Along with our health, time really is our most precious commodity. Whatever we spend our time on is a good indicator of our priorities. And if you’re like me, there’s never enough of it. I wear so many hats: wife, mother, sister, friend, therapist, supervisor, colleague…and each role comes with its own expectation of time investment. Some roles I have to fulfill; some I want to, and some fall into both categories. But one thing is certain: if I don’t manage my time well, I am not effective in any role.
Recently, giving myself time has become a higher priority than it used to be. Of course, not having it as a priority in the past means it has nowhere to go but up! I realized that if I myself am not replenished, I cannot give anything to others. I knew this – in my head – but living it takes another level of commitment and intention. I know myself well enough to know that if I have too many things to do or think about doing at one time, I’ll get overwhelmed and feel perfectly justified in doing none of them! So, I make lists. I chunk down my obligations and tasks into categories. Taking it slow and giving myself grace not to finish everything all at once is one way I practice self-care.
Another way I take care of myself is through the basics: sleep, diet and exercise. Everyone knows these three foundational needs of our lives, but at least for me, it’s not as easy to maintain them as it is to recognize the need for them. I definitely feel a difference when I neglect one or all three. But even more significantly, I refuse to beat myself up when I’m not doing the best job with these “Big Three”. Instead, I resolve to do better: at the next night’s sleep, meal, or opportunity to exercise.
Finally, I make time for alone time. It’s not regular and it’s not a lot, but I know I need at least 30 minutes a day to “decompress” in solitude. When the kids refuse their “quiet time”, I still take mine! They play together while I spend time in my room; they know not to disturb me unless someone is bleeding or on fire. And sometimes, they actually respect this space! When they are having a more difficult time, I have absolutely no guilt giving them a TV program to watch while I take some time to relax. You can be guilty or you can be exhausted, or both, or neither. I pick D.
I hope this has given you some ideas and some encouragement that you are not alone in your attempts at time management and self-care. Write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with ways you practice self-care.