Carina Lawson, founder of eco-friendly planner brand Ponderlily, knows how hard it can be to make time for wellbeing, which is why she’s helping people create space for meaning and a life of fullness, rather than busyness
How many times has Sunday evening rolled around, and you’ve promised yourself you’re going to make a dentist appointment, address an ongoing health issue, or book to have your haircut in the week ahead, only to find your personal to-dos fall to the bottom of your list by Monday lunchtime? Is there something on your list right now that you know would make you personally feel better or healthier, but you’ve simply not got around to, or can’t find the time for?
If the answer is yes, then you’re part of a huge group of people who unwaveringly meet external obligations and find time to support others, but constantly de-prioritise themselves to their own detriment.
Carina Lawson knows this way of living all too well. As a business analyst and mum to young twin girls, in 2014 Carina had become overwhelmed by her obligations and no longer, she says, felt like herself.
“I was at a point in my life where I was overscheduled, overextended in terms of commitments, I was very successful, and I was sick,” she explains.
After cancelling countless doctors’ appointments, Carina became worried by how ill she felt and finally sought medical advice. The suggestion was simply to get more rest, and she carried on as before. However, the feeling of tiredness and lack of room for herself in her own life stayed with her, and she began to observe the same in others.
“I listened to my colleagues talk about what they wished for, like going for a walk in the middle of the day, or making time for a yoga class – and they spoke about these things like they were a far away dream,” she explains. “I realised that while we’re so good at our professional and parenting roles, most of us find it really hard to achieve the simplest of tasks that affect our physiology, like making time for lunch, drinking enough water, or getting fresh air.
“We ignore our basic needs, and I was doing that myself because I felt that everybody else’s needs were more important than mine.”
Shortly after this realisation, Carina’s feelings of burnout came to a head as she finally made her way back to the doctors. “I pulled my car over to the side of the road, and I ugly cried,” she says. “I just remember saying to myself ‘this is enough’ over and over again. I’d had enough, and what I had to give to others had to be enough for everyone else, too.”
"I was on a mission to help women make more empowered decisions about their time"
Carina decided that she wanted to create a future where her children would never dismiss their own needs for the sake of others, or be frightened about vocalising that they were tired or ill. “After that, I was on a mission to help women make more empowered decisions about their time. I don’t know what happens to us all – the roles that we play just take over at a certain point – but it’s really up to us to draw that line in the sand and take care of ourselves first.”
Here, Carina shares a few of the ways she began to prioritise herself, which could be a starting point for you, too:
Make time for morning affirmations
When I was struggling with anxiety, I found that a way to cope was to write down an intention or an affirmation first thing in the morning to help me anchor my day. I would refer back to that over the following hours to help me – my favourite is: “All will be well.”
Take back downtime
For a while, bedtime with my twins would be tough, as they’d ask me to stay in the room while they fell asleep. So I’d use little pockets of time to pursue my own thoughts while sitting in their room, and that’s how I started Ponderlily. I’d send an email here and there, and little by little I got that time for creativity, and myself.
Don’t be afraid to say “No”
It takes so much mental toll to have to orchestrate all the pieces of your life – family, work and beyond. We put so much pressure on ourselves to make everything work, and for it all to be perfect but, sometimes, it’s not possible to do everything. I’ve realised it’s OK to admit that and say no – it’s healthy to do that.
Health is everything
Being a mum to two girls, my health is everything to me now, because I want to be there for them and set a good example. Now, those doctor appointments go in my diary and they are immovable, as is downtime after we launch new collections. It’s so important that you recognise when you need that time out, for yourself and those around you.
Carina Lawson is the founder of eco-friendly productivity and planner brand Ponderlily – which we’re big fans of at Happiful! Find out more at ponderlily.com