So many times we put everyone else before our own selves. This is particularly true for us women. The kids need us. Our spouses need us. The boss is calling. My sister wants advice. Etc., etc.
Where are you on the list of those who need your time and energy? Do you feel guilty when you take time out for yourself?
I know I often suffer from this problem. I take my work seriously and I want to do the best job I can. I am prone to say yes to projects that sound interesting or someone’s call of distress without really considering how it will fit into my already busy schedule. At one point in my life many years ago I had so much on my plate mentally and physically that I broke down. I headed into depression. I lost interest in my work. I had a hard time finding the energy to enjoy my family. It took me many months to get back on track.
Our health and efforts to heal can suffer when we put ourselves so low on the list. When we are taking care of everyone else first we are likely to be too busy to exercise, too busy to go to bed early enough, too busy to stop and smell the roses.
When you pour all of your energy into doing things for others at the expense of taking care of yourself you are more likely to be grumpy, forgetful and distracted. If you run yourself into the ground, you’re not going to be much help to the people around you. You may end up sick or injured or worse.
Here is a three-step process to transform your unhealthy busy persons overwhelm into a healthy busy persons success story.
Busy Persons Step One–Make Space For Yourself:
Give yourself permission to say no to anything that is not important to you and focus on what is important. You don’t have to be all things to all people. People will fill up the space you allow them. Set boundaries at work and with family and friends.
Ask for help
Delegate, delegate, delegate! Involve the family in getting the household chores done. Hire a cleaning person. Let your co-workers or volunteers take over what they can. The key is letting others find their own way of completing the job. Set the standard for a good job then give them space (and time to learn) to meet the standard in a way that works for them. You might even be pleasantly surprised by their novel and more efficient approach!
Busy Persons Step Two–Optimize Yourself:
Get enough sleep
You will feel better and be better if you get enough sleep. Thinking you can short change sleep to get more done may backfire when you are fuzzy headed, forgetful and slower. Go to bed earlier, turn off the TV, leave the cell phone in the living room.
Eat healthy and hydrate
A diet that is high in raw fruits and veggies will give you more energy to tackle what’s ahead of you. Many people find that they are more focused after switching to a vegan and raw vegan diet. Drink plenty of water throughout the day
Search Your Soul
Start a journal and/or get help from a qualified therapist to uncover patterns and beliefs that may be preventing you from prioritizing self-care. It can be hard to put things into perspective when you are overwhelmed. Even thinking about making a change can seem like just one more thing to do. Sharing with a trusted professional or friend can be a big help.
Take time for YOU!
Make a regular date with yourself to do ….. whatever YOU like. Sit and do nothing, be creative, take up or get back to a hobby, visit with a friend, garden, whatever it is that makes you feel good. What is it that you always enjoy doing but somehow can’t find the time for? Make time for it.
Take time each day for yoga, tai chi or meditation
Starting your day with internal exercise can help you relax, calm your mind, and learn to listen to what your body is telling you. Starting your day feeling centered and clear is an important way of putting yourself first on the list.
Get regular exercise
Take a walk at lunchtime. Get up from your desk and climb the stairs. Park your car at the farthest corner of the parking lot. Ride your bike to work. Even if going to the gym is not possible there are many ways you can incorporate physical exercise into your day. Not only will you look better, exercise will help energize you and may help you release tension and stress.
Put yourself on your schedule
Block out time for self-care on your calendar. Include your exercise time, pamper yourself time, date night, or other self-care time. When a potential conflict arises say “I’m not available!” This time must take precedence over all but real emergencies. If you must make a change, reschedule your ME-Time for another day that week.
It was hard but I was able to put my life back in order. I had to learn to delegate at home and at work and let go of the control over exactly how things would get done. I had to say goodbye to several boards and committees I sat on. I created a space in my house that was my get away spot. I took time to do some deep soul searching. I came to grips with the reality that my marriage needed to end.
My children and job survived. In fact I am sure my daughters learned valuable lessons. They learned about responsibility, pitching in and helping and taking care of themselves. Hopefully they also learned important lessons about taking time for themselves as adult women. On the job they realized that they needed to add more staff.
I still need to remind myself to stop and take care of ME from time to time. But overall, I am much better at making space for myself, optimizing myself, and nurturing myself.
Give a gift to yourself, your family and your work by opening up to a happier, healthier, more effective self. Take time for you and reap the benefits.
How do you nurture yourself? Or what WILL you do now that you have made a commitment to make time in your busy schedule for you? Tell us in the comment section.