Women are told that they can have it all — parenthood, families, careers, relationships, and community involvement.
Women are not told, however, that by juggling all these hats they put themselves at risk for feeling perpetually burned out.
Many women become so busy taking care of kids, partners, parents, in-laws, pursuing careers, and managing the day-to-day maintenance of running a home (cooking, cleaning, shopping), that everyone else gets their best. They get shortchanged.
Some women even put basic needs on hold — doctor’s appointments, haircuts, coffee with a close friend. If this resonates, you might feel dissatisfied, lonely, unappreciated, haggard, cranky, disheveled and even unattractive.
Having it all leaves you with no strength and no time to care for yourself.
I remember one particular Mother’s Day, sitting in one of my favorite cafes overlooking a park in bloom, surrounded by my two daughters and my then-husband. I was absolutely exhausted — caring for two small children, working, taking care of the house, attempting to keep it all together. Sitting there, on Mother’s Day, fighting to keep my eyes open, all I could think was, “What about me?”
Research (1) has shown that women today are less happy than they have been over the past 40 years. Why? Theories abound, but l suspect a lack of “me-time” is a major reason. All the hats we juggle leave many women not taking adequate care of ourselves — the very thing we need to give us the strength and energy to address all the responsibilities we have.
It’s a depletion loop. We keep taking and taking and taking from ourselves without giving anything back.
In fact, the chronic underlying stress of keeping all these hats in the air can lead to serious health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, headaches, digestive problems, weight gain, memory issues and even autoimmune disease. Self-care is an important antidote in battling all of these conditions.
Yet, in my health coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, most women tell me that they “don’t have time” to take time for themselves. When we delve a little deeper, however, it becomes clear that “time” is not the issue.
What’s the issue? There is an insidious undercurrent of guilt for taking care of herself. Many women internalize the implied message that it’s her “duty” to minimize her needs in order to care for others. That, if she is taking care of herself, then she is taking time away from caring for someone else.
Every women requires self-care for peak performance and heightened self-esteem. After all, if you don’t carve out the time to truly care and love yourself, if you avoid things that make you feel mentally and physically well, you deplete your self-esteem. Essentially you’re robbing your own bank!
So, I ask you: “What do you want for you?”
8 Reasons to Put You First on Your List
- You will be better equipped to communicate your needs, and the support you require, to your partner, family, friends and co-workers.
- Putting yourself first will make you stronger and healthier.
- Attending to your needs, and learning to put yourself first, will raise your level of contentedness and happiness.
- Setting compassionate boundaries will make you feel cared for, nurtured and loved.
- Putting yourself first will recharge your battery, make you better rested and give you the space to discover (or rediscover!) your passions.
- You will feel more appreciated, and in turn, you will feel more appreciative and grateful toward the people in your life.
- You will be a more patient, attentive and attuned partner, parent, sibling, daughter, and/or professional.
- If you are a parent, you will demonstrate to your children what it looks like respect yourself. Kids learn from their parents. Do you want to teach them to put their needs last, or do you want to role model what it looks like to take care of themselves?
Ultimately, self-care is essential and non-negotiable. From getting enough sleep, to taking care of our basic needs, to setting personal limits and boundaries, to being honest with our partners, it’s making our health and wellness a non-negotiable priority.
Need help getting started? Melissa can help! Head over to our CoachMe page and learn how you can work with her to begin your self-care journey.
Do you live near Blum Center in Rye Brook, NY? Join Melissa for her special 4-session series, Reclaim Your Body, Love Your Life: A Women’s Group for Lasting Change, that begins April 26th: Learn More and Sign Up Now
Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.