A deadline is looming at work. A family member is ill or struggling. Your house is in disarray and there is always an endless pile of laundry to get through. There are dinners to make and lunches to prepare. Your anxiety feels like it is through the roof, yet the thought of carving out time for self-care feels impossible and seems to only add to your anxiety. You cannot possibly justify taking time to take a leisurely walk, read a book, go to a yoga class or meet a friend for coffee. Yet, this is EXACTLY the time where it is imperative for you to make that commitment to yourself.
Running on Empty
If you keep doing what you are doing, pushing through and running on empty. Eventually your cup will run out and there will be no resources to draw from. You are more likely to come down with a cold or illness if you are stressed. You probably aren’t sleeping soundly. Ask yourself, is the risk greater to keep up this pace or to take a short break to refresh?
Filling Up Your Cup
Now that you’ve decided that taking the time for yourself is important, where do you start? Jot down a quick list of activities you enjoy doing and help you feel rejuvenated. Pick one and do it now. This can be as simple as listening to a favorite song, taking a walk around the block or bringing your morning coffee outside to listen to the birds (rather than answering emails).
Remember, these should be activities that fill you up, not ones that drain you. In other words, think twice about shopping, drinking alcohol or mindless eating.
Nice in Theory
You might be thinking “this is all nice, but is taking time for myself really going to do anything. (Have you seen my laundry?)” Even small increments of time will help you manage your stress and once you start doing little things, suddenly it will seem more manageable to take more time for yourself.
The truth is that there will always be more laundry or a room to clean or a playdate for your kid. Today’s work deadline will be replaced by another one and suddenly weeks, months or even years can go by with your head down “just trying to get through.” While getting through is important, so is doing so with mindfulness and presence. The way you achieve that is by making sure there is always something in your cup to manage the next thing that comes your way.