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The Balancing Act: Taking Care of Others and Self

Ever feel like there isn’t enough time in the day for yourself and the millions of other responsibilities you have? Society expects you to go to work, eat clean, exercise, cook dinner, take care of your family, spend time with friends, keep a clean home, have five streams of income, AND get eight hours of sleep? Yeah, sounds unattainable and not sustainable to me too.  I’ve experienced and seen the effects of poorly trying to balance self-care and all my other responsibilities. It leads to burnout, poor relational boundaries, anxiety, depression, and not to mention stress which contributes to a host of health problems like high blood pressure or heart disease. As a caretaker, you’re probably thinking, “who’s going to do if I don’t?” That is a real and valid question. Some responsibilities are ours and ours alone, like raising children or going to work. However, there are many that aren’t ours that we accept reluctantly. Let’s dive into how you can start making changes that bring more ease and less imbalance.

RELATED: Session 243: Establishing New Routines

Reframing your mindset 

For any tips and tricks to stick, we must first reframe our mindset or look at things a little differently. If you’re reading this blog, you might most likely be an “I want to do it, so I know it’s done right” person or perhaps an “I feel bad telling them no because I don’t want to disappoint them” person. Perhaps, you’re both. Either way, it’s important to come to terms that you do not and cannot do it all. For many people who “do it all,” they are falling short somehow. More times than not, their mental health is suffering, or their physical health is neglected.  To find the real balance between yourself and others, you must release yourself from the Superman/Superman/Super-person mindset. A more balanced outlook may look like “I can only do what I can, and that is enough.” 

Evaluating your life

While we’re discussing reframing our thoughts, this would be a good time to reflect on how you’re living and if there are any areas, which you can simplify or create more balance. 

Questions you may want to ask yourself:

  1. Am I overcommitting?
  2. Is this a task I can delegate to someone else?
  3. Do I have time to take care of my physical and mental health, if not, how can I prioritize them more?
  4. Is this my responsibility?
  5. What will give me more balance (more help, more time, etc.)?
  6. Do I need a planner and better time management?

Getting to the bottom of these questions will help you determine where you may need to add (more self-care) and subtract (less committing) things in your life. 

Scheduling “me time” 

If you can’t do anything, do this. Yes, put it on your calendar if need be. Sometimes we’re on autopilot and by the time we’ve realized we didn’t eat or have a sip of water –it’s 8 pm. Carve out time(s) throughout your day for a designated time for yourself. This can look like taking 30 minutes before your household wakes up to intentionally drink your coffee or being sure you take your full lunch break at work.  If needed, communicate with your partner, friends, or colleagues, and inform them about your allotted “me time”. This will be a sure way they can support you in taking that time to yourself and provide them with a heads-up that you would like to not be disturbed.

RELATED: Session 234: Friends, Family,& Finances

Giving what you have

If you’ve been on an airplane, the flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen masks on first before assisting others. Realistically, many of us would want to make sure our loved ones are prioritized first in that type of situation. However, there is a chance we may not be able to help if we ourselves run out of oxygen. This is a great metaphor for self-care and taking care of others. To take care of others, you must first take care of yourself. I know this may sound selfish but putting your mask on first ensures you are able to help others = not selfish at all.  You can’t help people get well if you are not well. You can try to give time and energy that you don’t have, but that may lead to your body fighting back and telling you what it needs (in a not-so-nice way). You can’t pour from an empty cup.