Tend To Your Own Wellbeing
One conversation I have had with many clients in recent weeks relates to the seemingly increasing distress felt by many, especially parents, around taking time to train or engage in relaxing, rejuvenating activities. The running theme? a pang of guilt associated with taking time out for oneself, as though this was somehow self indulgent, opulent or hedonistic.
Tending to your own wellbeing is none of those things. You should feel no guilt or remorse for engaging in activities that restore or maintain your wellbeing, wether physical or mental. In fact, to give your best to someone else, like a child or partner, being at your best is requisite.
You cannot poor from an empty cup.
Cliche, I know. But as with most Cliche’s, truth lies within. Giving of oneself for others can be meaningful, emotionally rewarding, and enjoyable. Leading to a sense of purpose, achievement and even genuine satisfaction. But it can also be very hard, draining, thankless and lead to fatigue, burn out, and even resentment. Just ask any parent and they will tell you how, paradoxical as it may sound, parenting is all of the above.
If you allow your obligations, commitments and objectives around others to drain you, you do those people no service in the long run. Sure, you might be there for them here and now. But as you gradually ware yourself down, having less and less energy, tolerance, attention and compassion, you will be able to give less and less. Eventually, you may be so diminished that you not only have little useful support left to give, but need a significant amount yourself.
The price is often greater than the gain.
In fact, something that I observe frequently among clients who are parents is that they have given so much to the task at hand, that they are now chronically tired, irritable, struggling with weight, frequently ill and increasingly dissatisfied with life. Is there really anything noble about this progression? In fact, the price you pay for not taking care of yourself is often far greater than the perceived gain.
Your fuse will be short, playtime efforts lacklustre, your relationship with your significant other tense and your attention and energy at work (and therefore performance) significantly reduced. You push through hardship, taking no breaks or time to recover, no time for oneself, no selfish, personal space occupied by simply whatever you like. And the result is that you put in more time, but every moment is less engaged, less rewarding, lower quality than it could be.
Given a choice. I am willing to bet that those other parties, be it your employer, your spouse, or your kids, would rather have a little less time of your best self, than all the time with your drained, tired self.
To give well, you must be well.
If giving the best you possibly can to those who need it from you is on your agenda, tend to your own wellbeing first. Get rest, get exercise, make space for the things that bring you joy. Feel deserving of these things, not guilty about them. Know that indulging in joyful activities for your own sake is doing right by those you seek to serve. At least to a point.
Acutely, as I have argued, feeling better through recovery, exercise, or respite is beneficial to those you seek to serve because of better mood, energy and so forth. On a longer time scale, your wellness could literally mean that those close to you get to enjoy you for longer. By tending to your wellness now, you protect your wellness in the future.
Sacrificing your company for a few hours per week in exchange for a happy, engaged, energetic, available version of you the rest of the time, is a good deal. One far better than having a tired, bitter, resentful, worn down version of you all the time!
It is your duty to those obligated to be around you, to tend to your wellbeing.
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Article By Pete Edwards. ASCC.