As parents, we spend our days worrying about and taking care of those around us. But when was the last time that you thought about the one piece that connects the rest of the puzzle— yourself? 

We’ve all heard the saying a million times: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” And oh my, how that is true. But the truth is that despite knowing this, many of us continue to try to keep pouring, day in and day out. You give to your family, to your patients, to your students— to everyone but yourself. And giving all the time is certainly doable, but only for a finite amount of time before it starts to affect you negatively. 

If you haven’t reached it yet, there will come a point where you just can’t give anymore without some sacrifice on your part. This may come in the form of over-eating, under-eating, trouble sleeping, decreased patience, or increased irritability— the list goes on and on.There is only so long that you can ignore yourself before the foundation begins to crack. 

And once those cracks begin to show, they will build upon one another, eventually leading to a point where it becomes much more difficult to patch it all up again. This is why it’s so important to take time to focus on you right now, before life gets in the way even more. There will always be others to take care of and people who need you. But the time is now to patch up the little cracks, making your foundation strong again so that you have something left to give to others. 

Think about you. Fill your own cup. Put on your oxygen mask first. You have permission to take time for yourself to refill your cup. You have permission to truly take time for yourself— not use your solo time to run errands for your family. Even if it’s only 10 minutes per day, you deserve your own space, your own thoughts, and your own goals. Whether you want to work on your fitness or you just want some quiet time to think, know that you’re not hurting anyone by doing that for yourself. In fact, you are helping others by doing so. By taking the time to fill your own cup, you are renewing your energy stores and giving yourself the opportunity to present a more energetic and peaceful version of you to those around you. And don’t they deserve this version of you too? 

Remember: you are only able to give your best to others if you give your best to yourself. If you are run down, exhausted, and stretched to your limits, the version of yourself that you give to others is not complete. You’re giving them the pieces that are left, not the whole incredible package. By focusing on yourself, even just for 10 minutes per day, you can provide so much more to those around you. It is not selfish to take care of yourself— it is necessary. 

So what can you do for your “you” time? It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive, or even involve going anywhere outside of your home. You could go for a walk, read a few pages of a book, meditate, do some yoga, listen to your favorite podcast, or soak in a bath. You can exercise, stand up and stretch, paint your nails, bake some bread, or simply lie down in a quiet room. Whatever you do, remember that it’s for you. Be present, be peaceful, and try to make it a regular practice. Start off with a goal of 10 minutes per day that are strictly for you. Schedule it if you have to. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, a mid-day meditation, or a few minutes before you go to bed, give yourself the gift of that focused time, so that you are better able to take care of yourself and those around you. 

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