I decided to blog because I am extra exhausted right now, and this feeling is normal. I feel this way at the end of most if not all days, and I then take time to reflect on what exactly I accomplished that created such exhaustion.
I found myself today, like many other days, upset that I did not accomplish nearly what I planned to accomplish. I then think again, “Why am I so tired?” The answer is simple. I did not take time out for me. The day started with grand intentions. I would clean a little since I missed my nightly routine last night. I would go to church, and then I would come home and relax and do whatever I felt like doing. And I did do this…kind of. I waited after church to get my reimbursement check that I chased after all week. In order to get the check, though, I had to sit through a women’s ministry meeting where I, of course, volunteered to help with the next event involving children. I went out to eat with the family (my father’s treat). It was from this point that things probably spiraled a little out of control. The plan was to get contact paper to finish my Pinterest blinds since I vowed to finish this project before starting any others. Four stores later, I had no contact paper and more school supplies for my classroom. Before I could set down my bags, I hopped back in the car with my father for a Macy’s trip to look for bedding for his new home, hoping to find a glimpse of some ideas to make my house look and feel more “homey.” To add insult to injury, I got into a rather large disagreement with another ministry team, spent HOURS debating about the best comforter/bed spread for my father’s new rooms only to decide on nothing for now, and revisited two additional stores (still have no contact paper).
If you do not take time for yourself, you will be no good for anyone else.
I know. I know. I know. Life is hectic. Your schedule does not allow for “me” time. Yet, with all of the demands on your life from others, you cannot afford to put yourself on the backburner. This post is not for the self-absorbed, new generation savvy, self-centered people. We already live in a “me” driven society. I am simply speaking to those who need to learn to survive to hold on to any piece of sanity. I am speaking to those who spend their lives involved in the activities of their children, their church, their husbands, their jobs, their teams, and their sororities.
Taking time daily to be selfish, to do something that you really love with no other motive than it relaxes you, stimulates the energy you need for those that surround you. I am not referring to the dinner party that you feel obligated to attend, nor the Internet surfing to find creative ideas for your workplace. I am talking about the hour of brain dead activity where you watch your favorite television show uninterrupted. I am talking about that book that you pick up and cannot put down. I am talking about the journaling, the walking in the park, the scrapbooking, whatever it is that allows you to escape.
I do not claim to have all the answers, but as an avid self-improver, here are some methods that work when I stick to them. (I have a habit of abandoning practices that are working when life gets more hectic.)
Morning devotions and evening devotions go a long way in maintaining sanity, and they definitely count towards your “me” time. For those of you who are less spiritual, there are plenty of positive affirmation sites, books, e-mail lists, and activities that could serve a similar purpose.
Schedule your time.
Furthermore, take your time first. I have heard that first thing in the morning works best. For me specifically, morning is OUT! As a school teacher, I must leave my house before 6:00AM to get the kids where they need to be and still get to work on time. Getting up before 5am will not happen. However, there are plenty of you who do not mind getting up 30 minutes to an hour early to relax, and for you, this time is perfect. On the other hand, I tried taking my time as soon as we put the kids to bed, but I was too tired to truly enjoy it. At that point, I had worked in exercise, dinner, some lesson planning and cleaning. Throughout the week, work takes 6 to 8 of your best hours. The least you can do is give yourself the best of the rest. The kids can wait. I close myself into a room with a locked door and project it out. (For those of you wondering, my kids are 4 and 1. I use my 4 year-old to entertain my 1 year-old and just keep my ears open for blood curdling screaming. When she was younger, the baby slept more so I took my time as soon as she settled in for her afternoon/evening nap. The 4-year old has been trained not to bother me during my “me” time.)
Learn what “me” time does not include.
EXERCISE DOES NOT COUNT. While I undoubtedly approve and promote daily fitness, exercise is its own beast. Many struggle to convince themselves to get a daily dose of structured physical activity. As such, I do not recommend associating this activity with “me” time no matter how great you feel at completion. Following this train of thought, any activity that makes you more tired at completion than you did before starting should not count as “me” time. No over ever left a morning devotion saying, “Whew, those inspirational words just wore me out!” On the contrary, if you spend the time looking for the best deal on the pool table for your husband’s new man cave, you will probably quickly begin to view you “me” time as a waste of time, another item on your never-ending to-do list.
Just say no.
Plenty of our daily undertakings are self-imposed. We just could not form our mouths to say no when asked to chair that committee or volunteer to help with that event. We had to attend that birthday party or take someone’s place at that conference. It is absolutely okay for your day to be full because of your “me” time.
I have so many other suggestions. Disconnect from technology – no phone calls, texts or e-mails unrelated to “me” time. Try to work up to an hour a day. “Me” time can include time spent with good friends. (It does not have to take place in isolation.) The clock stops when interrupted by husbands, kids, phone calls, or anything which does not result in complete relaxation. I’ll close, though, with one final thought.
“Me” time is completely selfish. This time frame is completely about you and no-one else. As a Christian, I find the thought counterintuitive to everything I ever learned about selfishness. Therefore, I follow the train of thought by saying that others always benefit as a result of this time for yourself – sometimes simultaneously. It simply means that for you to be everything you need to be for your chaotic world, you must intentionally incorporate your own moments in time. You give and give and give – to your children, to your husband, to your career, to your friends, to your co-workers and to countless others. To continue being selfLESS, you must be a little selfISH.
Until next time, thank you for your selfLESSness. It is part of what makes you ordinarily extraordinary.