How to Take Care of Yourself, When You Feel Like You Don’t Deserve to

Adulting, Author: Mary Grace Donaldson

There’s no doubt about it, millennials — self-care is important.

We all live busy lives. From our full-time jobs to our side hustles to friendships and dating and relationships and just the everyday business of being an adult… it’s difficult to make time for ourselves. We’re on call a lot — for our jobs, for our friends, for our families. Even when it seems as though you just might get to take time for yourself, your “you time” that you so cleverly scheduled out gets pushed to the side in favor of something that is just more urgent.

But what happens when you can’t get out of your head? You know you need a break and you just can’t allow yourself the opportunity… why? Why does this happen?

You’re afraid something bad is going to happen
For those who are highly sensitive or experience anxiety, it’s the norm to feel as though the sky is falling on a semi-constant basis, and to feel as though you’re the only one who can stop it from falling. Everything seems to be a crisis. You’re scared to unplug, because if you unplug, that could be the moment when everything falls down. And what if you’re blamed for it?

You compare yourself to others
“So-and-so works more hours than I do and he/she doesn’t ever get a break. What a wuss I am that I feel like I need a break.”

“So-and-so takes care of this and that outside of work. Who am I to feel overwhelmed?” 

Does this sound like you? Thought so. Everyone’s threshold for stress is different, depending on life circumstances past and present. If you need a break, you’re allowed to need it in spite of the fact that your mother/father/significant other/brother/sister/best friend isn’t getting one anytime soon.

You lack time management skills
Part of taking a break is knowing when you can take one. Sometimes it’s just not possible, and sometimes that urgent work call will come and you just can’t ignore it. But if you plan for your break, you’ll be able to give those who depend on you fair warning. And especially if you’re one of those “sky is falling” types, you’ll feel better and enjoy the time away even more knowing that someone else has your back.

So, how can you take a break, even when you feel like you just can’t/don’t/won’t (but desperately need one)?

Book a vacation
We have PTO for a reason, millennials. Get away. Change your scenery. Go somewhere you’ve never visited before, or head back to an old standby where you know you’ll feel at home — even though you’re away from home. It’s important to get away from the real world sometimes, and to go somewhere you can just relax or explore — whichever makes you happiest.

Yes, you’re allowed to do this! Unless you’re in very specified professions or in the middle of an important project, you can put that phone away at 10 p.m. It will do you a world of good to just turn it off. As much as in today’s day and age it may feel like it, you don’t need to be plugged in 24/7. Whatever you miss, it probably won’t be that important that it can’t wait a little bit.

Go for a ride
Don’t have anywhere specific in mind. Just get behind the wheel, and go. Even if it’s just for a short while, sometimes, there’s no sanctuary quite like the car. You’re on your own, you can take those turns at slightly faster paces than you would normally, and basically — you’re in control of your destiny when you’re just not going anywhere. Not to mention those solo car concerts you can have are often the most fun.

Remind yourself it’s okay… or, have a trusted friend or family member remind you
Even if you have to write it out 100 times. Even if you just need to go to someone you trust to have that person remind you that it’s okay. Even if you have to distract yourself from the thoughts that tell you that it’s not okay. Even if you need to talk it out with someone for an extended period of time.

And remind yourself that…
… there is no reason to feel as though you’re either indispensable, or that you can’t possibly take a break because it wouldn’t be fair to so-and-so who is more overwhelmed than you are. Your need for self-care is your own, and no one else’s. It’s not dictated by your family, friends, colleagues, or even those people you don’t particularly care for. Your need is real, and you deserve to take care of yourself.

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