Have you ever found yourself so engrossed in life, work, to-do list and taking care of others that you become mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted? When is there ever time for you to breathe, to relax to stretch to just collect your thoughts? Most days the answer to this question is that there is no time. Lack of self-care more often that not leads to stress and illness. We need to find time to take care of ourselves before we give our all to others.
Studies and medical experts have found that stress, which can be a side effect of lack of self care, can cause the following side effects: headache, increased depression, insomnia, weakened immune system, hypertension, and low sex drive just to name a few. This underscores the notion that lack of self care basically effects every part of your body. When working with clients on self care issues I like to use the airplane analogy. When flying you are told that in the event of a change in cabin pressure, a mask will fall from overhead and you are to put on your own mask before you assist anyone else. We need to carry this principle through life.
Tips for being intentional about self care:
- Review your daily schedule and routine, see what can be eliminated, what others can assist you with and what tasks can be grouped in and handled at a later date/time. For instance instead of cooking everyday, meal prep for the week and try to cook as many meals as possible on the weekends and freeze them so that cooking time is minimized for the week. Think of purchasing daily household items in bulk (Costco, Sam’s) so that you don’t have to make those weekly runs for toilet paper and/or cleaning supplies. The key is to find ways to fit more time for yourself into your routine.
- Be intentional and unapologetic about your time. Auntie Maxine (Waters) said it best, “Reclaiming My TIME”. If Friday from 4-5 is YOUR time, make sure to adhere to that being YOUR time. Turn off your phone, no social media, do whatever activity YOU want to do during that time. Think of it as office hours for a professor they are in their office from a certain time to a certain time, Schedule YOU time just like you schedule anything else. This is important in exercising self care.
- Ask for help. If you are overwhelmed and there are others who can help you, ask for help. If you are married ask your spouse to cook a meal or two a week. If you are a single parent ask a family member you trust or another parent for an hour of babysitting time. For work assignments, don’t try to do everything yourself. If there is a another person in your office or on your team that can help ask for help.
- Stop being everything to everyone. Too often we don the cape of Wonder Woman or Super Woman and try to do everything and be everything to everyone when we are the ones who are suffering in silence. STOP IT. Stop putting yourself last on the list, when you should be first. Self care has to become your priority.
Self-Care is necessary period. Once you being to pay more attention to yourself and your needs watch how your life changes. You will sleep better, and longer. You will wake up and start your day feeling refreshed and not tired. You will be more productive and be able to find yourself with moments where you can just sit and be still instead of running around like a toddler having a temper tantrum. YOU must find the time and ways to make YOURSELF a priority. Why not start today?