As women today, we live in such a great time in history! We can enjoy so many more freedoms and take advantage of many opportunities that women in the past couldn’t. Because of this, we also seem to wear more “hats” than ever before, too — employee or employer, mother, companion, friend, chef, counselor, housekeeper, investor, and the list goes on and on. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all that we are doing, that we don’t stop to take care of ourselves.
If you have ever flown in a commercial airplane, then you have heard the flight attendant’s instructions informing passengers about airplane exits, emergency lighting, flotation devices, and oxygen masks that fall from above your head in case the cabin loses pressure. Then the flight attendant will say something like this; “Place the oxygen mask over your nose and mouth before assisting children or those around you.”
That truth plays out off the airplane as well. We have to take care of ourselves if we are going to take care of anyone else properly. I heard someone say you have to “show up” for yourself before you can “show up” for others. Think about it — if you are empty, how will you have anything to give? If you are constantly giving and never replenishing, you will be left drained. We are God’s creation, and we have a responsibility to keep ourselves at our best. A hundred years ago, the main cause of illness was infection. Today the main cause of illnesses is stress. God never planned for us to live stressed-out and overbooked. He created the world and all that is in it, and then He took a day off. When is the last time you took the day off or took some time to recharge your battery?
If you’re like me, you make a to-do list every day: Run the kids to soccer, stop by the grocery store, finish a project at work. You rush here and there, taking care of all the things that matter most: family, jobs, friends, church... Oh yeah, did you forget to put yourself on the list? Do you need to move yourself up the list in priority? Most of us try to take care of everyone else but ourselves, but I’ve found I am unable to give my best if I don’t have my best to give.
I have a friend who has a great husband and three beautiful children. She is a good wife and mother, but she told me that she feels so guilty when she goes and gets her nails done. She feels like she has to rush when she is taking time to get her hair cut and colored. She said, “I sit in the chair at the salon tapping my feet nervously, just counting the minutes; I can’t seem to relax. I feel like I don’t have time to take care of myself because there is so much that needs to be done.”
It’s funny, because I am sure the only time she doesn’t feel guilty is when she is doing things for her family. But the truth is, her family probably wants her to take time for herself so she can be her best for them. Don’t fall into the trap of putting yourself last on the list or not even putting yourself on the list. That’s not balance; it’s not even healthy. You are important, so you must take care of yourself. That means you have to do things to relax — read, play golf, take a bubble bath — even if you have to schedule thirty minutes of “me time” into your daily planner. Sometimes just taking a walk in the park and looking at the birds or taking in some fresh air is enough to rejuvenate us. Maybe you need to kick back under a tree and enjoy an ice-cream cone. (fat free of course!) Whatever it is that refreshes and refocuses you will be a good investment of your time.
Investing in yourself also means investing in your personal growth. Maybe you need to join a gym to get back in shape or invest in some teaching CDs or leadership material. Sure it can cost some money, but you’re worth it, and the return will far outweigh the investment. You might be surprised at how a few small deposits in yourself can pay off in a big way. The important thing is that you take time for yourself and you enjoy it. If you had an expensive family heirloom, you would take care of it. You wouldn’t mistreat it, let it get beat up or worn down, because it is valuable. You are valuable, too, so take care of yourself!