Tell me if this sounds familiar.
Annabelle is a working woman. She's got a full-time job that she loves, a partner that she loves, and great friends. She balances her time doing extra work around the office or bringing work home (trying to move up in her corporation), being with her partner through outings, dinner, or relaxing (usually with work in tow), and attending get-togethers with friends, whether planned or spontaneous. With all intents and purposes, Annabelle should feel ecstatic. In her own words, "I have everything I wanted to have at this point in my life..."
(wait for it...).
"...but I'm exhausted. I don't think I can keep it up and I don't even know if I want it anymore. I spend all my time trying to find balance with these things and I feel like I can't give enough to any of them. I'm at a loss, spread too thin, and I feel like a failure."
Annabelle is freaking tired. The time that she does have, she feels guilty when it's not spent doing something for somebody, whether work, partner, or with friends. When she doesn't have anything planned, she fills that space quickly with tasks and to-do lists (I know you have one, also!!), and she doesn't even want to spend her time off relaxing because it feels like a waste.
Let me let you in on a under-valued, little-known (but highly valuable) secret.
You need to take time for yourself.
I'm even going to say it again, for good measure, because I know some of you are thinking, "Yeah, but, I don't have time! I'm already busy enough! Even Annabelle doesn't have time for herself and she's your example!"
You need to take time for yourself.
I'm not going to get into "how" to make that happen here - that would require a post that's, like, 10 pages long, plus addendum throughout time because so many people have unique situations.
I can assure you, after many, many clients, that you absolutely can make time for you. It's always possible and, sometimes, it requires some outside the box thinking.
What I will get into is why it's important you take time for yourself and what you will see change for you.
1. It enhances your relationships.
Yes, you heard me right. When you take time for yourself in some capacity, you will actually be more pleasant to your partner. Additionally, you will be able to see more good from the other person. Rather than looking to your partner for fulfillment, you'll have it yourself. Having your own fulfillment means that you can outpour it to others and that you'll see more good in others, rather than bad.
2. It helps you feel better about yourself.
This is just the simplest way to say it. When you give time to yourself, you're telling yourself, "I am of value. I am worthy. I deserve to relax. I deserve to be nice to myself." By adopting that attitude, you're going to start to exude it. It will, quite literally, seep out of your pores. Be that person - the one who consistently has a twinkle in their eye.
3. It's a good model for your kids (if you have them) and/or those closest to you.
I mean, this is pretty much only relevant for those who have kids or those who are planning on it someday. In short, kids learn through modeling - NOT through conversation. 'Monkey see, monkey do.' Why yes, yes, that's exactly right. 'Do as I say and not as I do? Nope, not going to happen.'
What message do you want to send to you children? One that says "hey, you, exhaust yourself and don't value yourself enough to care for yourself." OR, "Hey, you, it's about time you took some time for yourself!" The latter - absolutely, through and through, I'll say it until I'm blue in the face, the latter.
If you take care of you, your children will learn to do the same.
4. It's a sign that you value yourself.
I mean, this really ties back in with point number two, but I'm okay with that. When we value ourselves, we give ourselves what we need. We don't shut down our needs for the sake of others, because we know that when we do that, we're exhausted, cranky, bitter, and resentful.
We know that when we put ourselves first, we can actually be of more service to others. (tweet this).
Now that's a crazy notion.
5. It's a way to stay full (internally and metaphorically) so that you have more to give.
Lastly, and this ties in with point number four, but when you give to yourself in such a way that you feel full on the inside? Well, at that point, your fulfilled (metaphorical) insides lovingly spill over onto those who are closest to you!! And then, those good experiences fuel even more good experiences. It's a good experience choo-choo train!! #allaboard!!
Have you ever left a resort, spa, good friend's house, mani/pedi salon, therapist's office (the list goes on and on) and felt really, really fulfilled on the inside? Think about that moment, and then think about how you interacted with those people in your life - the ones you passed on the street, your family, strangers, and even animals. I would hazard a guess that it was in a distinct way from your normal interaction.
I'm not promising that engaging in self-care is going to transform you into Princess Aurora or Cinder-freaking-rella, but I am promising you that engaging in self-care is going to get you feeling good on a more consistent basis.
As per usual, I love your thoughts and am looking forward to your comments. What act of self-care are you willing to engage in right now? Reach out through the contact form or email (tara@thecounselinghub) is self-care is something you want to work on in counseling.