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Why self-care should be your top priority

Think back through this past week’s schedule. How much time did you devote to your own self-care? I am not talking about taking a shower, getting ready for work in the morning, eating, or brushing your teeth. I am talking about setting aside dedicated time to focus on the things that fill your heart with joy. Do you remember what it is like to pick up a book and enjoy it so much that you didn’t want to put it down? Do you know what it feels like to go for a run or a walk just for fun, not as a means to simply get to that next pressing meeting? Do you remember what it feels like to want to try new things, a foreign language or musical instrument, and the feeling of pride that comes along with each new milestone you achieve?

My wake up call

For 13 years, I held the CEO position at a children’s health museum. I worked long stressful hours to ensure we had the funding needed and the best programming to make health fun for kids. I spent hours in meetings only to return home at the end of the day, ensure my child was taken care of, and then log back onto my computer to try to tick away at the ever-growing to-do list. When it came time to focus on myself, I was too exhausted and worn down to even think about anything other than sleep. Not only was it affecting my health and wellbeing, but it was impacting my son’s as well. I thought he would be so excited about me building a children’s museum, but instead, he saw how much of my time was devoted to getting it built and how much of that time was taken from him.

Why finding time for self-care is important

I finally realized two very important things about finding time to focus on yourself. The first is that self-care is not selfish. Remember what the flight attendant says before take off? Put your mask on first BEFORE assisting others. They say this because there is precious little time to get oxygen flowing before you completely blackout and are no good to anyone. Ensuring that you make time to take care of your body, mind, and spirit helps you to be the best that you can be for yourself and others. There might be a few of us who need to read that last sentence again.

The “I don’t have time” excuse

The second is that you do have time. You are just choosing to fill your time with other things. You do not need hours of free time to focus on self-care. In fact, you only need minutes. Ten minutes to be exact. If you can’t find 10 minutes in a day to focus on something you really want for yourself, there is something very wrong with your schedule. At the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to run 10 minutes a day. It didn’t matter what time of day. My goal was simply to give myself permission to lace up my sneakers and spend 10 minutes running. Not only do I solve many of my most pressing problems while I run, but I feel productive when I am finished. You can check out my last blog post if you want to understand more about the things I ruminate on while running. It not only gives me time to think through challenges, but it is making me healthier. Studies show that adding just 10 minutes of exercise a day is enough to improve your health. Don’t believe me, check this out. Now running might not be your thing and that’s ok. Find out what is your thing. Running 10 minutes a day became part of my daily routine. I craved it. So, I added my next 10 minutes of self-care. I started to read 10 minutes every night before I went to bed. I went from reading only one book, the entire year, in 2021 to reading three in the first two months of 2022.

10 minutes to anything

So what are you waiting for? Find your thing! The thing that fills you with energy, peace, or joy. Start setting aside 10 minutes each day to complete it. It definitely helps to schedule it on your calendar until it becomes routine. Once it becomes routine think about adding another 10 minutes to your schedule with anything that fills you up. Focus on taking care of yourself so you can be the best that you can be for yourself and others.