I look at all the women in my life and I wonder where we’re going wrong. The subject of stress and burnout is common, especially during those first few months of parenthood or when there’s a sick or disabled family member that needs looking after. The advice is always the same- look after yourself. You’re no good to them if you aren’t coping. You need to take time to rest and recharge.
I don’t think I’ve seen a single time that advice has been taken. It’s acknowledged as a universal truth- that you are better able to look after others when you look after yourself- but it’s one that’s so rarely acted upon. When you’re sleep deprived, stressed out and loaded with a to-do list longer than your arm, ‘taking time out’ can almost seem like no more than an unwanted, unmanageable chore.
We need to reframe our thinking. It’s not a chore. It’s not even a choice. It’s a necessity. It’s like putting fuel in your car, it might take you a few minutes longer to get to work but it’s much, much quicker than running out of petrol half way there. We need to refuel ourselves in whatever way we can, as often as we can to ensure we can function at one hundred percent. These tips will show you how to do it without guilt or resentment.
Make it a priority
Really look at your list of things you do and see what can drop off. If you started your day 15 minutes later every day, would that really mess everything up? No? Then make the very first minutes of the day yours. Do something that invigorates you, whether it’s a green tea on the balcony, a quick yoga session or just the time to paint your nails for the first time in years. You don’t have to do the same thing every day, just make sure you do it. You might have to get up a little earlier, or set some things up so you don’t get interrupted but make it happen whatever it takes. If it’s the first thing you do, there’s less chance of forgetting or running out of time.
Find it where you can
Women are expert multi-taskers, often juggling many things at once. What if we didn’t? What if your morning train trip was spent in silent meditation or reading a great book instead of scheduling doctors appointments and checking email? What if we stopped checking Facebook when we’re sitting down and closed our eyes for a moment of consciousness instead? Me time doesn’t have to be large chunks of wild abandon, it can be as simple as a moment of reflection.
Ask for help
This is another universally acknowledged and often ignored piece of advice. If you can’t stomach the thought of asking someone to babysit just so you get a break, make it a mutually beneficial swap. Do a babysitting trade so you both get to go out every now and then. Take your in-laws dinner and leave the kids there for an hour or two. Also, remind yourself that there may be a time when you really need to leave the person you’re looking after- you might be injured, sick, or have to attend to another emergency. Getting your kids (or your mum!) looked after by someone else every now and then familiarizes them with being looked after by others and means it’ll be less of a shock if it happens in an emergency situation.
Remind yourself why you’re doing it
That emergency situation I mentioned above? The chances of it happening are vastly increased if you’re driving tired, run down and constantly sick, or stressed to the point of breakdown. The people around you, even the ones you don’t think will notice, can tell. If you’re happy and rested, you’ll be able to give of yourself more deeply and without resentment. Take care of them… by taking care of yourself.
Written by Amy Hopkins
Like Us? Sign Up!
Subscribe to get the latest budget buzz via email.