Make Yourself a Priority

Each of us has special people in our lives that touch our hearts in ways others don’t. I have several people who surround me that fall in that category. One of those folks died this year. My heart dropped when I heard of her passing. She was the kind of person that affected many throughout her lifetime and her legacy will live on in the students she taught, the family that adored her, the many people whose lives she touched along the way, and to those, she never met, but benefitted from her kindness. Every day I witness something new in the way that people treat each other. Most of the time it’s done with kindness but every once in awhile, I see the ugly side of people’s demeanor and it can be a spectacle. It was because of her impression on my life, that I started to look inside and prioritize a few things.

This weekend gave me a chance to recharge my batteries. I took last Friday off work so that I could enjoy some time with a friend and unfortunately was forced to cancel due to a potential COVID scare. I have always enjoyed getting together with friends and my job makes it difficult to catch up with those I love because by the time we get off work, it’s already dark due to the daylight savings time and my energy level has been zapped for the day. By taking time off, it allowed me to do things I haven’t done in a while. That, my friends, was one of the best doses of medicine I could have taken.

The truth is that work is where a majority of us spend our days (or nights depending on what shift you work). We spend more time on our jobs than we do on our families and there has to be a balancing act. At some point, we have to take care of ourselves. Here are a few tips that I found that are helping me to stay on track and not get depleted.

1. Watch your language — Some of us can use a lot of profanity and it’s accepted. That doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing. Professionally it can be extremely damaging to use poor choices of words. I’m not saying that you won’t have periods of anger. We all have them. What I am saying is to think about the perception you are leaving behind. I’ll give you a prime example. I’ve made no secret that I’m a manager for a storage facility. When I was still an assistant manager, the place I was working had a moving company that was moving one of our clients into their unit. The movers used a lot of profanity. Children were in earshot. It’s a huge no-no to utilize profanity around children. Kids may already know the language that is used, but you are leading by example. If you show that it’s okay to be rude and disrespectful to others, that’s what they will repeat in their lifetimes.

2. Slow down —There are more pros than cons to this. When we allow ourselves to slow down, we tend to do better in all aspects of our lives. We might eat slower, which gives us more time to taste what we consume, we might slow down enough to hear what people are telling us, have healthier habits that are prone to better exercise and diet.

3. Be wary of social media— For many of us, this is a double-edged sword. This is one of the main ways that we keep up with each other, use social media for a profit, and keep communication as an on-going resource.

4. Make yourself a priority — I can’t stress this enough. No one is going to look out for your best interests more than you will. It seems that so many people want a piece of your time, your money, your space, and your possessions. Make decisions that will allow yourself to have a little bit of serenity. You are special and unique. Don’t allow the negativity around you to consume you. Embrace the things you enjoy doing and don’t apologize for doing the things that make you happy. Schedule a little block of time for yourself every day and if your friends don’t understand that you need a little time- well, let’s just say you might need a new set of friends.

5. Don’t skimp on sleep — In most research, experts say that adults usually need 7-8 hours of sleep. Yes, we can function on less but to maximize our abilities, getting the right amount of sleep can make all the difference in your day. There are enough things and issues in this world that drain our energies. Don’t make a lack of sleep one of them.

6. Treat yourself — Small indulgences are great. I’m not telling you to go out and spend money. But do the little things that make you happy. If you like to take long walks and haven’t had the time, make the time. If you want a special treat, make sure you save for it and indulge yourself. Moderation is a key factor. What matters is you acknowledge that you are worth something. If money is tight, why not create a wish list and fulfill it in stages? It could be like a small bucket list.

7. Discover the authentic “you” — It’s easy to create identities around our roles and/or the other people in our lives, but what happens when parents become empty nesters — or executives retire? Who are you? If you strip away the external definitions of yourself, what do you come up with? Exploring your own identity and values will help you nurture the best version of yourself. I think this is the hardest thing for any of us to define because our roles in life are consistently changing. Who we are one day is not who we will become or who we were. What matters is that we define what’s important to us and why. Then we can grow from there.

Over the next few days, I will be writing about things that I’m thankful for. But one of the main things I am truly thankful for is the opportunity to blog about issues that affect me and hope that others can relate to. I hope if you are feeling overwhelmed with COVID, holiday madness, and work stress, along with any other stresses, that you know you aren’t alone.

Being overextended, overscheduled, and overtired probably means that all the things you know would be good for you are the very things that get pushed to the back burner. The problem is, if they stay on the back burner, those same things can become depleted and unusable. Don’t wait until you are completely burned out to take care of you. We all need to listen to what our bodies and hearts tell us. Take the time to monitor yourself. If you are always going at a fast pace, sooner or later you will crash. Speed up when you need to but pace yourself and be smart about how you approach your life. You all have great minds. Use them to stay healthy and happy. Have a great day everyone!

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