Some weeks are predictable and manageable. There’s enough time to calmly and planfully do everything that needs to be done for others and for myself.
Others are more challenging, complete with looming deadlines or unexpected, demands on my time and energy. It’s easy to find myself skipping some important aspects of my own self-care in my effort to keep up with everything.
And then there are those full-on crazy-busy weeks. You know what those are like. They’re the kind where “I don’t know how I’m going to do this,” is a constant background refrain as I scramble to keep up. Or the kind where a frightening emergency arises, overshadowing everything else. If I think of self-care at all in weeks like this, it’s fleetingly and with a feeling of guilt for not attending to it.
The thing is, the challenging and crazy-busy weeks can pile up on one another with no break in sight. This is really when I need my self-care the very most and when I’m most prone to dropping it.
Knowing that, and knowing I’m facing a week that verges on the crazy-busy, I remember what I can do to prioritize self-care in the midst of it all.
Why Worry About Self-Care When You’re That Busy?
Why pay attention to self-care during such a busy time? Because someone has to do all those things entered into the week’s calendar, and handle the other things that crop up. That someone is me. If I get tense and overwhelmed, I’m not going to be or do my best. And if this level of busyness goes on for weeks at a time, eventually something will force me to slow down, and that’s usually something unpleasant. An injury, an illness, or burnout complete with loss of motivation and energy.
I deserve better than that. Taking care of myself, even when I have the least time for it is important for me and for those around me. Prioritizing self-care even when time for it is hard to come by strengthens the resilience I call upon to be effective, persistent and present for myself and for others.
The key to this is being flexible about what I do and when I do it. These are some of the ideas work for me. I make sure to do at least one or two of them every day, even when things are really crazy. See if any of them might work for you.
Five Ways to Make It Through a Crazy-Busy Week
- Remember to breathe. Take every opportunity to sit quietly, breathing in fully and deeply, and then breathing out slowly and completely. Repeat this three or more times, keeping your attention on the breathe as you inhale and exhale.
- Practice self-compassion. Write down three self-compassionate affirmations and repeat them to yourself. You can use these on their own, or in combination with deep breathing. Here’s a few examples: Each day I focus on what matters most; All will be well; I care for myself with the same nurturing kindness I share with a beloved friend; There is enough time to do what is most important.
- Notice and accept your emotions.Try the Six A’s of Mindful Writing to compassionately and honestly express your emotions, spending just one minute on each writing prompt. Take another minute to read over what you wrote and see what you can learn from your these emotions.
- Move Your Body.Take advantage of natural opportunities throughout the day to get a little exercise: climbing stairs, walking the dog, doing brief chore in your home or yard. If there’s no time for your usual 1-hour workout, be proud of yourself for fitting in a 20-minute walk, or 10 minutes of yoga poses, or a half-hour jog or bike ride.
- Choose something to say “no” to. Can someone attend a meeting in your place? Can you reschedule an appointment? Get an extension on a deadline? Can you turn down yet one more request for your time by saying, “I’m sorry but I have to say no. My plate is just too full right now.”
What Others Are Saying
Susan Preston writes about our commitment to ourselves, and about saying “yes” to what brings joy and other great ways to make it through a challenging week.
Kelly Indra Inselmann comments on dealing with uncertainty, which is so often a major part of the stress when difficult events unexpectedly create a really tough week.