Unfortunately, so many people do feel guilty for taking time out for themselves. However, it’s a false economy. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘You can’t drink from an empty cup’, and it’s so true.
When I ask clients who are near burnout, what amount of time they take during a typical week just for themselves, frequently, they’re horrified.
‘I don’t have time for me!’ is the usual response.
What many people fail to realise is, taking time out of your busy week to do something you love, like yoga, running, cycling, mindfulness, meditation or some other hobby which allows you to immerse yourself completely, makes a massive difference not only to your mood but to your general productivity, wellbeing and resilience.
When you feel happier and less stressed, you have so much more to give. Your mind will be sharper, your thinking clearer and your ability to deal with everyday stressors will increase.
When clients come to me because they are experiencing overwhelm, excessive stress and anxiety, a non-negotiable part of their homework is to schedule time each week to do something that they enjoy.
On the surface, it seems a simple enough task; however, the initial resistance is often incredible. Somehow, they’ve convinced themselves that taking time out to do something for themselves:
1. Is completely selfish
2. Means they will get judged harshly
3. Is a waste of valuable time
Initially, I encourage them to take some form of exercise (something they enjoy, otherwise, they won’t do it), at least 20 minutes, three times a week. When we exercise, we burn off the hormones released when we trigger the stress response (including cortisol and adrenaline, which, when built up over time, can compromise our immune system). We also release ‘feel-good’ biochemicals such as endorphins (the happy hormone) and dopamine (helping us feel calmer and sleep better).
In addition, when we make changes to our regular routine, whether that’s through exercise or by doing a hobby, it forces our brain out of autopilot (up to 95% of our thoughts each day are the same as the day before) and enables us to differently; giving us a break from our problems.
The very best types of activities are the ones that you enjoy so much that you don’t notice how much time has passed. That’s called ‘being in flow’. When we’re in flow, everything else (our problems, and stresses, etc.) fade away as we get thoroughly immersed in the task at hand.
We can’t think of two things at once. Therefore, when we place our focus on something other then what’s bothering us, it gives our subconscious mind a break. When we finally come out of the ‘flow state’ and back to ‘reality’, our mind will have had time to refocus, and we often find that we are clearer, less stressed and more in control of our thoughts and emotions.
When you give your brain this break, you may also find that answers to problems come more freely; that’s because you’ve given your subconscious mind space to be more creative. Often our best ideas come when we aren’t thinking about them.
I recommend diarising your ‘self-care’ time as you would any other important meeting. Make it immoveable. You owe it to yourself AND those around you to be at your peak performance levels, and you can’t if you avoid prioritising time for you.
What self-care activities have you been putting off because you don’t believe you have time or because you think it’s selfish to want to do something for you?
What will you do TODAY, to start redressing the balance?
For more simple tools and techniques specifically designed to help you build and maintain your resilience, click here to check out my online course.