Self-care in divorce is important

Unplug without Guilt

I was recently reminded by a friend about the importance of “unplugging” from those things that tend to zap our energy and leave us drained. The trick is to unplug without guilt. Can you do that? It’s one of the hardest things for women.

My friend told me about her weekend and how she was really tired from a busy week and there were so many things she needed to catch up on over the weekend that she had no time to rest. She said she felt “guilty” about taking time for herself.

Guilt is a trap

WOW … that word brought back a powerful déjà vu moment for me … she was my mother all over again. My mom would run herself ragged to get things done and, when she sat down to rest for a bit the guilt that there were still things left to do literally propelled her to get out of the chair and get them done. My mom was one of those people who never learned how to relax without feeling guilty. There was always someone depending on her for something and she felt compelled to do it before she could take time to take care of herself.

You may have heard me say this before: In my humble opinion, taking care of ourselves first is not optional — it’s necessary — if we are going to have enough to give to those who depend on us. I guess this is so important to me personally because of what I saw my mother do to herself … and I choose not to do it the same way. I also choose to share this lesson with my clients and the women I mentor. And, now with you.

I learned that guilt is a useless emotion … it traps us and causes us to make choices that are not healthy. My mom felt so much guilt about taking care of herself that she just kept going until she got sick or until she was so exhausted her body wouldn’t let her do one more thing. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It’s not how I want to be.  Do you?

How do you want to feel instead?

I want to be well — full of energy and fully present when I’m supporting someone else. Whether it’s a simple favor that requires my time, a more complex situation that deserves my complete attention or an urgent, unexpected event that will create drama and tap into deep emotions, I want to be ready and able to be at my best.

There is only one way I know of to ensure that at all times. (Well, let’s be honest—at most times. No one is perfect and honors themselves first all of the time — me included.)

I’m talking about spending time each and every day doing things that “fill your cup.”

I love this analogy. Think of a beautiful tea cup and saucer. When you do things that replenish your soul, recharge your battery and give you energy to be at your best, you are filling your cup. The more you do this, the more your cup fills.

Imagine that you get so good at taking care of you that your cup starts to overflow into the saucer. Now imagine that, when others need you, you give to them from your overflow. Your cup is always nearly full and you are always ready, willing and able to lovingly help your partner, your children, your family and your friends at a moment’s notice.

How does that feel? When you feel this full, there is no guilt that there are things on your To-Do List because you will have the energy to get them done when you’re feeling at your best. You will do a better job at those things on your list. You will be in a better, more centered place when the people who depend on you need to ask for something from you.

Make purposeful choices

There is no reason to feel guilt when you sit quietly and make purposeful choices about what is critical to do right now and what can wait for a bit.

I’m a big list maker—that I got from my mom. I make lists for everything — To-Dos for my weekend; errands for the week; things to pack for a trip; calls that need to be made; questions I want to ask my doctor. There are lots of lists in my house.

And I’ve learned to be an honest priority setter. What is “most important” gets done soonest. If there is something on my list that someone else can help me with or can do on their own, I ask for their help. If there is something that can easily wait till tomorrow or the next day or the next weekend, I postpone that and move it to another list.

The whole objective in all this is to carve out some time for me to relax and regroup. I recharge best when I’m doing something “mindless” — I love to crochet and, as long as it’s not a complex project, this does the trick for me. I’m passionate about designing floral arrangements — this makes time stand still. I love gardening. Funny movies are the ticket sometimes. Playing with my fur-babies takes my mind off almost any worry because I get so much back from them — their unconditional love works wonders. I also love to sit in the hot tub and just relax with a glass of wine. Sometimes I meditate. I do some stretching and yoga. I like to walk. I like to write in my journal. And, I love to sleep when I’m tired. These are just some things that work for me. And I use at least one of them every day. Purposeful choices. Powerful results.

Start your list

So, what works for you? I invite you to make a list of all the things you could do that replenish your energy, quiet your mind and make you laugh. If you haven’t taken this self-care thing seriously up till now, give it a try.

Don’t let anyone or anything make you feel guilt because you’re taking time for you. It’s your right to take care of yourself. In fact, I believe it’s your responsibility. No one else can take care of you like you can. Only you really know what you need and when you need it.

So, be kind to yourself … be patient, because new habits take a bit of time to take hold. And don’t give up on yourself. You deserve to be at your best. You deserve to feel full of joy and energy … and when your cup is full to overflowing, that’s what you’ll feel!  

What could be better than that?  The only thing I can think of is this:  when you feel full of joy and energy, you will radiate a special glow, which others will see and feel.  When you are radiating joy, it will rub off on those around you.  Imagine that you are the reason that others feel joy!  Now — that’s good stuff!

I hope these stories and tips help you to take better care of you.

If you’re a divorced, professional woman and would like to share your thoughts and experience with like-minded women, about self-care or any other subject, I invite you to look into my exclusive Facebook group, Thrive after Divorce: Your Journey Begins. It’s all about getting the support we need to be our best.  We’d love to have you join us.

Till next time, sending you warm {{{hugs}}}.

Maria Signature

 

Life Transition Coach & Mentor for Women | Specialty: Divorce Recovery

SafeHarbor Coaching |Where women create the fulfilling life they deserve


If you’re struggling after divorce, download my free book: 
5 Practical Choices Divorced Women Can Make to Reduce isolation, Re-energize your life and Return you to Balance” so you can feel inspired to take the first steps forward.

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About The Author

María Tomás-Keegan

María is a certified Life Transitions Coach and Mentor for Women, specializing in Divorce Recovery. She brings her multi-faceted 20+ year corporate experience as a coach, mentor, consultant and marketing manager to bear in her coaching practice. Her specialty is working with professional women who put on a mask every day pretending they're okay, while deep inside they're not. María's programs and coaching techniques help women get back in touch with their true self so they can live their lives by design, rather than by default. María is founder and "Chief Inspiration Officer" at SafeHarbor Coaching, LLC.

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