It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into. When you’re busy, 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 yourself when schedules are crowded, your inbox seems to be multiplying by the minute, and everyone needs you. The pressure feels great – and the lure of comfort food instead of a quality time-out is strong.
When you’re busy, overloaded, and stressed, self-care can seem like one more “should” instead of the glue that holds us together.
During times like this, you might start telling yourself that me-time or being kind to yourself is just one more thing you 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 your to-do list gets out of control. No wonder chips seem so much more appealing.
When you decide that there just isn’t time today, it can seem like you’re being realistic, like you’re eliminating some pressure, and even (paradoxically) like you’re actually creating time for yourself when you cross yourself off your 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 you to show up ready—focused, energized, and primed to dig in and give your very best. Like the car you rely on, you need to be fueled, tuned up, and running smoothly. Tremendous things don’t get accomplished tremendously when you’re exhausted, sugar-dazed, over-caffeinated, or barely keeping your head above water.
It’s a trap to believe that you don’t have time to take good care of yourself. This belief is backward and an outgrowth of the mindset that focusing on your needs is an indulgence, an extra, or a bonus that you need to somehow earn. With this belief in place, it’s easy to see why self-care isn’t happening for so many busy women.
Let’s put things in the right order.
Self-care is not an extra. It’s actually the prerequisite for your optimal effectiveness and success.
Taking good care of yourself actually creates more time by helping you show up to your life as your best version of you – focused and energized and primed to make things happen. Taking good care of yourself 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. In fact, that’s the opposite of self-care.
But a little dab of self-care applied consistently can change your life. Self-care, done right, will pay you back.
Start small. Commit to 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 possibly make a difference.
Want a time limit? Start with ten minutes. Gift 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 yourself 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 probably isn’t going to refuel, 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:
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, then rinse and repeat. And when life is super busy, let it be this simple.
Are you getting the prioritizing 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, tips, and tricks. It’s a life in progress for all of us!