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Self-care When Life Is Hectic

Clients tell me how they used to take better care of themselves through exercise, meditation, yoga or some centering activity that brought them in touch with their mind/body. The way they tell it is that they enjoyed and benefited from the practice until life became so hectic that they “had” to give it up. Here’s another take on their story.

It’s understandable that you might need to temporarily give up this kind of self-care if you need to work to eat or have shelter, in brief periods when you must provide critical care to someone, or during some major time-limited life upheaval. But aside from these situations, it’s reasonable to take good care of yourself on an ongoing basis.

Ever wonder why, when life gets busy, self-care is one of the first things to go rather than some less essential activity? The answer is that you convince yourself you’re so needed at work/church/school/in the community/by your family that it’s impossible to continue taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. Instead of refusing commitments or dropping activities in order to nurture yourself and have time for relaxation and reflection—the logical thing to do!—you engage in commitments which take you outside yourself and push you to (or over) the edge of exhaustion.

Self-care may or may not come naturally to you. It’s a choice for all of us, just as staying busy and being harried is a choice. You don’t have to stay that busy. Bustling about filling every moment with movement is not a natural phenomenon, but is created by an inability to say no, set priorities, feel deserving, and tolerate internal stillness. Rather than running to something, it’s more about running from something—you!

How did you set up your life to be hectic? If you used to engage in relaxation and solid self-care practices, how and why did you let them go? Did you tell yourself you stopped because you didn’t have the time? When you look back, what else could you have given up to make space for self-care? More to the point, what could you give up now to nourish yourself in a way that fosters extreme self-care?

Consider what you can let go of to create more time for yourself, who can take over your duties or responsibilities, what you don’t have to do, who you can do less for so that you can do more for yourself. Even now, you may be telling yourself that you can’t possibly give up this or that. This is an untruth. You can and you must if you want to provide yourself with proper self-care. No one else will do it for you. It’s up to you.