Self-Care isn't Selfish. It's survival. Take a Break Before You Break. I say it all the time and I am learning to take my own advice. I know when I am overtired, mentally stressed and physically exhausted. I need to take a break instead of pushing on, spreading myself too thin and risking crankiness to all who cross my path.
There are four steps to a successful Break. You have to do a bit of advance planning and learn to recognize your own signals and then be willing to act upon them. As my mother used to say (constantly) Listen to Your Body.
- Recognize when you need to take a break. Are you making mistakes, feeling cranky, snapping at people, feeling sleepy, unable to concentrate, edgy?
- Understand what works for you. Take a nap, go for a run, walk around the block, write in a journal, color, take a bath, get a pedicure, read a light novel, bake, knit, sit on your porch.
- Commit to making it happen. Don’t put it off or think you don’t have time. Make the time. You will feel refreshed and be much more productive and pleasant after your little break.
- Anticipate your need to take a break. Plan for it, schedule it. Then you won’t feel that this self-care activity is disruptive or gets in the way of all you need to accomplish. Rather, taking care of yourself will allow you to be more present and be much more productive and pleasant.
Most importantly: Do it.
It isn't about going on extravagant vacations once a year. Sometimes those can be more stressful than a relaxing weekend at a cottage. The thing about self-care is that it's not what you spend on the experience - it is what the experience means to you. If you are not athletic, a run might not be at the top of your list. But a nice peaceful walk could be just the tonic to help you clear your mind and fill your heart. Think about what would work for you and give yourself permission to do it - once a day, once a week, whatever timing will work for your life.
Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s survival. I know this is true. We all have to-do lists longer than Santa’s. We sometimes feel we are the only ones who can do certain tasks and that it’s more trouble to have someone else do it than to just soldier on and do it ourselves. But this is just not true. Learn to let it go. Allow others to help, find ways to take care of yourself. Cranky caregivers are no fun and those receiving care can tell when you are not at your best. Do yourself (and everyone else) a favor – The life you save might be your own.