The Paradoxical Selflessness of “Me Time”
By Paris Love
She’s kind, generous, and gives her time and efforts freely, never seeming to sit down. She is always there for her immediate and extended family and rarely declines any favor asked of her. Taking on new responsibilities at work, offering volunteer time at her church or school, this woman stretches herself more thinly than onionskin.
And, like onionskin, she is fragile. She is forgetful, distracted, tired, stressed out and resentful of the freedom of others, although she would never say it. She is physically and emotionally walking a narrow tightrope and giving has become a sacrifice of herself.
Is this woman anyone you know?
Time for yourself is essential
It’s not uncommon for women to help by giving too much. “Because women are likely to be the primary caretakers for husbands and children as well as for aging parents, we have ample opportunity to fall into the pattern of serving the people we love before we serve ourselves,” writes Valerie Monroe in O, The Oprah Magazine.
Yet if you are giving too much without refueling your energy, you are going to run out of gas. It’s just that simple. Self-care, for women especially, sometimes feels selfish, frivolous or self-indulgent when there is so much to be done for our family, friends, charity, church, or job.
If you attack this mindset head on by internalizing that taking time for yourself is a necessity, you can refuel, strengthening your ability to help others. Christina Katz, author of The Art of Making Time For Yourself, writes on BlueSuitMom.com: “Put in plain terms: if you don’t take time to rest and rejuvenate, eventually you won’t have a self to worry about.”
Living in a constant state of sacrifice and giving too much has an incredibly negative effect on not only your physical health but on your emotional well-being as well.
Self-care tips to try
It’s challenging to fit time for yourself into your already overly full schedule. But here are some ways that you can rejuvenate and attend to your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs:
1.) Put the YOU in your schedule. Write “ME-Time” into your schedule, and don’t leave your self-care to chance. The Daily OM , a blog site for nurturing mind, body and spirit says: “Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe.” You can take a walk outdoors, meditate, try yoga, or work on something creative.
2.) Write it down. Use journaling as a way to express your needs, wants, dreams, and frustrations. Stay focused when writing on your internal messages about your feelings and thoughts and not on those of others. Journal for ten minutes a day to start, remembering these key rules: use a timer, don’t stop writing, and avoid editing. Just write. For helpful tips on easy every day journaling, check out coach Deb Gilroy’s chapter in How To Create A Rich, Successful AND Fulfilling Life, called “The Power of Writing it Down.”
3.) Capitalize. Have fifteen minutes between appointments or carpool duty? Sitting in a traffic jam or taking a long plane trip? These are ideal times to relax and refuel instead of stressing out. You can use these golden nuggets of time to focus on yourself. Self-hypnosis, visualization, and deep breathing exercises are all perfect self-care vehicles for these unexpected gifts of time.
4.) Take a self-care day off. Seem impossible? Your kids need you, and so does your partner, your boss, and your other commitments. They all NEED you. But here’s some news: they will survive a day without you. Really, they will. If needed, you can arrange for a friend, sibling, neighbor, or spouse to take some things off your plate. On your day off, go to the museum, the beach, the movies, the spa – whatever you’ve been longing to do.
5.) Learn. Whether you read a powerful and inspiring self-help book, attend a conference on a topic that interests you, or take a creative course in painting, writing, art appreciation or some other topic of your choice, you are making an investment in yourself, which will also spill over to others.
Learn to say “No!” with finesse
There’s one more important aspect of taking time for yourself that is likely the most challenging of all: saying NO! For a giving, heart-centered woman, this is difficult and like any skill, must be learned. Try listening to your body – it almost always gives you messages.
For example, if you are asked to do something and your body reacts with a faster heartbeat, sucking in your breath and holding it -a feeling as if you would like to turn and run – it’s time to claim your power with a respectful, kind and loving “no.” You don’t have to give an explanation – just respond simply: ”You know I would like to help you, but it just isn’t possible for me right now. Have you spoken to Ellen? She is really good at what you need.” Repeat as necessary.
If it’s really painful to say “no,” check out the book, When I Say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smith – it’s full of great tips that help make saying “no” a little easier for you.
Remember, time for yourself is not only essential for you; it’s good for all those in your world, too!
Author, Coach, Speaker, Paris Love specializes in helping women entrepreneurs organize their goals and intentions into achievable bite-sized pieces so they restore their quality of life that’s infused with meaningful work and wealth. To learn more about her life’s work and business visit her website at www.ParisLoveInstitute.com or by calling 770-722-2748.