Sometimes us psychotherapists and healers are so busy helping others learn how to give themselves the self care they need, we forget to give it to ourselves. There are different names for it, but I think “caregiver burnout” describes it perfectly. As Thanksgiving approaches, I realize I may be approaching burn out. As addicts and alcoholics, you know that old saying HALT (Hungry,Angry,Lonely, Tired) are the things you need to avoid or relapse may be a step away. I am definitely feeling tired. I am grateful for all the wonderful things this year has brought me, but at the same time, I need a big pause. As I watch myself go on autopilot, I realize that it is time to be still, meditate, slow down, and be present. Those are some of the things that are part of my self-care regimen. What about you?
of us believe, in theory, that we should make efforts to take better
care of ourselves, through better eating, more exercise, or working our
recovery programs. But we can fall into the trap of forgetting to engage
or these behaviors. Under the surface, there might be another reason we
don’t follow through: we don’t really believe that we deserve to tend to our personal well-being. Self-care is often erroneously and critically labeled selfishness. It’s not. Even Jesus and Gandhi took time for themselves, withdrawing from the crowds to tend to their spirits.
spent in self-care fills us up so we can give of ourselves and not be
left dried and shriveled up like last summer’s grapes left on the vine.
Most of us can relate to the feeling of running on empty. This
automotive analogy is actually a good one. What can our car do for us
with no gasoline in the tank? Be a large, shiny driveway ornament? Not
so useful. So why do we expect ourselves to be able to run and give and
work and cook and clean and put on a happy face with nothing fueling us?
It’s crazy, and it’s high time we kick crazy to the curb.
yourself a priority. Make the time to do the things that fill you up.
For some, it may be a leisurely stroll on the beach. For others, 30
uninterrupted minutes with a great book. Or a fabulous bike ride or
coffee with your friends or seeing your loving therapist (see how I slid
that one in?). Or seeing a movie in the theater. It
doesn’t have to be a week long trip to Tahiti (though if you get the
opportunity, I highly recommend jumping at it). In fact, they should be
the small things that you love. The ones that bring you peace and a
sense of reconnection with yourself. Small things are doable and can be
easily incorporated into your everyday life. Pick a few and put them on
your calendar, in your Blackberry, whatever — and then actually do them.
those resisters who think, “I can’t possibly take that time. I won’t be
able to be there as much for my kids and spouse and boss” — stop making
excuses. Because, honestly, that’s what that is. If your kids or spouse
or boss had to choose between someone who was happy and creative and
energized when they were with them or someone who was barely hanging on
by a thread, who do you think they would choose? Who would you
choose? By investing in yourself, you create dividends to extend to
those around you. When you’re running on empty, all you’re giving them
are your fumes. Not pleasant.
aside those faulty notions of the nobility of killing yourself for the
greater good. Realize that your greatest gift to give others is the best
version of yourself. Remember, you are “enough” and that “more” is not always better, especially when you have too much on your plate. So go ahead, take that sacred pause. You absolutely deserve it.