The truth is that we usually have no one to blame for our stress but ourselves. We're in charge of our lives, our workload, our energy and our day. We get to say "yes" and we get to say "no." We have financial choices, social choices and choices on how we choose to spend our time.
How you feel at the end of your day? Do you feel excited, satisfied and energized? Great! Do you feel exhausted, frazzled and overwhelmed? Time to fix it by taking responsibility for your own well-being!
1. Stop the blame game!
If you find yourself tired and overwhelmed, resist the temptation to blame others. It's a habit that has little value. Blaming others gives away your power. Take back your power, and realize that the buck stops with you. You are responsible for ensuring that you feel good.
2. Be unapologetic
Right next to blame sits its ugly cousin, guilt. Guilt points its bony finger at you when you try to do something good for yourself, rather than wearing yourself out as you've been conditioned to. Guilt will keep pushing you beyond the boundaries of what's good for you.
Guilt is all about self-worth. Why would you feel guilty about taking care of yourself? If your best friend came to you complaining that she felt overworked and exhausted, you'd tell her to take some time out and set some boundaries. You might suggest she tell her kids that she isn't actually running a taxi and maid service, and explain to her neighbor that she no longer wants to spend the best part of her Sunday gossiping.
You are important, so treat yourself like a good friend.
3. Plan ahead
Building a habit is the key. In order to do that, you'll need to practice some self-discipline. It's not good enough to just check into a day spa once, feel better immediately afterward — and then jump back onto the crazy merry-go-round of life.
Decide on a regular time and activity and stick to it. If you have nothing planned, leave the house anyway. Sit with a coffee and watch the world go by, or take yourself out on a walk. This needs to be a non-negotiable appointment with yourself.
4. Get organized
Most people don't work nearly as many hours as they think they do. They're simply overwhelmed —their world is spinning out of control. It's largely all in their heads. No, I'm not implying they're making it up. I'm saying that mental stress makes things feel bigger than they are.
If you can get more effective in your day and more organized in your life, the mental noise will quieten down, and you will become even more effective and organized. The key to being more effective is to have a good idea of your core values and priorities. This makes it easier to make good choices for self-care.
5. Practice saying "no"
Saying "no" is one of the best skills you'll ever learn. It is the favorite word of those who excel at self-care, so practice it! Set yourself a goal to develop this important skill.
Why not make it a game? Say "no" to the next question asked of you, or to everything for an entire day. You can always go back and say you changed your mind later.
Practice saying "no" and doing it gently and tactfully. Some people have developed this art to the point where you feel like they're doing you a favor when they turn you down. That's how good YOU want to get!
These five golden rules for taking care of yourself hold the power to transform you. Practice them daily — and be kind to yourself.
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