Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we’re superhuman. We carry the weight of our worlds onto our shoulders expecting to do it all, know it all, and solve it all. We lead busy lives taking care of kids, working one or more jobs, volunteering our time, shuttling kids to practices, and otherwise creating a good life for ourselves and our families. “More” is the key word for our generation (and in particular for mid-lifers of 45 to 55 year olds like us) who are still in building mode, and for whom retirement is not on the horizon. We’re still wanting more and expecting more of ourselves. When reality hits and we recognize that we don’t meet those impossible expectations, we become disappointed and frustrated with ourselves.
This week is a reminder to be good to yourself, and to do it often! When you need a reality adjustment, assume these attitudes for a healthier and happier you:
Give yourself time to recharge. Chill by yourself or with your family doing something you enjoy. Call it your “mental health day,” when you let your responsibilities and obligations sit unattended. If they can’t be left unattended, then ask someone else to take care of them for you. Whether with family or at work, we can all learn to delegate more.
We love Cheryl Crow’s line from her Soak Up the Sun song, “It’s not having what you want; it’s wanting what you’ve got.” In the pursuit of more, we forget to enjoy what we have. Look around you and take note of all the wonderful things you have in your life from family, friends, your health, your home and so on.
In particular, look at yourself and appreciate what is best about you. What do you like about yourself? What makes you unique and precious? Make a list and pull it out every time you need a reminder.
Accept Only the Best
You deserve to be respected and honored. Get rid of toxic relationships that bring you down, and spend more time with people who support you and are aligned with your values. Don’t be afraid to let go of unhealthy relationships as doing so will give you time to spend on building better ones.
Positive relationships are mutual, where people give and receive in support of each other. Reach out to others who you want in your life. Just as plants are attracted to light, humans are naturally attracted to the positive. Be positive and you will attract other positive people around you.
Keep Fit and Eat Well
“I’m overwhelmed by the strength of my body and the power of my mind. For one moment, just one second, I feel immortal.”
Diana Nyad, American author, journalist and long-distance swimmer
Exercise and eating nutritious food give you the energy you need for a busy and active lifestyle. Find what works for you and stick with it. As Diana Nyad’s quote shows, exercise gives you strength and power. Besides the additional energy, exercise may also positively influence your self-esteem (1). Getting all the nutrients you need through healthy food may ward off diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers (2). So, both you and your family benefit when you take care of yourself!
Forgive Yourself and Move On
There are times when we dwell on a mistake made, a botched confrontation, or a fault we see in ourselves. Fix it if you can; own up to it if it’s your mistake; understand your intentions and actions in the particular case. Learn from the experience and put it into the past so you can move on.
Family, friends, and coworkers see all of you — the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly — and are typically more forgiving than you of your momentary lapses in action or emotion. Be kind to yourself the next time you screw up.
The list of ways to be good to yourself is endless. We want to hear from you about what you do to be good to yourself. Please share your comments below so we can all learn from each other.
- Weinberg, R.S. and Gould, D., Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5th Edition, Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2011, p. 43
- Sizer, F. and Whitney, E., Nutrition Concepts & Controversies, 12th Edition, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2011.