Written by: Lindsay Waxler, LGSW
For many of us, life has become a competition of who can work harder, earn more, parent more vigilantly, and achieve as much as possible from one day to the next. We run from work to soccer practice and back home to prepare a rushed dinner that is hastily eaten, only to look up and wonder why we feel so tired all the time. Then we wake up the next day and the cycle begins again. The adage of burning the candle at both ends has become an actual lifestyle that leaves us feeling empty and exhausted. Why is it so hard for us to carve time out of our busy routine to engage in the simple practice of self-care?
Self-care is an act of self-love. When we neglect ourselves, our physical and mental health
suffers, and our ability to find joy is depleted. Research shows that chronic stress leads to a
weakened immune system, making sickness more likely. Compromised mental health is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. But even knowing this, some of us still feel selfish when engaging in self-care. Without something tangible to show, our time spent caring for ourselves isn’t validated by others and we return to the daily chaos of accomplishments.
The quagmire of this cycle is that we sacrifice our happiness to keep it running smoother and faster. To break this cycle, we must first learn that it is ok to say no to some of the things that have become expected of us. By agreeing to every request, we give and give from our mental, emotional, and physical ‘cup’ without taking the time to replenish it. We do this of course because we love our families and friends and don’t want to disappoint anyone. But consider for a moment that by loving and caring for yourself (as much as you care for others), you alter your very existence by nurturing your ability to find joy. I challenge you to say no to some of the tasks you’ve imposed on yourself and use that time to refill your physical, mental, and emotional cup. Some of the easiest ways to do this:
Find ‘mindful moments’ in the chaos to exercise self-care. Breathe deeply, walk slower, and approach your OWN physical, mental, and emotional health with as much love as you give to the people around you.