Posted by: coachingparents | August 21, 2007

How Are You Taking Care of Yourself?


“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

I hear you when you tell me you are busy.  I understand the long list of items on your to do list that never seem to be crossed off even in spite of your best effort.  I see the look of frustration on your face and feel your overwhelmed presence when you enter the room.  I know you have one last thing you have to do, but here is what I am going to ask you to do, in this present moment, if only for a minute.  I am going to ask you to stop, take a deep breath, and hear what is absolutely necessary for you to do in order to live a well balanced and healthy life. 

What are you doing for yourself each day?  How are you taking care of your own needs so you can meet the needs of the people in your life?  This question is the most important question you will ever ask yourself, because the reality of whatever you are experiencing is directly related to how little or how much time you spend taking care of your needs as they arise in each moment.  We have been taught as a society, to move at speeds that defy the laws of physics, much less logic in order to accomplish super human tasks each day.  We have passed this on to our children by way of over scheduling their every moment in an effort to keep up with the pace our society has created.  It not only causes exhaustion, anxiety, stress, and disconnected families, but it knocks us out of balance which interferes with every aspect of our lives. 

There is good news however, a silver lining to this dilemma.  The message is getting out about the importance of bringing oneself into balance in order to create peace and harmony in the outside world.  Nothing begins outside of ourselves; it starts from within and projects out into this big picture we call life.  So how can we manage adding one more thing into our hectic schedules?  How is it possible to find even one spare minute in our already jam-packed day to allow for personal time?  You have no choice, but to create it.  We make conscious choices in every moment when we decide to do something or not.  We have believed for far too long that pleasing everyone outside of ourselves and/ or our family is more important than honoring who we are or putting the needs of our family first. 

When I first started my web business over seven years ago, I remember the urge I had to answer each email as it came in which lead to the next one and then another until one day, I thought about it and became aware of my propensity to sit in front of the computer answering total stranger’s emails all day.  It became clear I had two choices to make.  I could choose to answer email from people I didn’t know or spend time with my family (or on myself) and save the email for another day.  The choice once presented in this way became evident.  If we were to sit down and look at our “to do” list and consciously decide what is an absolute necessity to be accomplished and what are the things we either over committed to or are putting undo pressure on ourselves to complete, we would find we have several minutes we could shave off and bank as time for ourselves. 

Here are some thoughts and/ or questions that may assist you in uncovering the truth about whether you are taking care of your needs or the needs of everyone around you.

  • If someone suggested you take a nice, relaxing bath, your response would be- I don’t have time to take a bath?
  • If someone recommends a really good book they recently read and suggested you read it, your response would be- I don’t have time to read?
  • Your spouse or partner suggests a night out, just the two of you, and your response is- I am too tired to go out, can we stay home instead?
  • It’s a weekend evening and there is a good movie on, you would prefer to- go to bed early?
  • You don’t have time to call your friends
  • You don’t have time to get your hair done; enjoy a spa treatment; shop
  • You don’t care about what you look like

Not taking care of you! 

Make it a priority to fit one or more of these suggestions into your daily/ weekly life.  Every time you do something for yourself, you fill your cup with more to give.  The more you do for you, the more you have to give and the time suddenly appears in ways you never realized was possible.  “Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today you can do it again tomorrow.” –James Michener

  • Get a pedicure or a manicure
  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Breath (yes, 10 deep breathes each hour will do wonders for every aspect of your life)
  • Spend time reading a book to your child
  • Read a book for your enjoyment
  • Take a bath (I cannot emphasize this one enough)
  • Plan a romantic meal for your significant other
  • Go out for dinner
  • Meet a friend for coffee or drinks
  • Watch your favorite T.V. program
  • Take a nap
  • Plant flowers
  • Sit outside and watch the birds or other wildlife
  • Go for a walk

Congratulations, you are taking care of you!

Life should never become too busy whereby you can’t take a few moments out to balance your inner self; for it is when we sit in silence we hear the answers.

©Tara Paterson 2007, All Rights Reserved

Tara is the Founder of and the owner.  She is happily married to her husband Chris and has two boys, 6 and 2. Tara has been seen in The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, the Loudoun Magazine, and on the Today Show, CNN, the Early Show and 48 Hours.

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