I can’t say for sure exactly when I realized that taking care of me should be my number one priority. It was likely a mindset shift that took place gradually. Recently, I’ve been asked by several people “Cheryl, how do you do it? With everything going on in your life, how do you manage to make it – and keep it — a priority?” It made me pause to reflect. And here are 5 Reasons I came up with:
- You Need to Have a Big Why. Like with many things in life that we have to create discipline and habit around, self care needs a big why. And, it’s better if your “why” is long term, not short term. For me, it’s a fear that I will not be able to feed my need for independence in old age. Look, my mom is 94 and dad is 90 and they are in relative good health. I expect to be around for awhile yet and know that my ability to do so with the quality of life I want is a tall order. It needs a long term plan and self care is that plan. Maybe for you that’s short term – an important wedding or other event you want to look and feel your best for – and that’s a great way to get started. But to sustain a level of long term self care, you need to have a long term why.
- Recognize that self care may fall into the “important but not urgent” use of your time quadrant ala Stephen Covey and accept that reality. That means, in order to make room for it on your crazy-ass calendar, you have to treat it with some urgency or attach a higher level of importance to it. Whatever works for you.
- You are the only person who will be with you every step of the way from birth to death. So, how’s it going to be? Can you describe the kind of person you want to spend all that time with? What does she look like? Feel like? Is she rested, hydrated, healthy, balanced and present? Or exhausted, overwhelmed and barely making it through her life?
- No one is going to care as much about you as you – ever. OK, your mom and dad did, and maybe you have the most caring spouse and maybe even great kids – all of whom adore you and care about you. But ultimately, each of them has his / her own needs, concerns, priorities, schedule and path through life to attend to. So you are your number one fan – or not.
- You can’t give away what you don’t have. Most people want to be in a position to help a friend of family member in need when the situation calls for it. If you are not at the top of your game – health and wellness-wise – this can be difficult, if not impossible. Making room for another “to-do” in an already hectic, demanding life can be just the thing that pushes you over the edge. If, on the other hand, you’ve done a really good, thorough job of self care, you realize that you have to shift some priorities around, temporarily, to accommodate a new one.
I hope this helps you. I realize we all have so many demands pulling at us from so many directions most of the time, it can be difficult to take a step back and look at life from a new perspective. I encourage you to spend some time doing just that.
You are the most important person in your life.
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