Do you find yourself saying “Stop the merry-go-round, I want to get off!” You’re not alone. All the stuff going on and the things you are looking after are not you. They are not your life; they are in your life. They may be important and a priority, but when push comes to shove, they are not your life.
If putting yourself first sounds too selfish or too hard, try something simpler. Put yourself on equal footing with those you love, care about and tend to. Do you insist that they get enough sleep? Start doing it for yourself too. Do you give them time for fun and socializing with friends? Then do the same! Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Human beings must meet their basic needs before they can move on to higher-level goals.
Since most of us already know that we should take care of ourselves—but often have trouble figuring out how to do it—here are some guidelines for getting there:
• Preserve your physical health with adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
• Kill one bird with two stones, combining family time with exercise, which benefits everyone involved.
• Value your emotional health as much as the physical, with a support system of friends and family.
• Schedule fun activities on a regular basis. It is as important to plan pleasure, as it is to plan work.
• Identify “busy behaviors” (or people) that drain your time and energy but aren’t really important and minimize their hold on you.
• Learn to say “NO!” Your “yes” is valuable and should not be automatic. Instead, reserve it for the things that are most important to you.
• Don’t try to change every problem area in your life all at once. Start with one or two items and then expand as you get things under control.
Your life should be like a checking account, balancing out on a regular basis so that you always have assets to draw upon. By making even small deposits—taking care of yourself with a 10-minute walk or a nutritious meal—you’ll be amazed at the interest you’ll reap.
Take a look at how you are seeing yourself and the things that you need to do to be healthy and happy. You matter, simple as that, A LOT!
Carol A. White
Personal Fitness Specialist