By Kelly Olson
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
In our busy lives, it's easy to let our own needs fall to the bottom of the to-do list. But not taking time for rest and restoration has consequences. It can lead to sleep loss, changes in weight, and irritability, and affect your mental health.
Think of yourself as the first responder for the people in your life – your children, partner, colleagues, friends. Would you want a first responder helping you who was stressed out or exhausted? When you make time for yourself, you can be your best self for the people around you.
First, you need to figure out what kind of activity rejuvenates you. For some people, that might be getting a massage or getting their nails done. Others may prefer hiking or exercising. Maybe it's knitting, reading a book, or baking.
Then it's a matter of finding time for you. Aim for 20 minutes each day. Perhaps it's during your lunch break, your child's naptime, or at bedtime. Can you create more time in your day by waking earlier, or putting the kids to bed earlier?
Partners can help each other find rejuvenating time by picking up the slack while the other takes a break. Friends or neighbors could trade off childcare duties to give each other that time.
Prioritize your activities, be flexible, and be kind to yourself. The dishes or dusting can wait until after "me time." Set goals for rejuvenation, such as getting a massage every six weeks or reading one book a month. Don't over-commit yourself with volunteer roles. Schedule date nights, girls nights out or other personal time, and don't talk yourself out of those "appointments."
You're going to be a better you when you take care of yourself.