Do you ever feel pulled in many directions all at once? Do the needs of others - clients, staff, children, family, friends - often get put before your own needs? Is taking time for yourself at the bottom of your "to do" list? If so, you are not alone. Why is it so difficult for people, women in particular, to put their own self-care/self-nurturing needs as a top priority?
Perhaps it is the voice that says, "self-care is selfish or self-indulgent" that serves as a roadblock to taking time for yourself. Or maybe it is because most of us are multi-tasking and juggling to keep all the balls in the air - family, work/business, health, finances, and so on - that stopping to take time for your self is considered to be a luxury versus a necessity.
Yes, that's right - taking time for your self is a necessity! Without taking time for yourself, at some point, you are likely to feel overwhelmed, stressed, burnt out, depressed and lacking an overall sense of joy and purpose in your life. Your overall health will suffer and it will likely become harder to tend to all of those other people, priorities and responsibilities if you neglect tending to your own needs for replenishment, relaxation and renewal. You may recognize this pattern to be true!
On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with the amount of time you take for yourself? What activities fill the precious time you take for yourself? Are they things that bring you into a strong connection with yourself and foster your overall sense of well-being, balance, and/or fulfillment? (for example, exercise, meditation, yoga, journal writing, a walk in nature, listening to music, taking a relaxing bath, going to a spa, making art, reading...) Or are they things that take you away from yourself, distract you, and do not add any real value to your experience of the moment? (mindless eating, hours of TV, empty conversations...).
Is there anything you would like to change in terms of either how much time you take for yourself and/or what you fill this time with? Allow yourself, should you feel inspired to do so, to set some goals here. Also take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the time you do take for yourself - really connect with a sense of pride for your ability to do this in the midst of it all - it is an act of will to protect time for yourself and to fill it with loving acts of self-care.
What are the benefits of taking time for yourself?
1. You get to hear your own thinking and slow the mind down - giving your mind and body an opportunity to relax and replenish.
2. You can gain a new perspective - taking time for yourself affords you the chance to see yourself and your circumstances from a fresh perspective (I often hear people say they avoid taking time for themselves because they are afraid of who they might meet, what they might realize if they slow down and spend time in their own company) - allow yourself the joy of time with yourself.
3. You say "I'm worth this time" - an affirming message that can create positive, uplifting feelings of happiness, calm and peace within. Eckart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now, says "if you really want peace, you will choose peace." If you want to feel worthy, treat yourself as worthy.
4. By saying "yes" to taking time for yourself - you are saying "no" to being constantly on. You are giving yourself permission to fill your cup back up - which gives you the energy for all the caring, giving, serving, helping, and doing that fills the rest of your time. This is balanced living.
5. The more you give to yourself, the better you are at giving to others - this is the helper's paradox! If you fear that if you take time for yourself that you are taking away from what you can offer others - the opposite is actually true because in fact you bring your best self to the activities of your life when you are feeling healthy, whole and well cared for - both in terms of self-care and the care from others that you are open to receiving.
6. Reduce stress -- taking time for yourself to rest, to do your favourite things, reflect, replenish, be in nature, notice beauty and so forth are all generous self-loving ways to reduce stress while increasing your overall health and well-being.
We all know it can be difficult to make time for ourselves in the midst of so many competing demands on our time. Knowing the many benefits that come from the act of making yourself a priority can support you with this important area of self-care.
Lynda Monk may be contacted at http://www.creativewellnessworks.com
Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, MSW educates and supports helping professionals, healers, and leaders to radically reduce stress, prevent burnout and create a well balanced life through the art of self-care. Lynda is the founder of Creative Wellness, an arts-based life and health coaching business that offers signature group coaching programs, replenishing retreats, training, speaking services, information products and holistic wellness resources. Lynda publishes a free bi-weekly Creative Wellness Tips & Tools Museletter offering you both inspiration and information for self-care in mind, body, heart and spirit in both life and work http://eepurl.com/exmc.