Take on Less to Take Care of Yourself

Sacrificing my peace to serve others is never a winning solution. I end up angry, frustrated, and burned out. I rush to complete tasks only to find even more tasks, emotional labor, and exhaustion. When I feel overwhelmed or as if I’m attempting to drink from a fire hose it often means I have taken on work that is not mine to do. I ignore my own needs to manage someone else’s wants. The key is the realization that to take care of myself often means I need to take on less.

When I am focused on things happening outside of my control it feels as if I am spent and there is nothing to show for it. I realize all too late that I can only do one thing at a time. And when I am chasing what everyone else wants I am not meeting my own needs. Therefore the only thing I can do is what is best and most important to me, not to everyone else. 

That means, eating a good healthy meal, taking time to meditate and rest. Exercising and using my body and getting outside. Taking breaks and not pushing myself to take on more and more. There is only now and there is only this. Reminding myself that I cannot be all things to all people helps. So does making a list. 

I list the things I’m worried about and then next to those items I list who is responsible for that item. It is incredibly freeing to see all of the things that I am allowing to create stress and worry in my life and then to see next to them the true owners of that task. What is most impressive is how many things belong to other people. Almost all of those worries seem to have rightful owners. I am only responsible for myself, my children, and my home. I don’t have to do anything else beyond that. 

This practice frees my mental space and my emotional labor so that I may focus on what is important in my life. Centering my life around me and my responsibilities quickly takes that sensation of being off-kilter away. It gives me firm footing and healthfully guides my energy and my choices. I can do one thing and I can focus on this place and its people. I don’t need to juggle the rest of the world’s problems, none of us do. We can all take on less to take care of ourselves. We deserve it.

How do you free yourself from that feeling of responsibility or oversight for others?

*If you’re looking for a more intense overhaul in your relationships and feel as if this one step is less than what you need, Co-Dependent No More by Melody Beatty is an excellent resource as you begin this journey.

Give Yourself the Gift of Joy

I am feeling peaceful and calm, gently aware of where I am in the world. I am meditating but the impact is less aggressive because I am not going right from meditation to writing. I have also eliminated my little chocolate treat post-meditation and I miss it. I enjoy a gentle reward after I reflect and bless my day with introspection. I have been enjoying this new home so much that I haven’t created much space yet for taking it all in. I have been making choices, organizing bins and objects. Transferring items from old packages into new and refreshing our belongings by eliminating those pieces that do not bring me joy. I mix a little of all theories here – Is an item useful? Is it beautiful? Does it bring me joy? If not, I remove it from my collection. Allowances are made for exercise equipment that is arguably useful but certainly does not bring me any particular joy. 

I also try to remember that holding on to something because it reminds me of someone is not a good reason to keep anything. I once read, “Throwing out a sweater from your grandmother is not throwing out your grandmother,” and that sentiment really resonated with me. Because I have so many possessions that were generously given but hold no real value for me. Obviously family heirlooms are kept or shared with someone else who will appreciate them more than I. Photograph collections are digitized or placed in albums for the next generation. But even I know holding on to images for the images sake does not serve me. If I have an image that brings me joy I save it – but images that meant something to someone else are not mine to hold and I set them free to be recycled or saved by someone else to whom they mean something.

I am also doing something different with this move. I am bringing all of my possessions of a similar category together so that I may see how much of these items I have collected over the years. It’s one thing to have pictures, shoes, or Christmas decorations housed in various closets and storage areas throughout your home – it’s another thing to see the growing pile of family photos take up half of a room. It really puts into perspective how easy and how much stuff we gather as we go and how sometimes it is ok to let these things go. For me, it is seeing the abundance of those possessions that makes the letting go easier. If I can clearly see that I have several cookie sheets, it’s a lot easier to get rid of the rusty ones – even if they were made by a fine manufacturer. 

Seeing all of my stuff together in one place has also given me the freedom to appreciate, compare and contrast. Do I love these table cloths? Or do I only love them for that one event I hosted several years ago that was a ton of fun but I have not used them since? And do I like this glassware or is it out because I don’t want to damage the really nice stuff – in which case, what am I waiting for? I have champagne flutes I absolutely adore. I refuse to take them out in case one of them breaks. Or I am waiting for the right celebration. Well, the special occasion is life. I’m done denying myself simple pleasures and so out go the cheap glasses I never really liked and in come the beautiful and elegant glasses that make me feel fancy and posh. 

I have also ordered stationery for our new home – I have christened our new home with a name. It suits the property and house. I have always wanted a house with a name and I am done waiting for someone else to name it. I love having a home with a title. I’m delighted by stationery and cannot wait to write my grocery lists on customized paper that has our property name at the top. It is a simple pleasure that thrills me and I am finally ready to give myself permission to live freely and as I want. I feel like deep down inside of me my inner child is dancing, singing, and wearing fairy wings and lots of sparkles. 

What a joy to be in a place in my life where I can give myself these simple gifts and pleasures. What a welcome moment to have finally reached, where I can savor and enjoy being alive without penalizing myself. I can make my own life nice without waiting for permission or approval. This knowledge in action is freeing and liberating. How simple it is to be kind to ourselves and how silly it is that we spend so much time denying ourselves the very things that will bring us the most happiness. 

What sweet little gifts have you given yourself lately? Are there any simple pleasures you enjoy that you have been denying yourself? What would happen if you gave yourself that small indulgence?