Last week I (Clarke) told you of a day when I was feeling sub-optimal
I also told you how I managed myself in this state, consciously sat with my feelings and emotions, discussed them with Carrie and proceeded to make constructive choices about my actions that day
This wasn't the end of the story
After some reflection in the evening (like I always do, with Smooth Classics @ 10 on Classic FM, Margarita Taylor providing the soundtrack to my quiet time) I realised that I had been working relentlessly over the past month or so
Working on the websites, reading dozens of books for William Hill Sports Book of the Year (I'm one of the judges), studying for my Psychology degree and maintaining my husband and fatherly duties around the home with two kids under 3, it should have come as no surprise
This being said, it was only when Carrie said "I want you to take a day off tomorrow" that I actually considered having a break from this routine.
My initial reaction was,
"But we have to produce content for the website and I've got 2 assignments due and..."
"Let me stop you there" said my beautiful, sage wife, "We both agree that you are sub-optimal, we both know that you are working incredibly hard and we both know that there is still more work to do. We both also know that you will only continue to descend if you white knuckle through this period."
"No buts, take a day off, have some Clarkie-time and then go again, refreshed"
I have no response
I know that my wife is right, yet it is still difficult to make myself take a break, make myself switch off and allow myself to do something for fun, something that isn't for everyone or everything else, it's just for me
I know our collective wisdom and insight is always far greater than when we do things on our own
So I listen.
I have an early night (9pm)
I have a leisurely breakfast outside, on my own, reading my bible and then the paper
I go and play 18 holes of golf, a wonderful three and a half hour walk in the fresh air. Taking in the beautiful vistas that the elevated tees afford across the Tyne Valley, spending (a little too much) time amongst nature while I hunt for my ball in the trees. No phone, no interruptions, just me, the course and the outdoors.
By the time I return home it's mid afternoon
Instead of charging in the door with an agenda of tasks to do and swirling thoughts, I go and take a long shower and then join my family in the front room
It's amazing what this self-care reset does for you
It's almost as though I haven't truly "seen" them for weeks, even though we've been locked down together, 24/7, for months.
I spend some quality time with our two youngest children before bathing them and going through an extended bedtime routine.
Then I return to eat dinner with my wife, together, at the same time and in the same room!
We watch some TV together as I drift into sleep, feeling contented, rested, rejuvenated and relaxed.
The following morning I awoke with the feeling that I had things to do and, more importantly, that I had the capacity to do them
I reflected over my morning brew about the outcomes of my day off
The websites were still here, nothing had crashed and burned without me for a day
My assignments were still waiting for me, and I had a clear mind that was able to broach them in a structured way. The schedule had come to me whilst I was on the golf course and I noted it down on my study planner. Sticking to this plan I should be able to get ahead of schedule, never mind just meeting the deadlines.
My family was still here, they still loved me and, actually, they appreciated me a little more for the quality time we had spent together.
On top of all of this, I felt better. All of these tasks are manageable, and I believe that I will execute them with all of the quality that I know I possess.
That's what a day of self-care looked like for me.
It only came about after Carrie's insistence AND my commitment to allowing myself to do it
Taking a day off has actually put me ahead of schedule, now who would have thought that?