“It’s okay to take time for yourself. We give so much of ourselves to others, and we need to be fueled both physically and mentally. If we are in balance, it helps us in all our interactions.” — Faith Hill
This summer, I have been taking things a little easier on myself. As you may or may not have noticed, I have not been active on professional platforms like LinkedIn, social media or my blog like I normally am. I have not traveled like I tend to during the summer. I have scheduled less things for myself…I have intentionally tried to clear and simplify my schedule. This summer, more than ever, I was reminded of the need to sloooooow down and I have a sneaky suspicion that I am not the only one needing this reminder.
Like many of my readers, I wear multiple hats. Between my work, home and church responsibilities, sleep and self-care often gets pushed down on my priority list. Because I have my own practice, I have found it hard to stay within a 9-5 schedule; I care about each of my unique clients, and when I am not in session, I am often researching ways I can further help them and preparing for upcoming sessions. It is easy to fill my schedule with work-related tasks because I honestly love what I do. Then, on top of my professional commitments, I volunteer weekly in my church and serve as the public affair liaison between my church and my community. Plus, I am a dog mom to a senior dog and a homeowner. With what little bandwidth I have leftover, I connect with friends and colleagues, strive to exercise and prepare balanced meals, and try to keep up with my laundry. And for those with children, that includes an additional closet of hats to wear!
Somewhere in the middle of all of that running (literally!), I was compelled to slow down. It became obvious that I could not continue as I was and that something had to give. I will spare the gritty details, but I imagine many of my readers will relate. Sometimes the body or brain (or both!) simply cannot carry it all. It’s not that we are weak, it’s that we have pushed ourselves beyond human ability. We are not superhuman, nor do we need to strive to be! When I was compelled to slow down a few months ago, I realized I had waited too long and I needed to pause and heal from the inside out.
Do not be like me. Let’s not run ourselves ragged until we are compelled to simplify.
This–today, now!– is the perfect time to take inventory–school is starting and extracurriculars will soon be in full force, which means mothers, fathers, and caretakers alike will be overscheduled and overbooked. So what can we and I do NOW to slow down, to simplify, to make space for our own needs before it becomes emergent?
Let’s back up and consider this summer. Here are a couple of questions to consider as we move forward with this personal reflection:
- What did we do this summer to take care of ourselves?
- How much of those activities could carry into the future as a way (or ways) to take care of ourselves on a regular/recurring basis?
- While we have been busy this summer, what did we wish we could do for ourselves but never had the time for? How can we make time for that activity now?
- What are things we know we need to do for our mental/physical health that we have been putting off?
- How can we simplify or be more efficient with our upcoming responsibilities?
- Whom can we ask for help?
- How can we delegate?
- How will we know when we are overdoing it? What are the warning signs we can and should be aware of?
Sometimes we need to slow down and/or simplify for our own wellbeing. It is normal and good. I find that I feel refreshed and more rejuvenated after having taken some time and space for myself. This is not to say that I have not felt guilty and even lazy at times over the last few months! However, I knew it was what I needed, and I gave myself that space. I am thanking myself and can guarantee that all of us will thank ourselves down the road as well.
So let’s give ourselves some compassion. We can look for ways we can simplify, slow down, delegate, and be more efficient as we move into the busyness that comes with fall scheduling. Make room for our own needs as we consider everyone else’s. And let’s definitely go easy on ourselves. No one person can do it all, so let’s not hurt ourselves by trying to be superhuman!
Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.
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