Prioritising Me Time

In the Thrive Guide for farming women, Sandra Matthews shares her tips for nurturing and caring for yourself.

What is the one thrive tip/practice that you have built into your life? 

I often put myself last, seems everything else is a priority to me except me! So I sat down and made a list of things I do, things I must do, things I should do, things others think I should do…then things I want to do. The first part of the list was very long at the start and the last list was short. So I walked away, took some time over a few days and reflected on whose life I was living and why.

Then, I went back, turned off my phone and closed my laptop, then got stuck into that list. I ranked each line in a priority order, scrubbed off a few and focused on what made ME happy. Yes, there are the must dos but this was about me and I needed to own that. I’m getting older and I don’t want to say I missed out on being me and doing the things I wanted to do just because I was pleasing other people.

I realised that I need time off farm (not working!) to have some fun, do some gentle fun exercise like walking down the beach boardwalk, sit at the beach with a coffee or even take my thermos with me with my own hot drink. I like simple things to take time out, they don’t have to cost a lot – for me it’s ‘time with me’ or time with the people I care about like my close friends.

I talked over the process with my hubby, and he realised he needed to get off-farm too. A real positive for us both. I was away working recently and Ian sent me a photo of him eating an ice cream at the beach on the boardwalk – made my day!

What has changed in your life since you began this thrive practice?

The feeling of being constantly on the back foot in everything, feeling pressure of meeting deadlines, juggling working on farm, keeping the house clean, having gardens weeded and clean vehicle —the list goes on.

Changing my mindset about what really is important to ME has reduced what I stress about and for how long. I admit I still stress about deadlines and am working on that but I prioritise my time and incorporate ‘ME’ time into my list and work through that.

My mind is clearer, I am more organised (as my list is achievable), and I feel less tired. When I go to town I throw walking shoes into the car and leave them there. I make sure I take ½ hour to
enjoy a quiet solo walk to clear my head with the sound of the sea in my ears – water has always calmed me and I realise this is one of my happy places. I am fortunate to be near Gisborne for its beach.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to start thriving?

Don’t feel guilty that you need time for you and to look after yourself. Guilt is something that we have a bloody big pile of. Guilt if you don’t get stuff done, guilt if you are not there to help, guilt if something goes wrong, guilty of an untidy house.

Life is short, life is hard sometimes but life is also for us to grasp and make our own — after all it’s our life so let’s make the most of it. Adjust things one step at a time. In the past I have been like a bull crashing through a gate but that doesn’t last long, takes too much energy and I run out of it. So, I adjusted my thinking and did one thing different each month.

My general advice – this is your life, think of one positive thing you can do for YOU  each day. It is amazing just doing this one thing differently, even if it’s to drink a hot cuppa not a ‘gone cold’ cuppa once a day while sitting still, changes your life.

You can access the full Thrive guide for rural women here.

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