“The most important advice I can offer you is to schedule your worries. Figure out when you absolutely have to worry about something and let it go until that time,” said my new manager as she attempted to comfort me through an emotional breakdown in her office.
I had a 3-year-old at home, a new husband and a new job. And every aspect of my life seemed to be failing. Being successful meant perfection in all areas of my life. Taking care of my family and excelling in my career left no room to think about my own wellness.
When everything came crashing down on me that morning in my manager’s office, her advice was exactly what I needed to hear.
However, it would take me a few years to truly understand the depth of what she was telling me. My definition of successful had to be re-evaluated and priorities shifted. And I had to make a lot of lifestyle changes along the way.
Understanding that being busy does not always mean I’m successful was a huge challenge to overcome. If I am burning out in the process, I’ve failed myself.
According to a study, 95% of human resource leaders say that employee burnout is sabotaging their workforce.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis maintain and enhance our short- and long-term well-being.
Now, with a larger family and a professional career to balance, this practice has become a regular routine that I lean on to avoid getting burned out.
A few simple ways to get started are:
- Food: Start paying attention to how food makes you feel with a mindful eating practice.
- Sleep: Make sleeping a priority. If you need 8 full hours of sleep, make yourself unavailable during this time.
- Meditation: Unplug for at least 20 minutes daily for a meditation practice that works for you.
When you practice Extreme Self-Care there will be fallout. In fact, you may lose some relationships that you thought were important to you.
This is bound to happen, because if you tend to over-give, you’ve trained those in your life to expect it and they’ll question you once you stop. Remember that by making your needs a priority, you’re also changing the rules.
Here’s some of my self- care practices:
Checklists and Planners
It only takes about ten or twelve minutes for you to prioritize tasks by planning out your day and create a to-do list. This small investment of time will save you at least two hours (100-120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort throughout the day.
Every evening, I make a checklist for the things I need to do the following day. In the morning, I review the list to decide which 3 items have the most impact on my goals. Those will be the things I focus on that day.
Anything else will be done if the top 3 are completed early. If something can be delegated or outsourced, I will move that from my list that evening when the next list is started for the following day.
Anchoring myself in the present moment has been life-changing. Having a meditation practice helps with being able to hear what my inner voice is saying. Having a lot of noise or busy behavior in life, it’s easier to ignore intuition.
Also, games such as You Feel Like S*** that help with slowing down and paying attention are great ways to begin practicing more self-care.
At least once a week, I unplug to recharge myself. Disconnecting from my phone, computers, television and any other energy-snatching device helps remove distractions.
Before practicing this, I noticed negativity had way more weight in my life than positive factors in my life. Instead of spending more time focusing on the people who love and support me, I was wasting energy on those who disliked me or saw me as a threat in their imaginary life competition.
Now, having the disconnected time has made me realize how positive aspects such as nature and gratitude matter so much more than anything negative that might arise. Unplugging helps put space in between the noise of the world by allowing more focus on how many real positive things there are in my life that deserve more of my attention.
A few benefits of practicing self-care are:
- Helps you identify and manage the general challenges
- You can start being aware of your own personal vulnerabilities
- Start to achieve more balance in your life
Are you successful or busy? After a decade of lifestyle adjustments, I now pay attention to how I feel and know when it’s time to shift focus.
By paying attention to the signs, a lot of self-depleting events are avoided because I no longer focus on being perfect in all areas. My focus is to be the best version of myself no matter how that might compare against anyone else’s expectations.
Crystal Gibson is a wife and mother of two from Cleveland, Ohio whose interest in women’s empowerment comes from her personal experiences, raising her daughter and navigating corporate America for over a decade. She is passionate about simple living, mindfulness & meditation, gratitude, and raising strong daughters. Her goal is to write about these ideas to help women and girls with their journey – figuring out who they are and what they represent to the world. When she is not writing, she can be found gardening, crafting and spending time with her family.