When is it necessary to take care of yourself and when is it selfish?
I'm coming to the realization that it's always necessary to take care of yourself first.
That's a hard sentence to write. I don't want that sentence to be true because it sounds so selfish, it sounds so self-serving, but if I take a moment and think about it, to remove the layers of people-pleasing and societal conditioning, I realize it's not selfish but necessary and that in fact, taking care of myself first is the least selfish thing I could do.
I've said it before but I'll say it again, taking care of yourself is no more selfish than putting your own oxygen mask on first in the unlikely event of a change in cabin pressure. You can't help those around you if you can't breathe.
And mamas, do you realize that on a plane, this message is always focused on you. You too deserve, no need, oxygen and the flight attendants know that your instinct will be to give your people their oxygen first.
Depriving yourself of oxygen doesn't work at 30,000 feet and it doesn't work at sea level. If you continually sacrifice your own space, your own needs, you will crash both mentally and physically.
I've spent a good portion of the last 10 years going to bed thinking about the business, only to wake up thinking about the business. I've taken my morning coffee over emails instead of over devotionals. I've sacrificed sleep, showers, family events, all while believing that if I did, the business would grow stronger, become more profitable. I somehow conditioned myself to believe that if I wasn't stressed, I wasn't working hard enough; I wasn't moving the needle.
But the truth is, being stressed never led to higher profits. It led to burnout, it led to resentment, it led to making the same mistakes over and over again and it led to busy but not productive days/nights.
I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only one. That if you're a business owner, a mom/dad or both an entrepreneur and a parent, that you sacrificed space for yourself first. You said, consciously or not, that everyone and everything else was more important than you.
You have to create space for yourself. Space to breathe, to think, to recharge, to evolve into who you are meant to be.
And if you do, if you carve out some time for yourself, the time that you give to your business, to your family, will be of a much higher quality. You'll smile more, laugh more, have more patience. It's counter-intuitive but if you take time to focus on your health (both physical mental) you end up having a better time both with your family/friends and while doing your daily work.
I encourage you to find some space for yourself. I recommend mornings before the emails come in and before the kids wake up, but only you know how you operate and what your schedule looks like, so pick the time that works best for you. Pro tip: if you're married, share this with your spouse. Meaning, if you are going to wake up an hour earlier than normal, let them know why the alarm is going over, so they can encourage you to get up and so they can help protect the intentions of that time.
What are you going to do with that space?
Anything that recharges you.
Exercise - everyone says it, because it's true. Energy creates energy. If you want to have more productive days, start by moving your body
Write - I love writing because it helps clear the fog in my own brain. But if a full journal entry is not your thing, try writing down 5 things you are grateful for and 3 tasks that if you completed them today you would feel awesome about yourself when you went to sleep
Call a Friend - this is one of my favorite ways to recharge, just keep in mind the time of day
Take Care of the Little Things - those things that keep weighing you down and make you feel like a waste of space.
Tackle a Big Project - if you are working on something big, you are going to have to give it your first fruits of the day. Use this self-care time to devote yourself to your passion project before the necessities of the day get in the way
How do you self-care? I'd love if you would share your pro tips in the comments below so that others can get inspired.
For more on this topic listen to Episode 52 of The Vendor's Daughter podcast.