Ever just feel you do not have anything left to give? How do you care for you?
If you are anything like me, some days you may seem to just run out of steam. While you want to help the people around you and serve at the highest possible level, you may neglect your own needs.
It may feel like a struggle to offer care to another when your tank runs low. Scheduling self-care time and keeping commitments to myself has taken time for me to learn. Doing so makes all the difference.
When your care tank seems to be running low, consider these seven steps to self-care:
1) Check in on Your Feelings and Needs. Ask yourself, “what I am feeling right now?” Your feelings tell you whether or not your needs are being met. If you feel negative or discontent, one of your needs is not being met. Ask yourself, “what do I need?” (Click here to view the feelings and needs lists.)
3) Create Choices. Lots of options exist to meet any given need. Take some time to think what lights you up or really truly meets the need for you. Take a few moments to write them. Comfort may involve calling a friend, taking a stroll in the park, taking a nap, binging on old episodes of Friends or visiting a neighbor. The list may go on and on. Think of a few ideas that resonate with you.
4) Consider Impact. The way you choose to meet a need has short and long-term impacts for you, and sometimes for those around you. Ask yourself, will this choice really meet my need? Will I be comfortable with this choice next week, next month, or next year? (i.e, My choice to comfort myself with a bag of doritos today may impact my waistline tomorrow.)
5) Choose from Your Vision. Successful people make decisions quickly and evaluate those decisions. Making choices quickly happens more easily with a long-term vision in mind. When you know your vision for health, relationships, and vocation for three years from now helps you quickly discern if your choice aligns with that vision. Choosing once does not mean that you must make the same choice next time. While something from the list of options may meet your needs today, it may not five years from now.
6) Calendar it. In some instances you may meet our needs as they arise. Other times, acknowledge it and then schedule a specific time very soon on the calendar to meet it. Ideally, you have some time each day to meet needs for rest, food, connection, and chunks of time each week for play, creativity, more in-depth connection scheduled. Self-care is not one and done. It involves both a short-term and long-term commitment. (I like to make a list of everything that needs to happen during the week and plug it all into the calendar on Sunday evening. My time for me goes in there too.)
7) Commit. Be on time and fully present for yourself during the time you schedule for you. If you find it a challenge to keep commitments, it may be a sign that you have too many things on your calendar. (Go back to one and determine priorities.) Honoring appointments with and for yourself demonstrates self-respect and builds self-trust. In doing so, you will also be best prepared to offer others compassion.
Offering someone compassion becomes easier and more natural when your needs are met. Acknowledging and honoring your needs demonstrates a priority for self-care that others may choose to respect or emulate. Sometimes, the decision for self-care may feel uncomfortable and may disappoint others.
Choosing to disappoint yourself rather than someone else takes a toll. You may simply tell someone you have an appointment, or you may share the details of your self-care appointment. Be mindful.
Moments may arise when you feel you must tend to another first. (Doing so may meet a need itself.) If you feel you must reschedule your “you” time, reschedule it for as soon as possible, and no more than twice. The third time it becomes your most important appointment and a dire need to meet.
Sign up for on-line class or schedule a training for your business, group, or organization for more help and support.
Keep going. Self-care may take time and practice. A part of me still ignores time commitments to myself, yet I just keep getting a little better at it. You will too.
Caring for you helps you be your best you. The people around you will notice, and maybe even start caring for themselves more.
Care begins with self-care.