It’s so common for women to experience stress and overwhelm in our daily lives – the burn out that comes from too much responsibility and too little time – it’s a dangerous combination. It’s particularly treacherous when that causes you not to take care of yourself, which is all too easy to do when you’re feeling stressed and overloaded.
Here’s the rub dear reader. Especially when you’re experiencing burnout and overload, you need to make intensive self-care a priority. Before you protest and start thinking of all the reasons you can’t (and I know you’re going there) – think about the ideas below for a moment:
You are the most important person in your life. Even if you dispute that – maybe you choose to put your children first – know that you’re a better parent for them if you show up as the best you can be. You’re more fun, you’re a better role model and that’s just good for you and for them – and for your spouse or partner too. And, the irony is, when you take care of yourself, you are more productive and get more done with greater ease and satisfaction. You’re also healthier in the long run.
It’s important to consider that self-care isn’t selfish; it’s an act of love and self-respect. In order to give love, you have to love yourself, it starts there and without self-love, we all wither. I’m not talking about self-obsession or conceit. I’m talking about giving to YOU what you give to those you care about most.
To that end, you can do everything you ever dreamed of with just a little more space and self-acceptance and self-love; equally important is to do something that’s good for you every day. Yes, EVERY single day. You need to feed your emotional, spiritual (however you define spiritual) and physical self. You don’t need to do all of these things every day, but one or more of them, for some time EVERY single day. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time either – 20 minutes can work wonders, truly.
If you don’t schedule this, it won’t happen – you know how it goes. Spare time doesn’t just appear – you have to make it appear. Once you make it a habit, not only will you wonder how you ever did without it, it will become more routine, easier to do and the miracle is that it frees up more time because you’ll be more effective as a result. Believe me; it’s much harder to start doing this than it is to continue once you create the habit. Good news: I’m here to help you establish the new habit!
You can start small. Go out for a cup of tea or coffee with a book, or just stare out the café window and people watch for 15 minutes. Take a walk around the block, make some time to chat with a close friend, plan some time to read a novel – just for the pleasure of it – or watch a movie or a TV show you wouldn’t usually allow yourself to indulge in.
Exercise is a great solution – while you’re getting some leisure time in, the endorphin release will add to your sense of well-being and you can get a little extra mileage from that solution. For most of us, just 20 minutes of exercise goes a long way toward improving our health, strengthening our bodies and freeing our minds.
If you just can’t see your way to any of this, try incorporating something special into what you’re doing already – cook a meal you really love instead of just getting something on the table.
Play uplifting music in the car instead of what someone else wants to hear or multi-tasking on the phone. You’ll be safer and saner at the same time. In fact, time away from your phone or device of choice can be really difficult, but very freeing. And, it gets easier, I promise, it does.
Whatever you choose, make it a habit. Incorporate one small thing every day and see if after a month you don’t feel less stressful, happier and if things don’t seem to just be flowing better in every area of life. If it sounds too simple to be true, I defy you to try it and prove me wrong!