When Taking Care of Others Means Taking Care of Yourself

If you can’t tell from reading the title of this post, I’ve been feeling a little burned out. No, actually, let’s make that an extra crispy, black-as-charcoal kind of burned out. Like these poor pieces of toast.

Image courtesy of flickr.

Image courtesy of flickr.

Between getting the munchkins ready to go back to school and the release of 2 books, it’s been one crazy, busy month! And September’s not even over yet. Aiya. :O I’m not complaining though; I am very, very thankful (especially about school starting again, haha). But I have to admit that I’m tired … and when mama’s tired, she can get a bit grouchy. Okay, make that very grouchy.

I found myself getting impatient and frustrated with the kids more often recently and had to ask myself, Is it them or is it me? Sure, there are plenty of situations when they push all the wrong buttons and squeeze out every last drop of long-suffering juice I have left in me, but lately it’s been more a matter of me already feeling dried up with nothing to give. Especially last week when I was overseeing an all-day Facebook party and discovered that due to some technical glitches I couldn’t leave the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. Which meant I even had to bring my laptop with me when I went to pick up the munchkins from school (don’t try that at home, folks!). When we got home, I was running around like a mad woman trying to cook dinner for ourselves and my in-laws (the tables have turned ’cause my mother-in-law had knee replacement surgery) and check Facebook and help the kids with whatever they needed help with. Whew, I’m tired just remembering that day. 😉 Thankfully, the party went well and everyone was fed and in one piece by the end of the night. 🙂 But boy, was I pooped the next day … and the next and the next. And because I was pooped, I was not feeling my best or being my best. So yes, it was definitely me.

Lesson learned: I need to take care of myself in order to take care of those around me.

A friend commented recently that she realized she needs to drop one of the balls she’s been juggling. When I read that, I was like, Wow, I wish I could do that! But the truth is, I can. And I should. For the sake of my family, but also for my own sake. ‘Cause no matter how amazing a juggler I think I am, my arms need to rest once in a while. And most of all, my heart needs to recharge and refuel so I can be the best juggler wife, mama, sister, daughter and friend that I can be.

Here’s a verse I take comfort in when I’m weary.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

And here’s a beautiful, calming song for you when you’re feeling weary: “All is Well” by Voctave.

How do you know when you’re juggling too many balls?

5 Keys to Taking Care of Yourself

This aging thing is—excuse the pun—getting old. 😉 Hubby and I were commiserating about how short youth is. I came to the conclusion that the most carefree time of your life is (or should be) your childhood, your 20s and possibly your early 30s. Those are the years when you have enough energy to function after pulling an all-nighter and you can eat almost as much as you want to without paying for the consequences. And most of all, your body can better handle stress.

Once you outgrow youth and start blowing out number candles instead of regular birthday candles on your cake, you know the best gift you can give yourself is the gift of self-care.

What is self-care? Basically, the idea of caring for yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. I’d add in spiritually, too.

The older I get, the more I realize that self-care needs to be near—if not at—the top of my to-do list. Whenever I find myself feeling down or anxious or impatient, I know I’ve reached my limit and neglected to take care of my needs. If you work in a helping profession (all you folks who care for human beings on a daily basis), you’ve probably discovered this, too. And for anyone who is a parent, you definitely need some TLC on a regular basis. And who better to teach your kids about self-care than you? But of course that means you need to master it first.

What does self-care look like? Here are 5 keys to taking care of yourself.

1) Downtime. Make time for yourself. Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes a day, spend some time by yourself without any distractions. Switch off the phone. Go for a walk. Hide out in the bathroom or closet or garage. Take the moment to breathe and to feel.

2) Direction. Think about your priorities or what you want to make a priority. Switch things around on your to-do list so your schedule isn’t so tight or packed. Know why you agreed to do the things on that list. Be mindful of how much and what you add to the list.

3) Drama-free. Say no. Especially if your plate is full. Even if your plate is (for the moment) half-full, you can still say no to a request if it will add stress to your life.

4) Delight. Do things that bring peace and joy to your everyday. Eat healthy and eat yummy. Sleep more. Take advantage of sunny days. Connect with people. Pray often. Give thanks.

5) Dream. If you feel stuck, unproductive, overwhelmed and stressed out, start dreaming. Give yourself permission to think outside the box. Take some chances, make plans, and look forward to living out your dreams.

If you’ve ever taken a plane somewhere, I’m sure you’ve heard the safety spiel they give you before you take off. I love the oxygen mask part of the presentation, not because I ever want to be in a situation where I’ll need to use one, but because of the self-care reminder it provides.

Image courtesy of Barry Schwartz/https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustybrick/5243973465

Image courtesy of Barry Schwartz/https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustybrick/5243973465

Always put on your oxygen mask first before you help others with theirs. That’s also how it is with life. We can only help others when we ourselves are healthy. So let’s start taking care of ourselves.

Speaking of flying, here’s a totally creative and fun video hubby saw on one of his business trips. Yup, it mentions oxygen masks. 😉

What do you do for self-care?