Dr Bev Smallwood

Articles Library: Coping

Taking Time For Yourself Isn't Selfish

How often do you wish for more than 24 hours in a day (probably so that more demands on your time can be squeezed in)? Finding time for yourself is more than challenging when you’re working hard to fulfill the needs and expectations of others...your employer, those you love, and those you don’t love so much!

Yet, finding and taking time for yourself is a critical part of being emotionally healthy. Studies show that people who are overworked and burned out are less productive, provide poorer customer service, and become generally emotionally exhausted. When you do things to keep up your morale and your energy, you save time in the long run. In any profession, you cannot afford to be at less than your personal best.

Here are some tips that may be helpful:

1. Give yourself permission to take care of you as well as others. Some have “mental rules” that suggest that making time for yourself is selfish. Not so. When you are at your best, you can be more open and attuned to the needs of others. Everybody profits when you make taking care of yourself a priority.

2. Identify a menu of things that both relax and energize you. These could be things like a massage; a long, hot bath; exercising; creative projects; fun activities with family or friends.

3. Schedule time for yourself. Make an appointment that’s as firm as an appointment you’d make with a client or a loved one that you want to please. “Book” things from your list of activities several times a week.

4. Schedule “mini-vacations” throughout the day. Several times a day, take a minute or two to close your eyes, do some deep breathing, and visualize relaxing scenes. (Hint: Get in the habit of doing this each time you go to the bathroom! It’s private time that can be a cue to remind you to de-stress.) Research has also shown that “power naps” (no more than 15-20 minutes) feel like a night’s sleep and energize you for several hours.

5. Keep your life in balance. If you spend so many hours on any one area of your life (work or otherwise) that you neglect other things that are important to you, you’ll begin to feel guilty. Others will begin to complain or show signs of neglect, which will add to your stress and decrease your effectiveness. Plan for quality time with those who are important to you. Take care of yourself physically by eating nutritionally, exercising, and sleeping well. Don’t neglect your spiritual life, which can keep you in touch with “why” of all the things you do.

If meeting the needs of others is important to you, that’s even more reason to keep yourself healthy. It’s hard to show love when you’re feeling irritable, burned-out, and fatigued. Take the time to relax, to refocus, and to renew your energy. You and everyone around you will profit from it.

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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