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The Art of Making Time for Yourself

By Christina Katz

It's easy to forget to make time for yourself when you have an important meeting, three kids in three different schools, a traveling spouse and commitments in your community to juggle. So how come other moms always seem to "have it all" and still have time to workout, read the latest best sellers and spend time with their friends?

The truth is, making time for yourself is an art, and like every art, it requires practice. According to life coach Cheryl Richardson in her latest book, "Take Time for Your Life," "You deserve to live your life exactly the way you want. If you don't pilot your own plane, someone else will. Don't let others determine the quality of your life -- take charge of that process yourself."

Perhaps you struggle with the guilt you imagine comes with making time for yourself. "Isn't it selfish to focus on yourself?" you may wonder. Actually, it's selfish not to spend time with yourself. Best-selling author of "The Artist's Way," Julia Cameron says, "Every time you commit to some self-nurturing project, therešs the voice of your conditioning that raises its head and says, Oh dear, arenšt you being selfish. We lose ourselves because we are afraid of being selfish, but when we turn around and take care of ourselves, we actually become much happier and more generous."

You may be afraid that making time for yourself will affect your performance on the job, but according to Richardson, "I believe so strongly in regular down time that I often recommend it as a marketing strategy for my clients who own their own businesses. At first they think I'm a little crazy when I suggest that taking frequent breaks or vacations will actually bring business in the door." Put in plain terms: if you don't take time to rest and rejuvenate, eventually you won't have a self to worry about.

Here are twelve self-nurturing activities that won't interfere with your everyday commitments. Most can easily be squeezed in during your lunch hour, before work or after the kids are in bed.

1. Write in Your Journal
Cameron calls this practice as "Morning Pages -- three pages of longhand morning writing every day. It will help people to see lots of different routes that they can use their creativity in and will keep them from feeling trapped."

2. Dance
Do this at home in the morning after everyone else has left the house or anytime you need a quick attitude change. Shut the blinds. Take off your shoes. Put on your favorite dance music and boogie. You'll emerge ready for anything.

3. Have Lunch with a Friend and a Take Quick Walk
What could be better than catching up with a friend? And don't forget the walk. "Walking is tool that is phenomenally helpful. I think it really clarifies our thinking if we get out and walk," says Cameron.

4. Make a "Treasure Map" Collage
According to Shakti Gawain in her book, "Creative Visualization," "A treasure map is an actual, physical picture of your desired reality. It is valuable because it forms an especially clear, sharp image, which can then attract and focus energy into your goal." So if you really want that raise, advanced position or new home, get out your scissors, old magazines, and glue, and create your dream on paper first.

5. Research your next Family Vacation
Why should the travel agent have all the fun? Nothing beats browsing the bookstore or library to get ideas for future family vacations. Instead of a trip to Disney check out sailing, climbing, or spelunking.

6. Correspond with a Far-away Friend
With the introduction of e-mail, letter writing is becoming a lost art form. When you write by hand, it's special. Take your time, speak from your heart and rediscover forgotten parts of yourself that your faithful friend always remembers.

7. Attend a Weekly Support Group
Attending a support group is vital when you need extra help. Whether you are trying to quit a bad habit, grieving the loss of a loved one, or gathering with other busy moms to share strategies, the wide variety of support groups available, suit every need. Check your local phone book for a complete listing of groups in your area.

8. Take an Art, Dance, Singing or Yoga Class
While signing your children up for those enriching evening and weekend classes, don't forget to sign yourself up too. Many programs offer separate classes for children and adults at the same time.

9. Get a Massage
After you drop the kids off for school or sports, you might head to the local spa for a massage. If you have time, a ten-minute hot tub or steam bath will increase the overall relaxation effect.

10. Meditate
In the west, meditation can be walking, writing or even dancing. Check out the book, "Meditation Made Easy" by Lorin Roche. You'll discover that meditation simply means developing your capacity for rich experience.

11. Cruise an Art Gallery or Museum
Give yourself a full hour to wander, soaking in the energy and appreciation of other people's genius. Consider becoming a member and visiting weekly.

12. Workout at the Gym
This is sound advice for everyone, but especially for executives whose jobs require long periods sitting at a desk. If you need help getting motivated, enroll in a fun class like kickboxing, Tae Bo or yoga.

Most importantly, enjoy yourself. The more you do, the easier scheduling pleasure into your hectic schedule will become. You deserve it.

Also see:
The power of writing
Avoiding holiday stress
Dare to dream -- making dreams a reality

Christina Katz is a speaker, author, and writing coach from Wilsonville, Oregon. Christina offers presentations on the topics of making time for yourself and writing and publishing nonfiction articles. She coaches writers, artists, and professionals to compose authentic, compelling communications and offers manuscript and copy evaluations. To subscribe to her free newsletter "Writers on the Rise," email christinakatz@earthlink.net. Christina's next book is "The Art of Making Time for Yourself," based on her article of the same name. For more information, please visit http://www.christinakatz.com.


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