Do you take time for yourself every day? Do you have rituals or routines each day that help you to recharge and rejuvenate?
For a long time I've been reading about self-care practices and how important they are not only for the individual doing them, but for those the individual gives to and cares for. If you aren't doing things to recharge yourself and refill your tank, how will you help others and take care of your family? I believe that most Americans are running around with empty tanks, trying to do more and more without taking moments to themselves for rest and rejuvenation.
Guilty as charged. I am continually brought back to this idea because I am terrible about filling up my tank. I spend my day giving to children with special needs, but don't take the time to refill my tank. I'm almost always running on empty. What does that lead to? Getting headaches, no energy, and little passion to do what I love to do the most and feeling burdened by this beautiful thing I do well. But I don't do it so well when I am running on empty. I'm tired, cranky, uncreative, and finding little joy in my work. Sound familiar?
This burnout is a common occurrence for individuals who work in the healthcare field or other career area (parenting is definitely included in this category) that they are giving to and caring for others in some capacity. Why? We love to give and have a desire to help others. Or at least, that's what brought us into this field of work. Over time, we may feel that love and desire diminish over time. So why the burnout? The more we give to others, the more our mind, body, and soul need to be nourished with self-care practices. But as giving people, we often feel that taking time to care for ourselves feels selfish. What we need to wrap our heads around is that it is selfish for us not to do things to rejuvenate and refill. It's selfish because without taking time for ourselves, we are too tired, cranky, and sometimes resentful to give to others what they need of us.
We have to change this mindset about self-care practices. I challenge you to think of this depletion as a chronic condition that is remediated by self-care practices. For example, if someone had a chronic condition that required that they took medicine every day in order to stay healthy (i.e. hypothyroidism, diabetes, heart disease, etc) and they said they weren't going to take their medication because they feel selfish doing so, most people would think they were crazy or stupid. We need to view self-care practices the same way. They are medicine that we need every day to keep us healthy and happy and to prevent depletion. I'm very guilty of not taking the time because my to-do list is too long or I'm too tired to do anything besides veg out on the couch. But as I'm writing this, I'm dealing with significant burnout, lack of creativity, lack of energy, and lack of desire to do much besides watch tv. Guess why? I have stopped doing things daily, just for me, to refill my tank. At best, I am doing 2 activities weekly. When I am doing things daily, my life is much better and smoother- I'm less stressed, happier, loving my job, not having psychosomatic illnesses (headaches for me), and feeling joy daily. One thing I've found too is that the time spent in self-cares is very sensitive to how the time is distributed. For example, if I spend 2 hours weekly on self-care on 2 different occasions, it does not have nearly as positive affect as it does when spreading those 2 hours out throughout the week and completing at least 15 minutes a day, every day. Think of it like charging your cell phone, which most people do every day. Generally, at the end of the day that would plug it in and recharge it for a full battery the next day. They wouldn't leave it dead for a few days and then leave it on the charger for a longer amount of time (beyond a full charge) and hope that a longer charge would keep the phone charged longer so they wouldn't have to recharge every day. Just like most cell phones, we need to recharge every single day .
Can you commit to giving yourself a minimum of 15 minutes a day, every single day, where you do something that feels good to you, sparks joy, encourages creativity, helps you to relax? I promise it'll be worth it, but you need to be completely committed to you during that time without distractions.
Here are some ideas to try or give inspiration to you:
I hope you find ways to commit to you for just 15 minutes a day to recharge, refill, and rejuvenate. And stick with it. Good luck!