Feeling overwhelmed by your life?

Having trouble recharging?

Feeling exhausted?

Do you have a problem saying “no?”

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then you are not taking care of yourself.  A lot of times we women take care of everyone and put everyone’s needs before our own.  We are taught by our mothers to put on the “superwoman” cape and DO IT ALL.

Women, it’s time to take off the cape.

The rule of taking care of everyone else first needs to change to: “Take Care of Yourself First.”  When you put this healthier rule in effect, that leaves energy and time to take care of others.  If you do not take care of your self-care first, you become overwhelmed, exhausted, irritable, anxious and even can become depressed, which puts you in a place where you cannot help others.

As women, we think others will notice that we are exhausted, overwhelmed, or irritable and step in and help.  But why would they step in when you are doing everything for them?  Why would they help you when you aren’t helping yourself?

“But how do I do that Barbara?  My life is so busy…I just don’t have time!”

And I reply in my slight southern drawl, “Well, girl…you have to make the time.”

So here is how:

First, there is this thing called a calendar.  You use it for your work or family…you need to use it for your self-care as well.  Mark off time for self-care…that could be exercise, a pedicure, getting together with friends, connecting with nature, etc.  I would like to see you mark off at least an hour per day for self-care…and then make it happen.  Cherish and guard that time as your own and get your life balance back!

Second, implement “let me think about it” in your vocabulary.  Say it out loud right now 10 times.  Now the next time someone wants you to do something say, “Let me think about it.”  “Let me think about it” doesn’t mean “yes” or “no.”  It buys you time, however, to really think about and choose if the request is doable for you and your time.  When you reply with “no,” preface it with “I checked my calendar and that just doesn’t work for me at this time” or “I’d love to help however looking at my time restraints/projects/tiredness/commitments, I’m not able to help you out.”  O.K., so I’m giving you the words, now please use them for self-care’s sake!

Third, are you doing something for yourself that is truly just for you?  Something that brings you joy?  What are your hobbies?  What lights you up like the fourth of July?  You need to feed your passion.  That passion is you…that is your identity…it is something that fills your happy tank and keeps you balanced.  Don’t lose yourself in your kids, your relationship…keep you self-identity intact and you will be much more pleasant to be around.  If you are irritable a lot…you are not filling your happy tank.

Fourth, and this is really important, GET ENOUGH SLEEP!  Sure, you can probably function on 4-5 hours a night, but you’re just functioning.  To be rested, alert, feeling good physically and mentally, get your 8 hours.  Don’t let yourself binge on your favorite series unless you’ve had 8 hours sleep the night before with a goal of getting 8 hours after you watch a few episodes.  Take naps while your kiddo is taking a nap or at school.  You are not being lazy if you are sleeping!  You are taking care of yourself!

Finally, ASK FOR HELP.

“What?!” you say, “But Barbara, it’s so hard for me to ask for help!”

Remember what I said above about the cape?  Take it off girl and throw it on the ground.

We ALL need help.  You don’t lose your powerful woman/great mom/wonderful wife or partner card if you ask for help.  People can’t mind read and don’t really know what you need help with…this includes your partner/spouse.  ASK for what you need.  The other person could say “no” or “yes.”  If they say “no,” move onto another person you can ask.

Now, repeat after me, “I am only one person, I am only one person.”

Still having trouble asking for help?  Then hold on to your booties as I’m about to say something that might upset you…if you won’t ask for help, you are being selfish.  Yep, you read right, selfish.  So, here’s why.  You know that joy you feel, or that sense of power/accomplishment/pride you feel when you help someone?  Whether it’s giving support, problem solving, hugs, putting their things away, taking care of them while they are sick, making meals, etc…well, that feeling or payoff you get from giving….when you don’t allow others to give to you, you rob them of that feeling….so you selfishly hog all the good feelings from giving all for yourself.  That’s not fair is it?

Not asking for help also allows you to be a victim.  Victim of your circumstances.  Victim of others “not caring about me.”  It tailspins you into Eeyore mentality “It probably wouldn’t matter anyway.”  You remain stuck and bitter and resentful because you’re overwhelmed and exhausted – stop being a victim and ask for help…you may be surprised who is willing to help you!  And you get to say “Thank you.”  Easy peasy.

In summary, get out your calendar and start marking off time for yourself.  Let your children/spouse/partner/family/boss know you are unavailable during that time and that you are taking care of yourself.  If you haven’t ever taken care of yourself first before, they might push back, but stick to your guns and put yourself first.  Stop saying “yes” all the time and instead say “Let me think about it.”  Make a list of things you’d like to do/try and make one a week happen.  Get your sleep.  Ask for help.

Hopefully this article has been a cheering article for you.  I’m your cheerleader, and you need to be your own cheerleader as well.  Your support system also needs to be your cheer team…that’s what support systems do.

Take care of yourself first, get balance back in your life, and be well.

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