As the busy individuals that we all are, it can be hard to justify taking time for ourselves. I am just as guilty of it as the next person, but being aware of my inability to justify personal time has made me realize how important it is to our everyday lives and living our best life. What I have come to find is that if I do not take even 20 minutes for myself to do whatever I want to do, whether its take a nap, do a quick workout, or read a book, I burn out much more quickly than if I didn’t do these things. It does not have to be all three but at least one of them helps me to be more productive and have more energy. Let’s talk about why this happens and how we can achieve this ultimate balance between giving and taking.
Our bodies are like machines they function only as well as we take care of them. If we neglect our car by not taking it for oil changes or tune ups it falls apart faster. When we overload our computer with too much information it crashes. When we take a back seat to our health by eating junk food, not getting enough sleep or running ourselves ragged we begin to fall apart as well. The problem is that we put more value on taking care of our material things but we do not value the one thing that allows us to use those material things…our bodies and our minds. We only acknowledge ones sacrifices at the expense of their own health. We only recognize people when they have given so much of themselves that they fall ill and can not do it any more. It is then we not only consider them virtuous but we also pity them. We say things like “They should have taken a rest or a break.” “They should have taken a little time for themselves.” The problem is that no one views taking a break as noble or virtuous, rather they think that it’s being lazy or unproductive. People are looked down upon when they are not busting their butt or running themselves ragged. The problem we are having with this is that eventually we are going to break. Either as a person or a society or both.
We have to take care of ourselves and be OK doing so. The best way that I have found to be OK with taking time for myself is that I remind myself daily, that in order to give my best to my work, my family, and my friends, I have to give back to myself. When I am my best self or best version of myself, I can give more and be more for those that need me. It is a phrase that I have to tell myself everyday. So what do I do? I do a 20 minute yoga video. I do 20 minutes on the elliptical, I take a nap when the baby naps. Do I feel guilty as I am falling asleep because there is laundry that needs to get done, there are dishes that need to get done, I have blog posts to write. HELL YES!! Yes, I feel awful, but I remind myself, I can get 10x more done if I am rested and ready to take on tasks. My blog posts will have better content because my brain is fully functioning. I will be able to do more laundry and more dishes plus other things that I might have just left because I was too tired or unmotivated.
Another reason I am so insistent on taking care of myself is because I want my daughter to value herself and her time and her life. I want to set a good example for her so that she can understand that being stressed to the max is not as productive as we all think that it is. The thought process of thinking that being stressed is going to give better results is a fallacy. It is ingrained in our brains by a few successes that our brain associates with when we are successful when we are stressed. In the short term this may be effective, but in the long term it is really setting us up for failure because our bodies will fail. Our brains and our bodies will give out on us. So, I do not want my daughter to see me doing this and think that this is an OK way to be.
You are probably thinking, how can I do this and make it a habit to take time for self care. These are my top 5 ways that work for me and hopefully they will work for you. These are persona,l so some of them may work and some may not. However, I suggest you give them a try and see what works for you. Hopefully, there will be one thing that sticks with you and helps you feel a little better about taking better care of yourself.
- Daily affirmation: ” I am worthy of taking time for myself and doing good for me. I give my best when I feel my best. I can only do this if I am healthy and put myself first.”
- Block 20-30 minutes of “ME” time in your schedule just as you would checking emails or other work activities.
- Set boundaries. It’s important that people know that you are human too and that you deserve personal time. Maybe you could not take calls before 9am or after 7pm. Maybe you stop answering emails after 5pm or sit and have a conversation with your family about chipping in to help with household chores and activities.
- Think about things that you love to do and make a list. Check them off as you would any other check list so that you can see how taking personal time is helping you achieve your own goals
- Just start doing something for you. Forget about being selfish, because you are not. Forget about feeling badly, because you deserve to feel your best. Live your best life and take a little time for yourself…take a little “ME” time!
These are the 5 things that I do to help remind me to take time for myself. Will it be work and will you experience anxiety as you work on this? YES! It’s important that we take this time though for our own well being. I encourage you to remind yourself that you are worth 20-30 minutes of time for yourself. I encourage you to step outside of the thoughts that you are being lazy or unproductive. See that taking time for yourself will make you more productive and less lazy, more healthy and be able to give more than ever before!!
In good health!