Central PA's LGBT News Source

Making Sense of Life

Who takes care of YOU?

By Dr. Terry Drew Kaaren
Posted 4/16/19

Is your life out of balance between what you give and what you receive? You know the old saying, “It’s better to give than it is to receive.” But the …

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Making Sense of Life

Who takes care of YOU?


Is your life out of balance between what you give and what you receive? You know the old saying, “It’s better to give than it is to receive.” But the statement is of little comfort when we’re the one who has been giving all day, we’re exhausted, and those around us are too self-absorbed to see all we might need is a hug or a few minutes of their time.

Some time ago I ran across a piece written by Michelle Goodman, a Seattle-based business journalist. Goodman listed five suggestions about how to avoid burnout. I used her ideas as a guide and developed the following list to insure self-care. I hope you’ll find useful in your own life.

  1. Weigh the payoff of every task.

We can prioritize our goals by spending ten minutes or less in the evening planning the following day. When morning arrives, do the tasks you’d rather avoid first. Ask yourself if working through the list is a chore or a joy. If it’s the former, take stock of what’s important to you.

  1. Learn to delegate.

Each member of our household excels at different, but very necessary tasks. No one is made to feel like they have to “to it all.” Be willing to let go of thinking it will only get done right if you do it.

  1. Rein in after-hours communications.

I use the following guide in returning messages:  Voicemail – 24-48 hours; Email – 12-24 hours; Text – Immediately to 12 hours. However, times for meals, meditation, family, play, and sleep need to be sacred. Anything else – barring a death of a loved one or some disaster – can wait. In other words, someone’s personal disaster doesn’t have to automatically become your emergency.

  1. Make time off non-negotiable.

I was annoyed a few years ago when I found out the campground I enjoy going to in the summer had added wireless Internet. Being disconnected was one of the advantages of being there. I thought, Now I’ll never get away! Then I found the most wonderful button on all my electronic devices. It’s called the “Power Off” switch.” Who knew?!? You may find it’s the most difficult button or app to manage on your device, but trust me when I tell you it’s well worth the trouble of learning how it works. Another way to avoid our devices is to leave them at home. Did you just go into a seizure at the mere thought? If so, you might want to contemplate that reaction.

  1. Leave some work on the table.

If your desk has to be totally clean before you leave work or you can’t wait till tomorrow to fold the towels in the dryer then listen up:  Get over it! Working yourself to the bone to maintain those kinds of requirements probably indicates a belief in a lack of time in your life. You may think you’ll never finish today’s work tomorrow because there will always be more to do and then you’ll be behind. If you have difficulty with abundance, for example, realize how feeling you “lack” time might be showing up in other areas of your life.

No one is going to take care of us better than ourselves. We must be willing to love ourselves the way we love others. We may be taking care of others without a thought, but we must begin taking better care of ourselves now. Self-care is not selfish. It’s self-loving. Take time for yourself. Guard it fiercely. You’re worth as much as the people you take care of … maybe more.

Terry is a speaker, licensed social worker and award-winning author. Find his blog at Central Voice online or on his website at: blog.terrydrewkaranen.com