Social media and society in general would like us to believe that we have to be productive and multitasking 24/7. We take pride in being suffocatingly busy all the time. We cram our schedules full with activities and responsibilities. We feel guilty about taking 10 minutes of personal time away from spouse/kids/coworkers etc. We ignore our own stress and fatigue so that we can keep going. We tell ourselves that we’re lazy or selfish if we slow down or if we take care of ourselves first.
Here’s the problem with that. Your brain and your body need rest. They cannot function indefinitely without it. And rest does not just mean sleep, it also means play-time. You need time doing the things that you find fun, relaxing, and rewarding. This is when your mind and body are recharging themselves. This is when you are truly recovering from the stress and demands of the rest of your life. This is what makes you better equipped to deal with those demands. This is what taking care of yourself looks like.
You can run your engine on overdrive without stopping to rest for a while, but not forever. Eventually the consequences will catch up with you. When you don’t stop to recover, you are functioning in survival mode. Your body is churning out cortisol and adrenaline because it thinks you’re dealing with an emergency. If the emergency never ends, you will suffer the consequences. Some of those consequences can be permanently debilitating. Some can be fatal.
If you truly want to give of yourself to those you care about, it starts with caring for yourself. Like they tell you before every flight, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help anyone else. Your family and your coworkers are not served by you stressing yourself into a chronic disease (or a sudden heart attack!). You want to be around for them as long as you can, so start making your own self-care a non-negotiable priority. I hereby give you permission to take time for yourself every day, without feeling guilty about it.