It was 9:00 at night last Wednesday. I recently had just gotten home from meeting with my accountant. It had been a long day, and I was stressed out to the max. I had an ungodly amount of things to get accomplshed for the next morning, including a report due for my counseling graduate class and a blog campaign that I promised myself I’d get a head start on. In addition, my house was a mess, I had a head-splitting migraine, and I still needed to pack my lunch for tomorrow. Stress.

I plopped down at the kitchen table and stared at my to-do list. If I still had things to do and it was already 9pm, would I be able to get it all done? My head was pounding from the migraine, and I couldn’t think straight. Well, I thought to myself, I should pour myself a cup of coffee, get some aspirin. and get at it.

Instead, I poured myself a glass of wine and turned on Grey’s Anatomy, falling asleep within 10 minutes.

And you know what? The world kept spinning.

Burn Out

Do you ever feel burnt out? If you say no, then you are lying. At some point in our lives, we all take on more than we can handle. How we deal with this exhaustion can either teach us a lesson for the future, or shape bad habits that will continue to burn us out, ultimately leading us to neglect our self-care.

I am guilty of repeatedly putting others’ needs before mine. I’m the type of girl who would rather disappoint myself than others. Even if I have to suffer through a commitment that I have no desire to perform, it is SO much easier for me to tell people “yes” than “no.” A few months ago I wrote in this post that I am a people pleaser. Although I work on this aspect of myself every single day, it is still very hard for me to put myself first.

Lately, I’ve been extremely burnt out because of the commitments I’ve been promising to others. Extra commitments for my grad program; social commitments; work commitments. I’ve been over-committing myself to too many things that my schedule can handle at the moment. So many extra commitments that it has become hard for me to put first things first and accomplish what needs to be done. When I think about cutting back and telling people that I can no longer help them out, I feel like a ton of bricks is slowly suffocating me. My anxiety goes through the roof; I honestly wish it wasn’t this way, but it is. Just cut back on some things, I tell myself. It’s an easy solution! Unfortunately for people who suffer from this mentality, the reality is that it really isn’t that easy.

Putting First Things First

The first step in the solution is realizing that sometimes, putting yourself first means putting FIRST things FIRST.

There have been so many instances lately where I have learned the hard way that I must put first things first. The other night I didn’t finish my homework that was due the following morning because I was out with friends. I suffered the consequences of feeling like an unprepared idiot in my class, which is not acceptable at the graduate level. I find it hard to say no to social activities because I don’t want others to think that I don’t care about them, but then my own needs get walked all over.

The reality is that really, I am being entirely selfish. Quite honestly, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t follow through on a personal commitment. If I miss a Bachelor wine night because I need to catch up on my work, my friends WILL understand. And quite frankly, if they don’t, I’m not so sure if I want them in my life to begin with.  It’s time to start honoring my own commitments to myself.  Would I ever cancel on somebody else? Probably not. But I do it to myself all of the time.

Knowing When to Take a Break

Even in the midst of when your to-do list is a mile long, it’s important to remember that sometimes, you just need to take a break. Self-care is imperative, especially in this hectic world where it seems we are always rushing around. For example, I haven’t been sleeping that much this week, and I can tell that it is affecting various aspects of my life. I am easily irritable, I am gaining weight from an increase in appetite, and I nearly dozed off driving home from school in broad daylight. NOT GOOD! If your body is telling you that you need a break, TAKE ONE! Baby steps: I purposely didn’t work out today and instead took a nap. I knew that sleep would help my body more than a workout would at that point.

Putting yourself first means not letting societal pressures get to you. Society is constantly screaming in our ears, stay busy! Hurry! Get your stuff done! Do this! Do that! The busier, the better! Team No Sleep! I find this philosophy of life so troubling, and I’m personally working on advocating for changing the stigma. We shouldn’t be bragging about our lack of sleep. Rest is needed in order for us to function properly.

My challenge for you this week: Find contentment in the word rest. Be still with it. Notice if you find yourself associating with it negatively or positively. What is your relationship with rest? Once you start taking better care of yourself, things will fall into place.

Do you have trouble putting yourself first? Leave me a comment below if so!

Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you don’t care about others. It means you’re smart enough to know you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first.”
— Unknown Author

Photo by Haylee Helmle