In this episode, I am sharing reasons why you should stop feeling guilty for taking time for yourself and your hobbies and how you can make this happen.
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Stop feeling guilty for taking time for yourself
One of the biggest questions I get is how to find more time to cross stitch. I have shared a lot of advice and tips on this over the years but I still believe that the top reason you don’t take time for yourself is the feeling of guilt.
The history of guilt
From what I have witnessed around me, it seems to be something that women struggle with more than men. I think this is deeply ingrained in us from past generations where the man went to work and the woman kept the house. Women were always busy cleaning, cooking, and ironically sewing, but usually mending. The man went to work and came home to relax. We witnessed this for years and years and years and really it didn’t start to change socially until quite recently.
Now I will share that I had a slightly different view of this. Both my grandmothers worked and my grandfathers retired pretty early. In fact, one of my nans still works in her 70s. I had an up-close view of the role reversals of my grandparents when most of their generation did not work like this. My grandad did a lot of the cooking when we were growing up and he looked after us, did the school runs, etc. My nan did a lot too though, as well as working. From my view as a child, it looked pretty 50/50 but of course, I wasn’t there all of the time.
Now is very different. I feel like we still have these social expectations ingrained in us that we as women keep the house, we look after the kids … oh and we work 40 hours a week as well. Gone are the days of a 1 person income and gone are the days of staying in relationships longer than you want to. The latter is an amazing change but also puts a lot more on you if you are a single parent as well. I grew up with a single mum who worked full-time and had 3 kids and I saw that struggle.
I do think things are shifting again; both members of the household are sharing more of running that house. Gender roles aren’t really a thing anymore and in fact, genders themselves are even being dissolved.
However, there is still a massive amount of people who feel guilty for resting. And now it’s not just that you could be doing the cooking, cleaning and laundry but you could also be starting that business, writing that book, doing that bit of extra work for your boss.
How to stop feeling guilty
But how do you actually stop feeling guilty?
This is a long process. I’ve been at this self-care thing for 8 years now and I still struggle. Some of you know I had a potential mini-stroke (potential in that they are hard to diagnose). In the days after my husband wouldn’t even let me bend down to get the washing out of the machine. I hated it. I hated having to ask for him to do things, I hated not being able to do the things and I really struggled to just sit and rest. Especially because I felt fine in the days after (luckily). When I’m truly, physically sick I have no problem staying in bed to recover but this just felt weird and wrong. It hit me that even though I do take a good amount of time to myself now I still feel guilty about it sometimes.
I do find that routines can help when it comes to not feeling too guilty. For example, some of my cleaning routines are folding the laundry in the evening while the kids get ready for bed, cleaning the bathrooms on a Saturday morning, tidying/sorting etc on a Monday morning. Knowing these things happen stops me from feeling guilty at other times of the day.
For example, if I sit down with my stitching on a Sunday evening and notice there are a lot of toys out in the living room I don’t worry too much because I know tomorrow is Monday and that is when I put them all back away. Sometimes I do a quick pick-up because I prefer to stitch when the room is tidy but I don’t do a lot.
Or when the kids come in from school I will sometimes sit and read or stitch while they are playing. I might see the pile of laundry I washed that day waiting to be folded but I leave it until later when I know it will get done.
So not only do routines help you find more time for yourself, they help you feel less guilty about taking that time too.
Doing it and seeing the benefits
This might seem obvious but the more you take time for yourself the more you will want to do it. The little dopamine hits you get from reading some of your book, doing a little bit of stitching etc is something your brain will want more of so you will keep finding the time.
And you will start to see how much better you feel in yourself and see the benefits (and feel them) and so will keep finding the time. This doesn’t have to be hours at a time to work; I always say there is power in 10 minutes and even just 10 minutes can make you feel so much better. Which in turn can make you feel less guilty about doing it.
Pretend you’re your best friend
If someone came to you and said they were tired, burnt out and really needed some time for themselves but they’re feeling guilty, what would you tell them?
My guess is that you wouldn’t tell them to keep feeling guilty, get on with it and not take any time for themselves. You would tell them they deserve some time out and that they should take it. I’m telling you that you deserve some time out and that you should take it. And now I want you to tell yourself that.
Treating yourself as you would treat your best friend can help release some of those feelings of guilt.
I have a whole episode about this but accountability can help with feelings of guilt because if you meet someone to do your hobby together you are much less likely to feel guilty for taking the time. Once you arrange a time to meet up you can treat that time like an appointment. You are probably more likely to feel guilty about cancelling on a friend than you are about meeting up for some hobby time together.
Get out of the house
If your guilty feelings pop up because you’re in the home and can see what needs doing around you, take your hobby elsewhere. Even if you just go and sit in the garden; out of sight out of mind. But still, try and take some time inside the house too.
Sit in it
Sometimes you might just have to sit in the guilt and take the time for yourself anyway. I don’t think this is ideal to do all of the time (and I talk about why in my episode Are You Really Relaxing? which you can listen to here) but occasionally you might have to. You can slowly build in the habit that it is OK to take time for yourself instead of doing something else that you think you “should” be doing.
To sum up, just know that we as a generation are doing so much more than we have done before and need time to rest more than ever before too. Although it may take time, you releasing feelings of guilt will help you take more time for yourself.
I have gotten much better at taking time to read, stitch etc and not feel guilty about it but even I still do sometimes feel guilty. I think it’s pretty normal for some guilt feelings to come up. But we have to learn to not let those feelings stop us from doing what we want to do or ruining the time we do take.
I hope this helps you feel a little less guilty next time you sit down to do something for yourself.