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Taking Care of Self is not Selfish

This post is inspired by Patrina O’Connor and Lisa Talbot

On Saturday, December 1st, 2018, I had the pleasure of facilitating part of a wonderful 3 hour session for women. The aim: to emphasize the importance of self-care and sharing strategies on making time for self!  For many years people have asked me how I manage to do so much…how I still find time for myself and my friends…why I don’t ever stop! For many years I complained about my load.  My answer now is simply, “I have to do what I have to do to keep the lights on!”  And so, I trudge on…

In a questionnaire to the women, what was profoundly similar in their responses was five top stressors: children, family, finances, health, and work.  The bottom line was that the women put so much of their own time into all five of these categories that self got left out – every time!

What I can share with readers is that there are three key things you absolutely must do to take better care of yourself:

  1. Communicate to all those people who are constantly pulling on your time that you are taking time for you.  This may be for half an hour a day, an hour each night, one hour a week, two hours on the weekend.  Whatever the time, do not allow anyone else to interrupt it.  People are always okay with you doing for them as long as the outcome is for their needs to be met.
  2. Do not allow yourself to be consumed with how people will feel about you if you say no.  And with “no” you do not owe explanations such as, “I can’t do it or help you because I have this, that, and the other to do!”  Simply say, “I’m unable to assist” – no explanation necessary.  It’s YOUR time, you are an adult, you owe no explanations. If they get upset with you for not stepping in to help, they will eventually get over it – and if they don’t, recognize they can’t really care too much for you and your well-being in the first place.  Say no and mean it!
  3. Treat yourself!  I gave the ladies a list of twenty things they could do to help uplift themselves.  This is the list:

Do-able pick-me-ups for YOU!

  1. Stop by a relaxing spot on your way home. Sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Buy some flowers for yourself and put them in a vase in a visible place.
  3. Play classical music.
  4. Book a spa treatment.
  5. Paint pottery.
  6. Go to a movie.
  7. Treat yourself to a dinner for one.
  8. Try a spontaneous new hair style.
  9. Schedule one hour a night for a week for your favorite hobby.
  10. Do grocery shopping when the stores are less likely to be crowded.
  11. Do household chores on a Thursday evening to keep the weekend free.
  12. Walk along a beach and listen to the waves.
  13. Take a weekend drive and buy yourself ice-cream.
  14. Sit outdoors at home and close your eyes.
  15. Purchase something that you want – and have it gift wrapped.
  16. Take a ferry ride and do a walk about Dockyard to check out the sights.
  17. Take an evening walk around Hamilton.
  18. Hang out in the bathroom with candles and music.
  19. Color, paint, and/or draw.
  20. Stay in bed for 4 or more hours and watch movies.

The ladies were asked to put a check mark next to all the things they have done for themselves THIS YEAR.  Two of the eighteen ladies put a check mark next to ten or more on the list.  Sixteen of the ladies barely found a few.  This was a clear indication that time for self was required.  The items of this list are things I do regularly….for me.  It keeps balance in my otherwise hectic schedule.

It’s important to realize that you will make many mistakes along the way.  You are human and more likely than not balancing a lot as well.  Let the mistakes be the catalyst for something off the list I have shared to pick yourself back up.  Just understand that if you do not take care of you, there is no way you will be of much good or use to anyone else, regardless of how much you aim to please.

The ladies realized that they had to make a fresh start to do things differently and to make a concerted effort to schedule time for self! I encourage you to do the same!

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Thank you some very much, just getting home from doing what, every thing for everybody else. Here now making lunches for the week, ironing uniforms, getting meat ready for the week…… been going since Friday night for everyone else, grocery shopping, cooking babysitting, the whole nine yards. Thank you so very much again.

    1. That’s a lot, Gail. I hope that the article will help you to start focusing more on YOU. You absolutely can’t keep going like this. I encourage you to read it again. All the best.

  2. Interesting that you would cover this topic. I was recently told I need to visit my doctor because I may have a hidden health issue. I was told this a few weeks ago, but work, finances and family and I have not had time. Then I banged my foot so bad, that I can only hobble and I had to be persuaded to go to the doctor.
    I realized that if I don’t do me, I can’t do for others. Time to put it in action, as I hobble to work to ensure I lay out plans so I can be prepared for the time I may need to be off but can’t take. What is worse, I tell others, you are sick, you are in pain, you are etc it is okay to stay home. But I don’t take my own advice.
    Thanks for the advice. Now let me see about looking after me, but first I have to …

  3. I strongly believe in taking care of ourselves first. I started really taking the time to just appreciate myself and shower myself with love, time, attention, and gifts! It allows me to be a better mother, and overall, a better person. I’ve realized that my pitfalls in life were due my lack of attention paid to myself. A lot of us are taught to ‘not be selfish’ and to put others needs before ours, and (in my opinion) that couldn’t be further from the truth! Bringing me to the forefront of my own universe has taught me to really see myself, and has helped me develop more compassion towards others. Like they tell you on the plane… put your own oxygen mask on first, and THEN help those around you.

    1. Amanda, I think the world of you and I know how hard you have worked to make yourself whole again. You are doing a great job and I love what you have written and I know you are living every word you wrote and I encourage you to keep on shining and being a bright light for the world.

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