Home' Rotary Down Under : September 2013 Contents 46 Issue 554. September 2013
LIFE & LEISURE
ou know your life is good. So you want
to give back to the community, to mentor
upcoming professionals in your field, to
parent your children well, to share your
resources of time and energy with others,
even when you know they might never
be able to return the favour. Giving of
yourself is indeed worthy, but it takes energy, and if you
don’t take care to nurture yourself as well as others you
can begin to feel drained.
Women are particularly susceptible to burnout, because
they’re assumed to be natural care givers. Workers in
professions that care for others such as health, teaching
and emergency services are also vulnerable to depletion.
Parents especially are susceptible, because their job
continues all day every day with little respite.
When you just give constantly and don’t give back to
yourself to renew your energy, you can easily burn out.
• ‘compassion fatigue’ – you just can’t care anymore
• feeling irritated by yet another request for your time
• reluctance to socialise
• your sense of humour has evaporated
When you experience feelings like this, it could mean
you need to refill your well of giving energy. There are
many different ways to do this.
Choose your method: let’s get practical
Many people equate self-nurturing with ‘alternative’
practices like meditating while clad in a caftan on a
mountain top; legs crossed and oblivious to the world.
Retreats can be helpful, but actually, anything that doesn’t
require you to attend to anyone else’s needs fits into the
category of a self-nurturing activity. There’s a buffet of
choices just waiting for you.
Immersing yourself in your favourite hobby is actually
a form of self-nurturing, because with an engrossing
hobby all you are focused on is the activity itself and
the pleasure it’s giving you. There is an endless variety
of interests that fit into this category, like golf or long
motorbike rides. Some people find working with fibres
or patchworking quite relaxing. Even scraping the algae
off your fish tank glass, polishing your prized vintage car,
attending to the plants in your garden and arranging the
flowers you’ve collected meet the criteria. And that’s just
a brief selection.
Feeding yourself with care is a very practical form of
self-nurturing that brings tangible rewards in improved
physical health. You might grow your own vegetables,
or keep chooks. Or perhaps make careful selections at
the local farmers’ market, take time to create a healthy
meal plan for the week, and then enjoy trying out some
creative cooking techniques. Then, when the food you’ve
lovingly gathered and prepared is on the plate in front of
you, it can be enjoyed mindfully.
The antidote for stress
One practical activity that gives back to you has actually
been scientifically proven to be beneficial: meditation.
The regular practice of meditation used to be associated
with dubious images of religious cults and vague,
disconnected hippies wearing flowing robes, but actually,
meditation has been shown to help improve your mental
health, your mood and boost your resilience.
Mindfulness meditation in particular has received the
thumbs up from psychological science. It works when you
choose to quiet the endless chatter in your mind; you
know... thoughts like, “It’s time to renew the car insurance”
... “I really must start looking for a gift for so-and-so” ...
”What on earth can I make for dinner tonight” ... and so on.
Meditation antidotes the endless busyness of life in the
Western world where we can be constantly distracted by
phones, email and advertising. Perpetual activity makes it
easy to become disconnected from your soul, your values
and your purpose in life. Meditation reconnects you with
your purpose and refills your inner well of giving.
Make it happen and reap the benefits.
Interesting things can happen when you deliberately
make time for self-nurturing. Your sense of humour
improves, you have renewed interest in relationships,
more to give of yourself, and life seems more fun. The
Doing Good for Yourself
(as well as everyone else)
As Rotarians, we spend a significant amount of our
time giving to others, but what happens when we
don’t give back to ourselves?
Words: Olwen Anderson
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