Self-care is a big buzzword right now. To go beyond the hype and understand what it is and how it can help interior designers, Window Fashion VISION talked to Dr. Robyn Gobin, author of the book “The Self-Care Prescription.”
Window Fashion VISION: What is self-care exactly?
Dr. Robyn Gobin: My definition of self-care is this idea of doing things that feed you and help you operate at your best physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s doing things that help you to be healthy, happy and effective in your life—to do what’s going to help you function at the top of your game. A big piece of self-care is not always doing what you want to do, but what you need. That’s really a huge piece of incorporating self-care into your life, is pausing to ask, “What do I need in this moment and how can I give that to myself?”
We’re hearing a lot about self-care right now. Why do you think that is, and why does it seem so important to people?
I think it’s really important in our society now because we have this cultural phenomenon going on where everyone is just constantly on the go. We’re constantly reinforced for performing at a high level, being extraordinarily productive and overachieving. While it’s great to be productive, and it makes us feel good about ourselves when others recognize our accomplishments, one of the downsides is we’re often exhausted. To some extent, we’re getting high off the external validation and that can leave us feeling empty inside if we become too dependent on it. If we are not careful, we can start to equate our worth and value as a person with how much we are able to achieve or produce on the job.
I think we are hearing a lot about self-care right now because the “constantly on the go” way of living is having an impact on our quality of life and we’re thinking, “There has to be a better way.” We’re looking to self-care to help us find a bit more balance in our lives.
When you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of achieving greatness (and living out other people’s definitions of success), you can become disconnected from what really matters to you. We spend our time and money doing things that don’t have that deep sense of meaning to us in the name of being viewed as successful. That’s why I think self-care is important, because it places you back in touch with what is important to you and what you need. It allows you to use that inner wisdom to guide how you spend your money and time.
Window covering professionals place a lot of strain on their bodies, whether they’re hauling sample books between appointments, hunching over a sewing machine or doing another activity. What are some things people can do to take better care of themselves physically?
Something that I talk a lot about in the book is sleep. Just like our cell phones, our bodies work better when they’ve had time to recharge. If people don’t have a bedtime routine, they should start one. A bedtime routine includes simple actions you take that alert your body that you’re winding down for the day and getting ready to go to sleep. That can mean turning off the TV at a reasonable hour, brushing your teeth and having a warm cup of tea—anything you need to do to wind down.
Also, make a concerted effort to get eight hours of sleep. As adults, we can survive on less, but that’s the recommendation for us. It will help you come back to work feeling refreshed, more creative and excited.
Many of our readers are small business owners who face a tremendous amount of stress. What are some easy ways to incorporate self-care for the mind?
One thing that I would say about managing stress is prioritizing. I think particularly among women, we try to be all things to all people, and we want to do all the things because they excite us, and we underestimate the amount of time we have. One of the things to do to reduce stress is to recognize your human limitations and prioritize what is going to get your time in a given day. Sometimes things seem urgent to us but they aren’t really. Like, having a full email box may seem urgent in the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t as urgent as finishing this project you’re getting paid for.
Overall, in your larger life, it’s deciding, what are my priorities right now? Not everything can get your attention at every stage in your life, so what are you wisely choosing to focus on in your life right now? What is my top priority and how am I going to take things off my plate and fully invest in the things that are most important to me and my business at this point in my life?
More of a practical skill is meditation. Meditation involves taking time to get still, focus on one thing at a time, be in the present moment (as opposed to worrying about the future or ruminating on the past), and just breathe. That is something I’ve found to be tremendously important in my life, to tap into the breath as a system that alerts our brain and our body to calm down. If you’re feeling stressed during the day, even pausing to take some deep breaths may help you calm down and find some clarity.
Gobin recommends the following meditation apps:
How can people with busy lives find time for self-care?
It goes back to asking yourself, “What is it that I really need? What is the most loving thing I can give myself in this moment?” If you choose wisely it can have a payoff for you, even if it’s just five minutes.
One of the things with self-care is you have to have realistic expectations. Let’s say you want to try meditation as a self-care activity. If you meditate for five minutes a day, you might not see the payoff immediately. It’s like when you go to the gym and lift weights, you’re not going to see muscles after the first day. You need consistency, but it doesn’t have to be large chunks of time. It can be five minutes here and 10 minutes here, where you’re teaching your mind to be in the moment and not thinking about a mistake in the past or stress in the future.
Being in the moment can create a lot of freedom in your mind—not to mention you can enjoy the pleasant things that are happening right now, like a bird chirping outside your window or a child’s laugher. There are a lot of things we miss throughout the day because we’re on autopilot—like a walking zombie just going through the motions. If we can slow down, we can get a lot more fulfillment and not feel like we need a vacation to find joy and happiness in our lives.
Note: This interview was edited for clarity and length.