Many women have an internal instinct to put others first—family is usually at the top of the list, business comes in at a close second, and all the extra errands and chores on the never-ending to-do list slide in at third. As a result, we put ourselves on the backburner day after day for what seems like the greater good.
It’s time to ease off the gas and get back to yourself.
The truth about the “greater good” is that nurturing yourself first is actually what’s best for everyone. The problem is that busy minds often think they don’t have time for “self-indulgence.” Sure, taking care of yourself may seem selfish at first, but if you’re unhealthy who will do all those wonderful things you do? If you’re unhappy, how will your productivity and patience suffer? Moving yourself to the front burner ultimately better for everyone whose lives you touch.
You don’t have to make drastic changes to your routine, just start with a few small adjustments—or choices that put your happiness first. Start with the one you feel is the easiest to incorporate into your day. This will keep you from feeling guilty or blaming yourself if a to-do list goal is not met. Slowly add more tweaks from the list below to your weekly routine. You will notice the changes and start to see why this approach isn’t at all selfish, rather loving to your mind, body, and soul. And in turn, loving to all that you do.
Looking around the house you see something at every angle that needs your attention. You’re tired and ready to relax but your mind pulls you toward the mail at the end of the table or the laundry that’s piled in the corner. As responsible and loving as it may be to handle those tasks for yourself and everyone around you, ask yourself these questions:
- How tired am I?
- Does my mind need a break?
- How important is it that the task is done now?
- Is it worth my sanity?
Sanity may seem like a strong word to use for some simple task around the house but when stacked together day after day without down time it can feel as though you’re losing yourself—losing yourself and mind in a mental to-do list, creating more chores before the current one is complete. Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel the need to curl up with a good book or soak in a bath, even if the dishes need washing.
Women are excellent at playing multiple roles on the stage of life. Sometimes it seems as though the more we do, the more we think we’re showing the world around us how strong, responsible, complete, and capable we are at handling anything you can throw our way. As true as that may be, we suffer. We put ourselves aside over and over again. How many times have you said to yourself, “When this is done, I will have more me time?” But we all know that before “this” is done you’ll create a whole new list of “that” to do.
Without balance we become unhappy and unhealthy. The goal here is to bring balance to your everyday life. This may be a slow process but just the act of awareness will start the transition. Cut and paste these yin and yang tips on your refrigerator, desk, or anywhere else you will see them every day. It will serve as a daily reminder of your intention to add the delicate task of balance to your day-to-day tasks.
- Work / Play
- Children Time / Adult Time
- Strategic Planning / Meditation
- Nurturing Others / Nurturing Yourself
Do What a Man Would Do
Even when there are dishes in the sink, bills to pay, and floors to sweep, men don’t hesitate to flop down on the couch and turn on the TV for a little “me” time. It can drive the women in their lives nuts because, unlike men, we have a difficult time turning off the to-do list. But, maybe they are on to something. The next time you’re aggravated due to your partner’s actions, ask yourself the following:
- Why am I upset?
- Do I want to relax, too?
- Why am I denying myself?
That’s not to say that you should lie around on the couch all day and watch TV. You can, however, allow yourself some time to explore the things you love to do, whether that means time for your yoga practice, reading, going to the gym—or which might mean giving yourself the time to watch a TV show at the end of a long day and save some chores for the next day. The chores will still be there, your Zen may not.
Bonus: this can also help strengthen your relationship. Your spouse will appreciate a little bonding time and most likely be happier to help with the chores once you’ve both decompressed a bit.
The bottom line is that you impact those around you in ways you may not even realize. If you’re happy, that happiness seeps into everyone else’s life.