We are all busy people and this is a busy world. We are mothers, fathers, parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandchildren, professionals, friends, and so many other roles. We make time for the people and things that matter most to us and often at the expense of ourselves and our personal priorities.
Now in an era where self-care is critical to your peace of mind, sanity, and ability to function, how do you take care of yourself? Do you carve out time for yourself? If you don’t, what’s stopping you? These and other questions I will attempt to answer here, where I explain why it is okay to take time for yourself in a world of constantly competing priorities.
Give Yourself Permission
Many of us want to say no to something, or in my case many things, but then we feel guilty about it and we end up saying yes. We say yes because we don’t want to appear selfish, or are concerned the other party will get upset or be disappointed with us.
I ask you, what’s the better scenario: to say yes and feel resentful – because you don’t want to be doing something or taking on another activity – or, being honest and taking care of your needs and feeling happier and more in control of your time and energy?
Give yourself permission to make guilt-free choices that benefit you.
Clearly the better answer is the latter. A cheesy but effective way to deal with the guilt is to write a permission slip to yourself. The permission slips can be modeled after the ones we write for our children excusing them from school or an activity and/or like the ones our parents used to write for us.
Give yourself permission to make guilt-free choices that benefit you. You don’t have to be everything to everybody, and you certainly shouldn’t do it at the expense of yourself. You will be surprised how much better you feel once you give yourself permission to opt-out of things you don’t want or need to do and I encourage to undertake this exercise immediately.
Learn to Say No!
The key to creating more time for yourself and your individual needs is learning to say “no” to requests and obligations that you don’t want to do. In this case, saying no is like carrying out a “spring cleaning” of the house.
At first, you think everything is necessary and you want to hold on to it. But once you begin getting rid of these unwanted and unused items, you create more space, lighten your load and feel freer. These positive feelings help you gain momentum and so you keep going, with each step feeling better than the last. By the time you’ve finished, the house looks great and you feel great! And saying no can also make you feel this way,
Figure out why you want more free time and what is going on in your life that is making you feel this way. Once you’ve made time to figure out the root cause(s) of your feelings, then you can start on a path toward changing the environment around you and how you respond to it. You will also be able to determine what you need and able to execute a plan that will help you find a path to greater happiness and equilibrium in the roles you inhabit in your life.
Limit and/or Eliminate Distractions
Find ways to carve out time for yourself every day, even if it is only for 15 minutes. Shut the door and make it clear you need a few moments of uninterrupted you time.
When you are at home, unplug. Turn off your cell phone and mobile devices and make yourself unreachable for a few moments. Instead of watching TV for hours on end of mindless programming after work, pick one or two of your favorite shows watch them, and then turn the TV off.
The average American spends 2.4 hours a day in front of the TV, but that investment yields little to no rewards. Studies show that watching TV doesn’t make people nearly as happy as activities that really engage them, like playing tennis, taking a walk, and eating with family or friends. Therefore, find your alternate and more fulfilling hobbies and activities and do them instead of wasting your time in front of the television.
For whatever reason, society dictates that if we are not actively putting our time and energy into something or someone, it is wasted time. The truth is that making time for yourself is just as important as making time for other elements of your life. Your mental health and well-being depend on it, and there is nothing wrong with putting yourself first and foremost sometimes. If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone (or anything) else, so always make yourself a priority by taking time for yourself.