When I take time for myself I feel guilty. I always feel like I should be doing more work or spending that time with my family. How can I overcome this?
Guilt is a common feeling for women, regardless if they work outside the home or not. As women, we often let guilt control what we do. We become controlled by what we are “supposed” to do, instead of embracing the fact that it’s okay to leave the vacuuming for another day so we can go for a run.
Brené Brown talks about guilt as the sense that I have done something wrong. For many women, the equation looks like this:
Therefore . . .
But what if the equation looked like this? How might that change the way we exist in the here and now?
Do you see the difference? Self-care needs to be included in what you should be doing. It is not a privilege. It is a necessity. For many women, every time they choose themselves over the laundry, the dishes, the kids, work, or their husbands, they feel guilty. But they should not feel this way.
Choosing yourself is not wrong. The longer you go without taking time for yourself, the more resentment will fester, exhaustion will set in and you will have nothing left to give – to anyone. Guilt has no place in the decision to take care of yourself.
If you struggle with feeling guilty, try these five steps:
The first step in eliminating feelings of guilt for investing in yourself is to give yourself permission. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It should be, but for many women it is not. We get so caught up in all of our other roles and responsibilities that we lose sight of our own needs and ourselves.
Tell your spouse, a friend or a colleague that you are feeling burned out and need some time for yourself, but are finding it difficult to embrace that because of other responsibilities. Ask if he or she will help keep you accountable for making time for your passions. You also might consider asking for help in evaluating where in your schedule you can create boundaries so that you don’t overwork or over-yes yourself.
Determine where in your schedule you can make time for yourself. Many women find that fringe hours, which are pockets of time that often go underused or wasted all together are perfect for practicing self-care. Common times that can be leveraged include early mornings, lunch breaks, times of waiting and evenings. Determine where you can capture fringe hours for yourself.
Now comes the hard part. Actually DOING the thing. Getting up early to have some quiet time to read and pray. Journaling while you wait for a meeting to begin. Saying no to an evening work meeting because you made plans to work out. Whatever you choose to do for you, the doing it can be the hardest part – especially if you are usually riddled with guilt for choosing yourself.
However, once we embrace investing in ourselves and begin to practice self-care, the benefits will quickly become apparent. When we recognize that honoring ourselves is critical to living a fulfilling life, we can begin to experience freedom in this practice.
The first time you choose yourself over another task, those feelings of guilt may creep in. You might think you made the wrong choice. But you didn’t. You just need more practice at choosing you.
So do it again and again and again until YOU become part of your lifestyle. Eventually, it will become normal. Your co-workers and family will see a difference. They will see the light of someone who is stewarding their gifts and talents joyfully. Embrace self-care and you will see a powerful, positive impact in every area of your life.
Jessica N. Turner is an award-winning marketing professional and author of the book The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You. She is also the founder of the popular lifestyle blog The Mom Creative, where she documents her pursuit of cultivating a life well-crafted. Additionally, she is a writer for HuffPost Parents and DaySpring's (in)courage, an advocate for World Vision and a regular speaker at blogging conferences nationwide. She and her husband, Matthew live with their three young children in Nashville, Tennessee.