You’ve probably heard the saying “it’s better to give than to receive.” We learn this at an early age. And giving — helping others — is good, that’s true. It brings joy and happiness to others and ourselves. But why is it that giving can also be stressful and exhausting?
Maybe it’s because we haven’t learned to give to ourselves first.
So many of us are caretakers, either by choice or by default. This, along with our other daily responsibilities, can quickly deplete us. We get so busy and wrapped up in life that we neglect to check our “gauge.”
My Honda CRV has this awesome gauge for fuel. Not only does it show me a warning light when I’m low on fuel, it lets me know how many miles I have remaining before I hit empty. This is an outstanding feature for a car, and I found myself thinking, “I wish I had this feature on my body.”
But then, maybe I do.
One day, I felt like I was running low on fuel — energy — but was pretty sure I still had some left in the tank. And then, it just happened: BOOM! I was empty, completely and absolutely depleted. You know the feeling.
How did this happen? I thought. Well, the truth is, I wasn’t heeding the many warning signs from my handy “gauge.”
Thinking back, I realized I had been experiencing restless sleep, feeling agitated, falling behind on my to-do’s, missing workouts, failing to run, and falling into obscure eating habits — just to name a few. My body is my built-in gauge, and I wasn’t listening to it. I was caught up in the cycle of “give, give, give, go, go, go,” without checking in with myself, so it’s no wonder I hit a wall.
Just like our cars, which we rely on for so much, refueling is necessary for our bodies, too. Think about it — you rely on your body, your whole body, from brain to feet, to keep you moving forward every day. But you can’t give to others when your own gauge is on empty.
Now, fueling your body isn’t all about nutrition. It’s also about providing yourself with the mental, spiritual, and physical energy needed to keep moving. So now you’re thinking, “Ok, Deb, just how do I do this?”
I suggest first and foremost…
1) Don’t feel guilty.
Realizing that you need to take care of you doesn’t make you selfish or self-centered. It only means you realize that you are better and stronger when your tank is full — mind, body, and soul.
2) Don’t be afraid to say “no,” or even “yes,” for that matter!
Don’t be afraid to say no to social events or tasks that you don’t have the energy to take on. Or, if someone notices your fatigue and offers to take it on for you — don’t be afraid to say yes! In fact, never, ever be afraid to ask for help!
3) Schedule appointments for yourself.
Whether it’s your workout, a massage, a trip to the salon, a leisurely walk, reading, or enjoying a nice meal, schedule this time for yourself and then take it.
4) Be positive.
When your energy levels are running low, things can naturally start to feel negative. You can easily combat this with changing the direction of your thoughts. Try to think positively, and I promise you’ll give yourself a little boost.
5) Resist FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
With social media and all our methods of instant communication these days, the Fear of Missing Out can be difficult. When we see pictures of an event or activity that we passed up on in order to take care of ourselves, it can make us feel insecure, like we’re missing out on something great or important. But guess what? Your alone time, your refueling time is just as important.
6) Be honest.
Don’t be afraid to tell others exactly why you can’t do something. Be honest with the people in your life about your self-care needs. And, just as important: Be honest with yourself.
7) Don’t wait until you’re on empty to refuel.
Absolutely do not wait until your body is on empty to refuel and take care of yourself. You don’t wait until your car is on empty — because then you’d be on the side of the highway, sore out of luck. In the same way, be mindful of where your own “gauge” is at all times. Instead of waiting until you feel low, top yourself off every day!
If you need help learning to take care of your whole self, explore our website at DFT-STL.com and check out all the ways we can support your self-care. Our group training and nutrition programs are fantastic options for taking care of your body and health within a welcoming, supportive group of women.
Give us a call at 314.932.7747 to set up a FREE consultation with a Dragonfly coach or fill out the form right here.