Life is busy. There is always work to do, groceries to buy, errands to run, dogs to walk, and if you have kids – then throw everything else out the window! While 2018 was a very tough year for me – to put it mildly – I also learned something new: the importance of taking time for yourself.
Last summer, my father died suddenly, unexpectedly, and on the morning I was supposed to spend the weekend with him. My world came crashing down. It wasn’t just heartbreaking, it was soul shattering.
I have never experienced a loss so great before, but I learned one thing about the grieving process – there is nothing you can do but be kind to yourself and give yourself the time you need.
It’s easy to get caught up in life and work, and not let yourself just – be. Just relax, without guilt or worry about life’s to-do list. But suddenly, I was put in a position where I was not mentally or emotionally able to work. At first I felt guilty and overwhelmed, but then it hit me – I’m allowed to take time to grieve. I’m allowed to take time for myself to process what happened.
But why should it take death to force us to take time for self care? Each of us deserve to do this regularly. And it doesn’t have to be all of the time – or even most of the time. But we all deserve to regularly take some time for ourselves.
I have to admit though, once classes started again in August (I teach at a university), I forgot this life lesson. I got wrapped up in work and worked until I was exhausted and could do nothing but veg on the couch and watch Netflix. Academia is especially hard because it’s not a traditional 9-5 so it can be difficult to set aside an “off” time. But it doesn’t take working in education to stretch yourself too thin. Kids, busy schedules, family obligations, or just life itself is enough to keep anyone far too busy.
I realized that in order for me to remember to take time for myself, I have to set aside days/times.
I’ve chosen each Sunday evening to be time for blogging, and each Wednesday evening to be time for whatever hobby or activity sounds enjoyable at the time. Of course, I plan on taking more time for myself than just those two evenings! But no matter how busy I get, no matter how many papers I need to grade or lectures I need to prep, I can count on those two evenings for guilt-free, relaxing enjoyment.
So far it’s working well for me. Of course – this strategy is what works for me but you may find you need to do something totally different!
And when I feel that guilt creeping in, I remind myself that it’s ok to take time for yourself. It’s ok to take time to enjoy life and do hobbies that make you happy.
So here’s to a new beginning. 2018 is over, and I welcome 2019 with open arms. May we all find a prosperous, peaceful, and enjoyable year ahead of us.
Do you make sure to take time for self care? How have you chosen to balance a busy life and personal time?