You can’t care for or lead others unless you care for and lead yourself.
It’s counterintuitive but true. You think you’re being selfless when you push yourself beyond healthy limits (in time, relationships, rest, working out). But you’re setting yourself up for failure and letting everyone who relies on you down.
In fact, sometimes we wear our exhaustion as a badge of honor. Look how hard I’m working! I’m so noble! But the truth is, we’re settling for something less than our best.
You’re letting people down if you don’t take care of yourself. Your role in your job, your family, your group of friends is too important to settle for a half-strength, distracted, and exhausted version of you.
We owe it to the people around us to be rested, healthy, and present. And most of the time, we can do it without letting (many) people down. You have to prioritize and say no to some things. Saying “no” is tough at first, but once you start, it becomes more clear what is “filler” in life and what really matters.
There are lots of ways to look at self care, but it almost always starts with the physical. If our physical bodies are worn down, we’re going to be pretty worthless relationally, emotionally and spiritually.
Here are a few areas to consider:
Eat – Everyone has an opinion on this. I think something like this or this is a solid approach. But whatever your approach is, find a way of eating real food that works for you – something that is nourishing and gives you energy.
Sleep – That extra hour of work at night doesn’t make you more productive. You need 8 hours of sleep. You really do. Maybe you’re lucky and need 7 or so. But be honest about how much you need. You’ll also sleep better if you go to bed and get up around the same time each day. I know that’s tough. I don’t do it well. But it’s true.
Move – Maybe this is walking every day for 30 minutes. Maybe it’s going to the gym three times a week. Maybe it’s extreme kayaking every evening (yeah, that would be cool, right?). I don’t know how it works for you, but movement increases our energy, makes us happier, helps us live longer, and even makes us smarter.
Reflect and Renew – Some people need to be alone and reflect. Others need to get out and connect. But we all need a way to recharge. So whether it’s coffee with a friend, prayer, reading, silence, journaling, or something else entirely. Find whatever works for you to feel mentally and emotionally renewed.
“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” – Samuel Johnson
None of this is new or groundbreaking. The tough part is putting it into action.
We weren’t meant to be “on” all the time. We aren’t best when we’re sitting around doing nothing 24/7 either. Our bodies and lives work best with healthy rhythms of stress and rest. Finding time to take care of the basics can make all the difference.