For many working mothers, busy professionals and women business owners, things like better self-care, me-time and prioritizing your own needs often seem important but incredibly unrealistic. “How am I supposed to make time for me when I have so much on my plate?”
I’ve been there, believe me— I go there—too. It can feel impossible to even think about taking better care of ourselves when our schedules are so crowded, the piles on our desk (and in our email inbox) are multiplying by the minute, everyone needs us, and the pressure feels so great.
When we are busy or overloaded and stressed, self-care can become one more “should.”
Me-time or being kind to ourselves can become one more thing we have to do. And that doesn’t feel good or indulgent or caring. It just feels stressful and overwhelming. No wonder those acts of self-care are often the first things to go when our to-do list gets out of control.
When we decide that there just isn’t time today, it can seem like we’re being realistic, like we’re eliminating some pressure and even (paradoxically) like we’re actually creating time for ourselves when we cross ourselves off our to-do list. Unfortunately, it just isn’t so.
The truth is, when life is stressful and overwhelming, we need self-care more than ever. A demanding life requires us to show up ready—focused, energized, and primed to dig in and give our very best. Like the car we rely on to get us where we want to go, we need to be fueled, tuned up, and running smoothly. Tremendous things don’t get accomplished tremendously when we are exhausted, sugar-dazed or over-caffeinated, or barely keeping our heads above water.
It’s a trap to believe that we don’t have time to take good care of ourselves. This belief is all backwards and an outgrowth of the mindset that focusing on ourselves is an indulgence, an extra, or a bonus that we need to somehow earn. With this belief in place, it’s easy to see why self-care isn’t happen for so many busy women.
Let’s put things in the right order.
Self-care is not an indulgent waste of time. It’s actually the prerequisite for our optimal effectiveness and success. Taking good care of ourselves actually creates more time by helping us show up to our lives as our best version of ourselves. Focused and energized and primed to make things happen. Taking good care of ourselves is like topping off the oil in your car and putting gas in the tank. To say it makes a huge difference is a ridiculous understatement.
Stop telling yourself you don’t have time. You do have time. You must take the time. And before you roll your eyes or tell me I don’t understand, I do. I know how crazy life can get. It’s okay. Self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Self-care doesn’t have to begin with everything you know you need. Taking good care of yourself doesn’t have to overrun and overwhelm your life.
But a little dab of self-care applied consistently can change your life. Self-care, done right, will pay you back.
Start small. In my 5 Simple Steps to Move Beyond Overwhelm with Food and Life series, I teach you to start with one lovely thing. One lovely reasonable, totally do-able act or gift for yourself every day. Every single day. Do-able and reasonable. This is how you start to work muscles that haven’t been used very much.
I am challenging you to do something radical (because I know you are a big thinking high-achiever). When you already feel overwhelmed, choose only self-care acts that feel entirely possible and do-able. Even if your high-achieving self tells you that something so small can’t possible make a difference.
Want a time limit? Start with ten minutes. Give yourself ten minutes. If you do this, you might be amazed.
Ten minutes of journal writing in the mornings has the potential to shift your whole day. So does ten minutes of soothing stretches at the end of the workday. A quick phone call to a friend, ten minutes of quiet gazing out the window with a cup of tea, or ten minutes of those pilates exercises that really do soothe your aching back.
How do you make space for you when life feels overwhelming?
Refuse to deny your need for high quality me-time. Approach your right to good care with profound compassion and respect. And then, do your best. Give yourself those baseline ten minutes every single day. This is the bare minimum, and in almost all cases, on almost all days, the sky won’t fall in if you take this time. These 600 seconds are for you.
Choose your me-time wisely. Surfing Facebook is not high quality self-care. It may feel like a break, but it isn’t going to refuel or rejuvenate or ground you. Make a list of ways to spend ten minutes that leave you feeling better, stronger, more focused, or more solid. Here are some suggestions that work for me and many of my clients (if you’d like the easiest possible plug-and-play option for ten minute self-care, check out my Success Soundtrack™):
Stop and breathe (that’s it)
Listen to music
Go for a short walk or get outside
Ask yourself what you need and really listen
Figure out what feeds your spirit, rinse and repeat. And when life is super busy, let it be this simple.
Are you getting the priority and the me-time you need and deserve? Do you allow yourself to believe that it’s essential? I’d love to hear your thoughts, your tips, and your tricks. It’s a life in progress for all of us!
Take good care,