Welcome to Self-Care Month! We’re proud to present our readers with our first Saturday guest blogger, Sherry Duson, MA. Sherry holds Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist licenses in Texas and she’s also a State of Texas board-certified clinical Supervisor for both licenses. She’s about to expand her practice to include The Center for Postpartum Family Health. You can read more about Sherry at SherryDuson.com or on Facebook.
Do you ever find yourself running through your day at a pace that leaves you exhausted? Are you frantically trying to cram in more errands or mark one more item off of your to-do list, only to find it leaves you depleted and spent? For most women, our relationship with “time” is a complicated one. This leads me to an item of self-care which I believe is not discussed often enough, which is our conscious use of TIME. Perhaps it is a remnant of the deeply embedded American work ethic, but many of us corrupt the quality of our days by taking on more to do than is realistic, and then carry a mantra of negative self-talk about not getting enough done. This year might be a good time to re-think your relationship with time, and make the adjustments necessary to help you feel that you run your day instead of it running you.
I would challenge you to find a pace which is realistic for YOUR UNIQUE SELF, based on an honest assessment of your energy and stamina and a conscious decision to adjust accordingly. If you have no idea of how much is too much, you may need to start with a little self-discovery. Begin by taking inventory of your well-being throughout the day. Take a break every two hours and take a quick check of how you are feeling in that moment. Just give yourself a number on a scale of 1-10. Notice how it changes throughout the day. If you start your day at a high number and then it deteriorates throughout the day, ask yourself why. The answer is often some sort of self-judgment about your perceived lack of accomplishments.
Once you know a bit more about how you feel during your day, consider the tasks you lay out before you. Are you asking yourself to conduct your day with a sense of nurture and self-preservation? Or is guilt driving your choices, making you feel badly about every lack of accomplishment? One way to figure this out is to ask yourself what you would say to a good friend if you saw her going through her day at a frantic, maybe even damaging pace. If you really loved your friend, you might say something like, “Wow, you are really hard on yourself! Why don’t you slow down and relax? You don’t have to do it all today. I am concerned about you, and I don’t like seeing you so stressed out!” Now, consider being your own best friend. Cultivate that feeling of love and nurturing towards yourself. Chances are if you can do that, you will be more forgiving and less judgmental about what you do or don’t accomplish.
Finally, ask yourself how you would like to feel at the end of your day. Do you want to be able to have a little patience and reserve left over for your family and loved ones? If so, it may require altering your day, so that you can do just that. Connection with others requires some energy and patience. If you have run yourself ragged all day, chances are nothing will be left over for those you care most about. Make the adjustments necessary to be your “best” self with those who matter most to you.
In closing, I remind us all that an important feature of self-care is to take responsibility of those aspects of our daily lives that we have control over. Your schedule is probably one of those things Sometimes the reason we over-extend ourselves with commitments and appointments is because we are afraid to ask for help, or can’t admit we are doing too much. Once we set a realistic expectation for our day based on what we know of our personal energy capacity, we need to work to quiet any guilty feelings which accompany it, and tell ourselves that it is okay. Perfection is not the goal. Going through the day using a pace that works for us and those we love is a goal worth pursuing!