So, what's up with that? How can we be encouraged to take time for our own needs while also calling it selfish? Lacking consideration for others? When I'm taking time for things I enjoy and time for self-renewal, I'm actually very much considering my children's needs. I know that in order for them to have a happy and healthy mom, I need to care for myself just as I care for their needs (and teach them to care for their needs, too!). And the sheer nature of calling caring for our own needs "selfish" just feels wrong. It makes me almost not want to tend to the pieces of my being that need attention.
Part of my job as mother means that I want to help my children be prepared to live fulfilling lives. I want them to learn how to care for their emotional health so they can cope well with challenges. I want my children to recognize when they need to reach out and ask for help. I want my children to understand there are resources and people in the world who will help them to be successful and happy and well. And in order to teach these lessons, I need to walk the walk. I need to show them that the world doesn't stop because I'm tending to my emotional needs and mental health. I can take a break from what I'm doing and the world will keep on turning.
Taking time for yourself doesn't have to happen infrequently, such as receiving a gifted massage on your birthday or taking an afternoon to hang with your girlfriends once every few months. Taking time should happen as often as you need to replenish your cup. And just as with food, if you're noticing that you're hungry soon after your meal, examine what you've eaten and if that's enough to sustain you. If your meal is a candy bar and soda, then you're going to find that you're hungry again soon after and will spend more time and maybe money refueling your body. Whereas if you had just eaten a healthy meal with lots of color and protein, you may find that you're able to tend to the tasks at hand more easily. If your idea of replenishing is staying up late to watch a movie but the next day you're dragging due to lack of sleep, maybe this isn't the best way to always reboot. Or if taking care of your needs is drinking more than your body can handle, you probably won't feel refreshed the next day. I'm not suggesting you should NEVER stay up late or throw back some drinks. But if this is your "me time", then maybe you should integrate in other ways to meet your needs.
Heading into nature is one of the simplest ways to nourish yourself. It can be as simple as sitting on your porch and noticing the trees around you. It can be going to the nearest hiking trails and walking in the woods for an hour. Sitting and being still and silent can also feel good. Notice your breathing, where your thoughts are going. Quiet any of the stress that comes your way when you start thinking of everything you could be doing instead. And just sit and be. This doesn't need to last hours or even minutes. Taking just ten to twenty seconds can give you that time to take some deep breaths deep into your belly and out again.
And lastly, think about what you'd suggest to your dearest friend if she told you that she was tired, overworked, stressed, too busy, etc. Then turn that around and gift yourself those same suggestions. Take a moment to really love and tend to your emotional needs and see how much better you are at coping with your daily stressors.