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Here we are at Day 13 of 14 Days of Learning to Love Your Life. We’ve explored ways to love many aspects of your life: your town, your house, your job, difficult people, your wardrobe, your appearance… Just to name a few. Today I want to help you learn to start showing YOURSELF a little love.
There seems to be some inherent trait within many women that compels us to think about and care for everyone around us, and always put our own needs and wants last. I can’t tell you how many times I have skipped a workout or a much-anticipated relaxing bath because I had a kiddo who needed a cuddle or a story. I often miss out on sleep. I hardly ever make time to read books on my to-read list. I am almost always caught up on laundry but rarely ever caught up on filing or general organization in my home office. I make a home-cooked dinner at least 6 nights a week, but I almost never eat a decent lunch.
The problem is that when we don’t take care of ourselves, we are not at our best to take care of our loved ones. And I think we know this in a rational sense, but in a realistic world it is just so hard for us to make the time to do things for ourselves.
I know that when I am sleep deprived, I am not at my best for my kids. I also know that when I don’t exercise regularly (which I haven’t in almost 2 years), I don’t feel great about myself and don’t have as much energy, and my loved ones feel the effects. I try to give them my best, but the thing is that my best when I’m not taking care of myself isn’t as good as my best when I am taking care of myself.
And I’m willing to bet the same is true for you.
So let’s spend today learning how we can take care of ourselves without feeling like we are taking away from how we take care of our loved ones.
Begin by thinking about what your needs and wants are. This is different for everyone. Some people need time for creativity while others need social interaction, and still others need alone time for relaxation. Maybe you need time for planning, or to be outdoors, or exercise.
Start a new page in your journal and write down what your needs are. Think about those that are being met and those that are not. How can you make small changes that can help you start meeting a few of your own needs and wants? Can you set aside a few minutes each day to dedicate to yourself? How about a few minutes a couple of times a week?
For me, Thursday evenings after my kids go to bed are dedicated to “me time”. My husband and his buddies have a guys’ night and it is the perfect time for the introvert in me to get some down time to recuperate and refresh. Sometimes I just lie on the couch and watch TV. Other times I read for a couple of hours straight, which feels just wonderful. Some weeks I give myself a at-home spa night where I draw a relaxing bath with Epsom salts, I give myself a pedicure, maybe deep-condition my hair and mud-mask my face. And sometimes I just go to bed extra early and catch up on sleep! The important thing is that I use this time for me. I don’t do housework, or laundry, or cook, or work. I have a standing commitment to myself to do something that is purely for my own benefit.
Write a plan in your journal. Writing it down better cements the commitment. If you just tell yourself mentally, it is easy to forget. Put it on your calendar or in your planner. Block out that time as “busy” so that you don’t accidentally double-book yourself. Let your loved ones know too, so that they are not surprised and so that they can help you stick to your plan.
This really is the most important part of beginning to love your own life. Including yourself in your priorities is crucial to being happy. Make time for you, and every other part of your life will get an improved version of you.