Do you find yourself so caught up in others or helping people that you forget to care for yourself? Do you lose sleep? Forget to eat? Skip meals and go without breaks?
I’ve talked to clients about this and it really is a common spiral that leads you into the realm of breakdown, burn out. I’ve been there. I’ve gone into the obsessive dark side of helping others so much that it was really to my own detriment. I learned this the very hard way.
So, what do you do when you focus too much on others? First, of all I’m not saying that we can’t help people and friends/families-of course being helpful and supportive is what makes the world a wonderful place. Another point—being a parent of course involves doing a lot for your children and making sacrifices. This is needed to raise healthy, happy children, but there needs to be a balance—parent time and/or relationship time. So, overall, there is a limit and we need to see the line in the sand.
Take this little quiz to see where you are on the scale:
- How many times per week do you skip lunch and/or dinner to run around for people, either at their request, or worse, of your own volition?
- How many times per week do you feel resentful of others for not appreciating what you do for them?
- How many times per week do you feel exhausted from a chaotic day filled with errands, tasks and jobs that have to do with others and are not in any way supportive of the things you like to do?
- How many people do you care for, not including children and spouses/partners?
- How often do you find yourself thinking about other people’s problems and dilemmas? Do you lose sleep over them?
If you spend 4-5 days per week on numbers 1-3, then you have definitely left yourself out of the equation.
If you answered the same to number 5 then your time is spent focusing on others to your own detriment.
Number 4 is just to give you an idea of the extent of your responsibilities…that may turn into a burden.
What can you do to turn things around?
Here are some things that I do to remind myself that I’m very important and special and without my health, vitality and wellness, there is nothing. I can’t do anything for others unless I have a solid foundation.
- Put time into your agenda
to do some of your favourite silly things that have nothing at all to do with responsibility or obligation (Mine is either: reading an Archie comic, going for a walk in the park beside my house, listening to Hayhouse radio, baking cookies, going to bootcamp)
- Focus on pampering.
(Mine are: bath with epsom salt or lavender essential oil, give myself a pedicure & paint my toenails)
- Take a nap.
(I love to nap on my days off or in the evening when I get home after a long, stressful day—you can set the alarm if you’re worried about sleeping too long)
- Stop and assess how you feel.
(Pick a time in the day-for example at 2pm in the afternoon in the middle of the work day. Go into the bathroom or somewhere private and breathe for a minute and then ask yourself silently, How do I feel? How is my day going? Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Pay attention and do what your body or emotional self is asking for. Maybe it means go outside and sit in the sun for 10 minutes or head to the cafe for a latte/tea)
- Be easy on yourself.
(Write down at the end of the day—What did I do really well today? What am I proud of that I’ve done for myself today? Give an example of what you did to make your life easier that day…for example, Did I take the scenic route home? Did I voice my opinion in the board meeting?)
Try these suggestions for 2 weeks and see how you feel! Focus on the idea that without you, there is nothing. You are the centre of your own universe. You are the most important person to look after and when you do, others will benefit the most.
If this sounds simplistic, it is. Life is not meant to be a struggle. Let’s all keep this in mind as we go about our day, being helpful and supportive (as a balanced, whole person).
Photo credit: Brooklyn Morgan