We all have busy lives, when we get up in the morning the clock starts ticking and the race is on! We are stretched in so many directions, and we have a hard time saying “no” when we are asked to do more. At the end of the day take a moment to ask yourself, “What did I do for myself today?” Chances are you probably didn’t even take the time to eat lunch which means you certainly did not stop to smell the roses. I used to live this way until I made a conscious effort to make myself number one.
I knew that with a baby on the way this cycle had the potential to become more demanding than it already was. So, before my son was born I made a pact with myself: I will put myself before others, even him. Now before you think that I am a selfish person, let me explain. If I put everybody and everything ahead of myself, then when will I take care of myself? Never! With a sound mind and strong body I am much more valuable as a father. Not to mention that I will be around longer to enjoy all that is in store for me as my son grows up.
I believe self care is one of the least taught lessons in life, and one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves and others, especially our children. The three areas that we can tap into to keep us healthy are our Mind, Body & Spirit.
**The Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson is also up on my list of fascinating and thought-provoking reads that challenged and inspired me.
We can only serve others well, when we serve ourselves well. This is clearer to me now more than ever since becoming a father. We either model healthy choices or we forge an uphill battle we will never win. And, you ultimately want to win. You’re Number One!
How do you care for yourself?
Do you put yourself high or low on your priority list?
What can you do to put yourself at the top of the list?
I love this post. I’ll admit that when I first read it I was put off by the title and the “selfish” tone but I see pretty clearly now that that was my defensiveness kicking in. I LOVE taking care of myself but so often I’m sacrificing that time for something that I deem more important when it really isn’t. Society has very little room or time for self care and it’s a crime that we feel so guilty for wanting to take care of ourselves. Ayn Rand wrote a philosophical book about “The Virtue of Selfishness” and her premise is very similar to yours, Neil. Take care of yourself and you’ll take care of everyone else more efficiently and effectively than you could have in any other way.
Thanks for the great post, and to answer one of the questions you posed: I take care of myself by laying out in the sun with a good book or taking my funny dog for a walk in the park with my husband. These are always the simplest and purest of things and that’s so often not only where health abides but truth, love, and deep meaning as well.
Hi Molly –
Thank you for your reply.
I think when we are young self care is really not on our radar. The older you get the more critical self care gets, work life, family life, friends, and YOUR SELF, how do we fit this all in? Only you can answer that.
This is a great lesson for us to learn at a young age. My Mom & Dad taught me this lesson at an early age, and I am very thankful.
I do have certain times that are for myself. However, I also know I need to do more for myself physically and spiritually. And sometimes, I feel selfish when I take myself away to take care of whatever needs I have. And sometimes, I just feel sorry for myself!
Hi Annette –
Thank you for reply.
Life is ironic, most care takers forget about self care.
As you know we can only really care for others if we care for our selves.
It’s OK to be selfish at times, what is the other option?
Thank you for this prospective. You have helped me over the years to change my understanding with this very topic. Self denial taken to the extreme, can put us in a place where there simply isn’t enough of us to give in any effective way. The “balance” in life is what I have heard from you at a number of important junctures in my life. Thanks for leading me to a healthier life. I still need to hear this message from time to time and I appreciate you writing this down.
I love you man!
Hi Jeff –
Thank you for your reply.
You have taught me more about life than I could ever offer to you.
Neil, I too am very guilty of this. I put everything else before me. My do list sometimes seems more urgent, so I leave “me” for last. Balance, balance, balance is the key. And I DON’T mean a “balancing act” of trying to keep 10 balls in the air and hope none of them fall on my toes. I also learned breathing from you. Being naturally a shallow breather, I get great benefit when I stop and really breathe. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. Anne
Hi Anne –
Thank you for your reply. I know you just got back from San Diego and you had time to relax, you deserve the time away from work and home. Sometimes taking time for your self can be in little doses, a walk, a good book, or a good conversation with a good friend. We all have a different way of doing this, so keep this on top of your mind and you will find ways to keep caring for your self.
Thank you for your post and the reminder we all need to put ourselves first.
It is so easy to get caught up in caring for others, especially since we work in a service related industry. It trickles over into our lives outside of work and at the end of the day we have forgotten to do something just for us
I am struggling with that while on vacation this week. There are things I HAVE to take care of. The stuff that can wait I am putting on the backburner. I need this time to recharge mentally, physically and spiritually. It is easier said than done though.
I will remember this when I am feeling guilty about putting myself first.
Great job Neil!!
Hi Lori –
Thank you for your reply. This is a great challenge for all of us, I too struggle with balancing my life.
Life is short, so we only have so much time to do what we HAVE to do.
Here is my suggestion for your next day off or vacation time, write a list of two things you want to do for your self, and then put them on the top of the list. All the other items will get done in time.
Only you can take care of your self, plus you deserve to treat your self well.
I have taken a couple of hikes, enjoyed the company of friends and put off an appointment so I could have more time to myself to recharge.
I just might be getting the hang of this!