Do you ever pause to ask: How much care am I devoting to myself?
Being good to yourself is the key to taking care of all your relationships, as well as your daily responsibilities.
Neglecting yourself means you’re depleting your own emotional bank account. You’ll feel tired, distracted and depressed.
Filling up your emotional bank account means paying attention. You’ll have to figure out what you need in your life to feel nurtured and empowered. No one else can make those assessments for you.
All of us have certain routines and activities that calm us, build us up, and help us feel we matter. Here’s how you can define what feels good to you:
• Decide which people make you feel safe. Connect with them often. These are people that show interest in your health, financial stability, and physical well-being. They do small things to make you feel nurtured, such as asking you out to lunch or giving you gifts.
• Name what makes your body feel nurtured. Is it a workout or a soak in the tub? Honoring your body will make you feel healthy and whole. Going for weeks with no exercise and living on junk food will drain you emotionally.
• List activities that feed your mind. Engage in daily rituals that help you relax and feel calm. This might include watching old reruns of “Bonanza” or “Happy Days.” Or, do you enjoy attending stage plays?
“I am a fairly healthy 40-year-old who stays in a dead run,” says a friend of ours. “The problem is, my husband’s family and my relatives always have these chores for me. They are using me for every errand, using me to run their kids around, and even asking me to go to doctors’ appointments with them. I can tell I’m going downhill mentally and in my spirit. I dread picking up the phone or reading a text!”
Any individual must learn to say no. This takes practice and some new “inventive” tricks. For example, you can wait a few hours to return a phone call. You can use a personal errand as an excuse not to help someone else. A deadline can be pushed back a little, unless it’s a medical emergency.
“I found out that creating some breathing space won’t kill anybody,” says a young dad. He got into a tailspin emotionally when he took a new job.Then his wife pointed out his sadness.
“She told me about a year ago that I never smiled anymore,” he says. “She used the word ‘joyless’ to describe me. That’s when I realized that something had to change. Nowadays, I keep a calendar just to pencil in some fun things for myself. I sneak off to a movie or a ballgame, or I take a long walk.”
— Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen, Tribune News Service