Isn’t it funny how we can know something to be true but be completely unable to put it into action? I lived in the country for a number of years and when I returned to the city I needed to find myself a new doctor. I was recommended a particular lady and next time I needed a doctor, I went to see her. She was fine as a doctor, I had no complaints. However, one thing that really bemused me was the fact that she had all of her certificates proudly display upon her office wall and one of them announced that she was a qualified nutritionist. Nothing strange there. What was unfortunate about it was that she herself was an extremely large lady. I have often wondered how much luck she had convincing her patients to change their lifestyles for the better when she was unable to do so herself. She knew what to do and had the qualifications to prove it but was clearly unable to act upon that information.
How often do we find ourselves in a similar situation? We understand that in order to be able to fulfil all of the various roles in our lives as mothers, wives, daughters, friends, employees, we need to take care of ourselves. We realise that if we neglect our health then we are unable to care for others around us and do what we need to do. I don’t think there would be many mothers out there who do not know how important it is to look after their own health in order to best care for their family. I also believe that there are many who consistently put themselves last in the long list of people who need attention. We know that we should take care of ourselves but for whatever reason, we fail to do so.
I have a friend who is the most compassionate person I know. She is the one who comes running whenever anyone needs help. She will spend hours driving the elderly to their appointments, she will sit by a hospital bed all weekend, she will stay late at work to help a colleague through a difficult time. I think you can guess what I am going to tell you next. She will also catch every bug going around, take a long time to recover from illness and feel guilty about being unable to keep up with all of her responsibilities during her long recovery. She knows that she needs to take care of herself but when she is in the middle of it all, she just can’t make the changes that need to be made.
Let’s have a look at the things we need to do for ourselves in order to be able to best care for those around us.
We need to make time to exercise
There are many benefits to including a little exercise in your day. One of the best in my opinion in that when we exercise the body releases endorphins (feel good chemicals). Just a little bit of exercise to get the blood pumping in the morning will make it seem so much easier to tackle whatever the day throws your way.
We need to make time to eat healthy food
Our bodies need the right nutrients in order to function at their full capacity. I believe in everything in moderation so I’m not telling you not to eat your cake, but don’t have cake everyday and try to squeeze a good amount of fruit and vegetables into your diet. You will have more energy and greater capacity to do what you need to do.
We need to make time for relaxation
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! This is so true. How often have you tried to power through and finish something late at night only to find that you can’t think straight? You end up spending hours trying to do something that would be easy if you were well rested. Our bodies are not designed to be running on full throttle 24 hours a day. We also can’t go from full-on to asleep without some downtime in between. It’s not self indulgence to take time to recharge your batteries, it’s important and necessary so you can function properly.
We need to make time to indulge in our hobbies/personal interests
When we give up those things that are important to us, we can end up feeling resentful and unhappy. When someone gives all of their time and energy to another person, the potential for caregiver burnout is very real. It is important to make time to do something just for you. We also send a good message to others when we make time to do things that are important to us. We teach our children the importance of personal interests and self care.
In our extremely busy schedules it can be difficult to get through all of the things that need to be done. To help you in this situation, I have created a time audit. It lets you work out all of the times of the day that you are occupied doing important tasks and allows you to see where you might be able to make some changes to your routine. I find that often it is necessary to schedule in the time to care for myself otherwise it gets put into the ‘when I have time’ basket and I never actually get to it. Do that until you have established a nice routine for yourself and your family.