead which means business on top and leggings and slippers below. I boil an egg for the protein, make this coffee a decaf and sit at my desk before the clock strikes nine and my working day has officially begun.

I can only write at this time of the day. My weekly magazine articles get done in the mornings, my Instagram and Facebook content, my offers all get created in this period. If I miss this window, they have to wait until the next day, due to my very limited creative capacity beyond the first part of the day. 

Diving further into my business: answering emails, prepping for client sessions, before jumping into my daily coaching calls with my 1-1 clients, stopping only for a bowl of soup or a sausage roll. It’s all about balance! All that done, I grab time to put some distance between me and all I’ve heard that day, to avoid integrating other people’s worries as my own. I have a tendency to do this and it can be very draining. To help with this the dog gets another run around the trees where I’ll partake in a large amount of deep breathing, releasing and letting go of what is not mine. I do a lot of thinking, often too much, but it somehow feels a little more manageable outdoors with no restrictions and no constraints. Often I will listen to a podcast that might inspire me, usually rehearsing conversations with people that are annoying me, most of them never come to pass, but preparing for them lifts the lid off my internal pressure cooker. 

Afternoons are for learning, I must keep myself informed and books, websites, webinars and teaching videos help. I’m hungry for them all. I need to know what’s happening and who is saying what. This can also be a tricky time, as I read what others have written and inevitably think “why didn’t I write that?” Comparison is never far but I remain vigilant., there’s no room at this inn for that nonsense.

The cooking of dinner is speedy and often involves defrosting or pasta before winding down in front of some mind-numbing reality tv. More balance! I am quite tired by now and my brain switches off around this time and little will reactivate it. I’m fit for nothing. 

I can be grumpy in the evenings especially if I haven’t prepared fully for the next day, I’ll feel anxious and prone to a lot more overthinking. The internal dialogue starts in earnest and words like ‘lazy’, ‘unproductive’ will be thrown around. Why didn’t you do this earlier? What were you doing with your time today? These judgemental questions come from an all too familiar voice. Mine. 

No matter how early I get up, regardless of all the boxes I get ticked, it’s rare I go to bed feeling satisfied or feeling that I am in control of my workload. The perfectionist haunts me at this time of the night. There is always something more I feel I should be doing, another way I could be improving, extra ideas as to how I could be being of better service. This work feels endless. 

And yet it is what I do with enormous success for my clients. I teach them self-compassion, the importance of boundaries, the benefits of taking care of themselves first. I highlight the advantage of balance in their life, of finding their voice and using it, of connecting with that inner part of themselves that will help them stay focused on where they are going. I guide them through clarity and purpose towards fulfilment and achievement. Everything I share and teach I have lived. It’s why I push myself to keep learning, observing, feeling and experiencing.

It’s why it feels limitless, because it is. I know there is no final destination, no end point. Improving ourselves, growth and expansion are all living processes, we are evolving as we go and changing as we choose. The importance of caring for ourselves so that we can live the life in front of us, the one we are inside of right now, this one that hurts, excites, terrifies and changes us. 

And then I remember how far I’ve come, what I’ve survived, how much I learned and how much I have changed and I feel a wave of deep gratitude. I am not who I was. I get a glimpse into feeling this again, in the future, when I’ve evolved even more. And I breathe a little easier, I feel a little lighter and sleep a little heavier. I finish the day taking care of myself asleep. Until the clock goes off which of course I was already awake waiting and expecting.  And we go again.

Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change and Transformation Coach, Founder of The RESET for Change 3 Month 1:1 Private Coaching Programme. If you’re ready for change join Niamh for her online workshop ‘RELEASE & Receive on Tuesday, December 14 at 7pm. Replay available if you can’t make it. Secure your space now www.niamhennis.com/release-and-receive.