The alarm goes off in the morning and you are so tired you can barely lift your arm to hit the snooze button. You drag yourself out of the bed with barely enough time to look at yourself in the mirror and head into the kitchen to throw some semblance of a breakfast together for your family. Just as you’ve begun to accept that you are awake and must go on about your day, your kids start arguing, and your spouse becomes angry over bills you forgot to pay yesterday. You attempt to remain calm through the chaos by zoning out. All you want to do is get to work on time for once and have a moment at your desk to breathe where no one is asking something of you. You make it to work, sit down at your desk and just as you begin to breathe that sigh of relief your phone rings and it’s your mother calling to tell you that she needs you to take her to a doctor’s appointment today. There goes the one chance you had this week to make it to your favorite class at the gym. Your day has barely begun and you have already spent the majority of it catering to everyone else. You know you’ve neglected your self-care.
Sound familiar? Most of us love our families and would do anything for their happiness. But all too often we become so busy worrying about others that we forget to take care of ourselves. When was the last time you were able to make it to the gym class that you love, take an uninterrupted bubble bath, read that book that you were so excited to buy but now serves as a stand for your bedside lamp?
Often I hear clients telling me that they couldn’t possibly carve time out of their day to devote to themselves. They say there isn’t enough time in the day and that they would feel guilty for taking time away from the family. At this point I ask them if they feel they are being the best mother/father/family member that they can be. They usually respond saying, “Yes, for the most part.” I then ask them to tell me about the other parts (i.e., the times they do not feel proud of). Often they will say, “Well, I don’t have as much patience as I would like and sometimes I am too tired to really listen when my spouse/kids tell me about their day.”
Fatigue, irritability, poor immune system, and mental “fogginess” can all be possible indications of “burnout.” By taking some time to ourselves we give our body the break it needs in order to recharge. By recharging we are ensuring that we will return to our family/friends/loved ones with the energy and patience that are important to healthy, happy relationships. Everyone, including children, benefit from personal time. So if you are worried about spending time away from your family, then schedule time where everyone is allowed an hour of alone time to do an activity that they enjoy. This will not only allow you the space you need to recharge but will teach your children the importance of self-care. So, go ahead, start now. You have nothing to feel guilty about. The happier you are, the more happiness you have to give. What would you like to give your family today?