Most of your life is made up of a sequence of micro decisions. If you don't include making some choices for yourself to restore your energy, you're in for some burnout and resentment toward others and even yourself.
Pressures will always be there for you to do what's expected from others (society, family, friends, etc.). While you may feel pulled in multiple directions, you always have the choice to say no. Saying no can be challenging, but like anything, the more you do it, the more comfortable you will become.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or torn about a choice you must make, it’s time to pause and listen to what your inner voice is telling you. So much of the time we move too fast in order to get more done, but we don’t have to do that when it comes to pausing for reflection. If you’re having trouble slowing your mind down to focus because there are a number of things you’re experiencing all at once, it’s time to take out a notebook/journal/electronic device to record what your inner voice is trying to say.
Pay special attention when your inner voice is expressing dread about an event or task you were initially interested in or excited about. Dread is usually a sign that there is a deeper meaning beneath the feeling. If you take the time to discover what's buried below the surface, you could find a number of reasons for the feeling. Keep your focus on this single feeling and ask yourself through written form, why you’re feeling this way.
In my experience, the biggest reason for feelings of dread has been because I didn’t have enough energy. When and if this is the case for you, it’s a signal that you must prioritize the time to recharge. If you can shuffle things around to give yourself some much-needed rest, you may surprise yourself how much more energy you have, not to mention that feeling of dread may simply vanish. In the event you can’t step away to recharge, then it becomes imperative to do so as soon as possible.
In the event you've recharged for the time you had available and you still are feeling rundown and dreading something you once felt excitement for, it's tough decision-making time. Do you proceed with a half-charged battery risking full depletion or do you prioritize your well-being and take a time out? Below are a couple of approaches to consider as you proceed with your choices for self-care.
Take baby steps and compromise
Life is a continuous effort of finding balance. When you cannot afford to adjust your day completely for self-care when it's needed, try to find wiggle room somewhere so you can compromise. For example, if you're feeling run down and are having a hard time thinking straight, but you know you have an important afternoon meeting, take off the morning to rest. This way, you can get some of your energy and focus back, while avoiding the need to push yourself to the max with energy you don't have.
If prioritizing self-care makes you feel guilty, because you want to follow through with social obligations, try using the compromising trick and experience the benefits of prioritizing your wellness. Think of it this way, when you prioritize self-care by taking a step out of your day, you'll be able to give others so much more of yourself when you step back in. The more you practice this habit, the easier it gets.
There is value in honesty
As individuals, we know how we feel, but others won't know or understand unless we tell them. It can feel uncomfortable shining the spotlight on yourself and advocating for your needs, but if you don't do this for yourself, who will? You deserve to be and feel your best and the best person who can give that to you is you!
The downside to self-care advocacy is that it can sometimes come at the cost. While you have everything to gain in feeling better physically, don't be surprised when and if others don't like seeing you act differently. For example, there may be times the reaction you get from others isn’t very understanding or supportive when you tell them you can’t follow through with original plans. Please know any harsh reactions or judgments are not about you; they have to do with others either dealing with their own expectations, control, or fear.
That being said, in the event you're faced with ongoing scrutiny from someone who you think should have your best interests at heart, ask yourself if the ongoing letdown is healthy or if it's an energy drainer. Unfortunately, there are some relationships that are more about just taking than a healthy exchange of give and take. Reflecting on who really supports you when you advocate for self-care can be tough, but you deserve to investigate the truth of your relationships in order to navigate situations that keep you focused on well-being.
Ongoing lack of support is unfortunate and undeserving. That being said, if you're just starting out with self-care advocacy and just beginning to tell others "no" or being honest about your needs, give them some time to absorb and talk to you about the new way you’re showing up. You'll know what feels okay to you and when someone is rejecting you for longer than you’re comfortable with. Do what feels best and dip into your courage if you need to cut out any toxicity and negativity from your life.
This self-care journey is ongoing and can be rough. In my experience, it’s never over but it’s always worth it. Sharing your self-care needs can sometimes be easy and sometimes be difficult depending on who you’re encountering. It’s an unfortunate reality that many people have never given themselves permission to prioritize their self-care, so when you make it a priority, it can put people on tilt.
The good news is that the ones who get it really will get it and become your biggest supportive cheerleaders. What’s more, sometimes there are stragglers who didn't initially get it but come around because they see the successful self-care example you’re living. In other words, your practices not only can teach you what works and what doesn't, but they also can act as a catalyst to encourage others to prioritize their self-care too.
While there isn't always an obvious time for self-care, you must make room for it, protect it, and take it seriously. The more you do, the more others will too. Ultimately all the microdecisions you make impact your well-being. With these choices, you have more control over your experiences and well-being than you think. When you choose to focus and advocate for self-care, it helps to keep you on the path toward a life you enjoy instead of being full of things that you dread.
May you make room for self-care each and every day because it is not selfish, it’s essential. You may even become a catalyst for self-care along your way.
Kelly Stone Cramer
For more uplifting messages, view all past recharge tips here.
Feel free to connect with me via email at Kelly@HappinessRecharge.com.
P.S. I have a special journal available for you. It includes three sections to keep you organized, focused and fulfilled. It can be used as an essential life tool to find more gratitude, evolve goals and reflect upon growth. You can find it with other books here (available for $5.99).
P.P.S. if you want to take recharging to the next level while at home, spend a half-day with this virtual retreat (free during the pandemic). This time is for you to focus on increasing your self-care, strengthen personal empowerment, find more balance and create a clear path ahead.