Quite often more than we should, we give wholeheartedly to others - while neglecting ourselves. I see it happen all the time, and I have allowed it to happen in my life as well - wanting to help others to get things done while on the other hand, everything around us and in our life is falling apart. It's sacrificing so much without making ourselves a priority and giving others permission to deplete us at their benefit in the process. I call it giving to the point of depletion.
How often do you jump out of bed thinking about everything on your to-do list but yourself? Or allowing people to come into our space making demands on our life - without stopping them on their track?
This year, I have started to focus more on how I feel and the things that make me feel alive or connected to who I truly am - it's doing more listening, slowing down and identifying what consumes my body and mind. Something we all need to spend more time doing. But how do you slow down and give more to yourself before running yourself to wreck - or before resorting to indulging in one too many glasses of wine to deal with taking the edge off dealing with the demands of everyone. You watch Being Mary Jane, right? If not, you are missing out - back to business, while watching Episode 4: Being Kara (one which resonated the most with me so far this season) - I realised how often women play 'superwoman' - checking everything off our to-do lists while neglecting ourselves and wallowing in guilt when we don't meet the demands of others. Guilty. Well, you can stop being guilty today.
So, how do we stop overdoing and start prioritizing ourselves? Realistically, you can't give to others when you are depleted - I have tried it and failed terribly! You can't fake tired! And remember, you cannot do your best work when you are beyond the point of exhaustion - so how do we start investing more in ourselves and our lives? I call it, doing whatever it takes to take care of you, and here I share three steps to help move closer to investing more in yourself.
1. Take stock of the things that are consuming you
In order to grow to the next level, it's essential to assess where you are and have a clear vision of where you want to go. It's knowing how your environment, habits, and people have an effect on how you feel as an individual - this means, you will need to invest in reflection.
It's pausing to allow growth to catch up with you by evaluating your experiences. It will help you to identify the areas in your life where you are failing and how you can grow. To do this, you will need to step away from the chaos and ask yourself the questions you don't often ask yourself, like - How do I feel now? How do I want to feel daily? Why do I feel this way and what can I do now to fix it. The great thing about taking stock is that it helps with growth. And growth is about assessing and learning from each experience to be better.
For instance, earlier this year - I invested in a well-needed stay-cation for my birthday - it was my time to embrace my own company and identify what I could do differently after realizing I was feeling more burnt out than I liked. For me, my daily habit of over-consuming social media as well as feeling the need to meet the demands of others - whether it was over-committing and meeting last minute deadlines was draining. I took stock of why I constantly felt overwhelmed and identified what I was harbouring in my life that was draining my energy. For some of you, it may be your environment or a relationship that is consuming you - and because the things that consume us comes in many forms, it is essential to reflect on how everything makes you feel and whether it is hindering your progress.
Sometimes it requires a change in our approach and who we surround ourselves with. For instance, I was seemingly the fix-it girl - I ran to rescue everyone/thing. So I had to step back and start to eliminate the time I spent trying to help everyone fix things.
2. Detox - Letting Go to Grow
Would you agree that you hold onto the things that are dear and close to you? Yes, I do. But you know what? Sometimes, it's the same things that we think are so precious to us that are the very things that are draining us. Friends, relationships, and habits included. It's often the persons closest to us that we allow to consume our energy - they overstep boundaries and have high expectations and demands. But once you have identified what is consuming you, it's time to cut and trim. You'll need to eliminate the habits, the energy, the people and the relationships that are holding you back. I am not saying you are going to cut your childhood best friend out of your life - but they are overstepping the boundaries and consuming your energy then you need to change it.
Do you have people who only pop up in your life when they want something? Do they dump their problems on you are then disappear or do they check in on you as well? That's why it is important to assess before you start detoxing. Once you have identified the things that consume, then you will be better able to know how to detox and what to eliminate.
Also, another form of detoxing that many of us don't tend to do is a digital detox or switching up things a bit to help us to feel rejuvenated - you know like no phone or emails before 8 in the morning or simply changing your diet for a week and trying something new. This year, I have invested in more detox than I usually do - since I realised it was the best way to rid myself of all the mess I have been harbouring, like bad habits, people who were draining me, foods that clogged my system and whatever else that I thought was hindering my progress. While it the process of getting rid of those things was no walk in the park - you have to know for yourself that it is something worth doing.
3. Find and do what works for you
During the process of assessing what is consuming you. You should also identify what is working - this will help you to move forward and change your life. What is working for you now? Do you know what is your breaking point? Do you set boundaries? What gives you that knack when you feel overwhelmed? Is it journalling, ditching your friends for a night in or spending some time at the spa to clear your mind. For me, it's my new found habit of meditating, journalling, squeezing in early morning exercises before work, taking a staycation or limiting the time I spend on social media.
I have found that a great way for me to clear my mind and refocus on what's important - ME, is to meditate. It's allocating time to create a space to breathe - to refocus and recharge. While I am still new to meditating techniques, I have started using HeadSpace to help me with clearing my mind, especially after a stressful day. The app meditation technique helps you to allot 10 minutes daily to detox mentally. I have found that it helps me to clear my mind and identify ways to navigate tough situations better. If you’ve ever tried meditation, or even thought about trying it, then I recommend you to see if Headspace can help you create a successful meditation habit. Andy Puddicombe’s TED talk is also a must watch.
Another thing that works for me is taking breaks in between when I have withdrawn so much from my life. It's my way of making a deposit. Giving my mind and body that gift, of a break - to step away from work and regroup. This is especially best when I feel exhausted or feel the stress creeping up.
Choose wisely what you say yes to - I am so guilty of over committing without assessing if the task is worth pursuing. And then end up being burnt out.
Getting sufficient rest - it is important to know your limits and when you realistically cannot take on anything else or go any further. While I am guilty of not getting enough sleep myself, when I do slow down, get some rest - it helps to bring back the happier me. Arianna Huffington shares the story of why she decided to slow down, take a break and get some sleep in order to truly thrive.