This past year has been tough for a lot of us for so many reasons.
At any given moment, life has presented us with a new challenge. Can we get past this day? Can we be strong enough for our kids? Continue to provide, keep making our household a safe place? Tough questions have been asked and (maybe) answered. We are juggling so much.
With so much going on, my own health and my own self-care took a backseat.
There were more important things taking up my headspace, taking up my time. My own well-being wasn’t even something I thought about until I reached a breaking point. The overwhelm felt like a deep hole I couldn’t get out of. My usually upbeat demeanor was nowhere to be found. I could still function, be there for my family, and provide, but all through a veil.
I was becoming numb.
Change finally came when I finally started therapy in the summer.
Just making the appointment felt like a huge relief. I was finally paying attention to myself and my own needs. My therapist and I met every two to four weeks. She helped me dig out of my hole and find my autonomy again. We concluded our sessions in the fall, but I’m definitely going back as soon as I start to get a tingle that things might be slipping away again.
One of my big realizations from this year was that I don’t ever put my needs first.
I always prioritize my family’s needs, sacrificing my own. I’m not asked to do this; I have support from my family and husband at home, but I myself decide to carry the weight of my family’s well being on my shoulders, without considering my own needs.
Slowly, with little changes, I put myself first. I started by just adapting the time I already had on hand, like meditating on my drive to work, adding a workout session every now and then, or taking ten minutes at night to work on my hobbies.
All these steps helped, but the real change was when I carved out time just for myself.
As the year winds down, work hours usually are more flexible. For a few days, my husband took the kids to daycare while I stayed behind, had breakfast, and drank my coffee hot. These fifteen minutes made a world of difference in my outlook on a daily basis. I realized that I needed that time alone. No distractions, just me and my thoughts.
So, I made it a daily routine.
I set my alarm one hour earlier than our usual wake up. Thirty minutes to get ready for the day and thirty minutes just for me. There are rules though: no distractions, no phone, no to-dos, no housework. Yes to things that relax and fulfill me. I don’t plan what I’ll be doing each day, but instead do whatever is calling me that morning.
I have a bag with a coloring book and markers, journals, self-help books, recreational reading–anything that relaxes me. Each morning, I grab my bag, sit down with a cup of hot coffee and just let myself be for thirty minutes.
It has helped me set the tone for the day. I truly enjoy this time and have no problem adjusting my bedtime to be able to accommodate this. This is my time and I cherish it. I don’t mind the early wake-up, because I gain so much from this time alone.
I know I’m not alone in feeling the overwhelm and putting myself at the end of the priority list.
I share this to inspire you to find what feeds your soul. Take the time each day and make yourself a priority. Reach out for help if needed. I challenge you to find those ten minutes in the day to give yourself one hundred percent of your attention.
There’s so much you are handling, there are so many directions you are being pulled to, there are so many hats you are wearing at the moment. But please, remember that you matter too.
Remember to love yourself. Remember that you are beautiful. Remember that you are important.
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