Those of us who are married often think about growing old with our partners. We think about the adventures and experiences we want to share. We think about children who will complete our family. Family time and date nights are encouraged to strengthen family and marital bonds. We are advised never to go to bed angry and to enjoy every day we have together.
These sentiments are wonderful and certainly spending time with loved ones can be fulfilling. What is spoken about less though is, the need to take care of ourselves and to prioritize our needs over our partner and children. In our society, it can be perceived as taboo to say that we are taking care of our needs over our family members. Aren’t mothers and fathers supposed to sacrifice everything for their children and each other? There is often hesitation and shame in voicing this need for the fear of being judged. This is true even more so for women who are often raised to take care everyone around them before they take care of themselves.
The problem is that when we are constantly prioritizing others, we get burned out emotionally, physically and even financially. We take the amount of energy that our bodies provide us to function for the day and exert it on others. When the day is over, there is nothing left. This can cause resentment, anxiety, depression and anger. When we give more than we receive consistently throughout a period of time, it affects the quality or our relationships.
The best advice for relationships, new and old, should include taking time for ourselves and making sure that our needs are met in addition to spending time with loved ones. This is often easier said than done. Here are four self- care tips to help you be your best in your relationships:
1. Schedule alone time
Spending time alone not only allows you to refuel and rejuvenate, but it also gives you the space to check in with yourself and take inventory. This time can help you reflect on the areas where you are feeling stretched and what changes you need to make. It is so common for us to go through our daily routine without realizing the impact it is having on our stress levels.
2. Do what makes you feel good
It is common to hear advice like go to the gym or get your hair done listed as examples of self-care. But for many people these activities aren’t fun, they are part of what we need to do to maintain our health and appearance. Think about what gives you joy. Painting? Hiking? Lying in bed watching movies? Do what makes you happy and when you return to your family this happiness will carry over.
3. Ask for help
There are so many reasons people avoid asking for help. Perfectionism, pride, and fear of rejection can make it difficult to reach out to others. But asking for help or delegating your responsibilities to other capable people, lightens your load. You are sending the message to yourself and others that you deserve to be taken care of just as much as you take care of others.
4. Set boundaries
An often-overlooked type of self-care is setting boundaries and saying “no”. It can be so hard to say no, especially to people close to you. It is hard to accept that you may be letting people down when you are taking care of yourself. When you look at the big picture though, setting that boundary actually helps that relationship. When you agree to something against your better judgment, it often ends in resentment towards the person you are helping. By saying no, you are staying authentic in your relationship.