I see so many parents, teachers, and music therapists who are crashing and burning because they are overworked, stressed out, and have so many people depending on them. You end up missing responsibilities and appointments or get sick. Either way, you can’t take care of the people or things that you need to if you are not taking care of yourself. I hear many parents complain, “I don’t have time!” and it’s hard to find the time for yourself when your child or job has so many needs. But you have to make yourself a priority–this is not being selfish. It is making sure that you are capable of living up to your responsibilities and day-to-day tasks. While going to a spa or taking a week off may be impossible, there are simple and quick ways to take care of yourself so that you don’t crash and burn.
♫ Tune in – your body gives you messages. Listen to them. You need to sleep, so make sure that you have time to get sleep. Ask for help if you need to so that you can get some sleep. For a quick rejuvenation, take some deep breaths and clear your mind. You can do this at any time and for any length of time, so breath, and make your sleep a priority. If you have thoughts or ideas or things on your mental “to do” list that are overwhelming you, take 5 minutes to write them down. Don’t obsess about how to write the list or how to prioritize, just write the list. Then once your ideas or tasks are on paper, you don’t have to keep them in your head. Identify the top five priorities and schedule time to accomplish them or make progress on them in your calendar. Pick some soothing music to listen to while you work on those tasks to help you stay focused and pour a glass of water to drink (water is essential, so drink up!). Only work on one thing at time for a set period of time. If you don’t finish within that time, then schedule another block of time on your calendar to continue.
♫ Tune up – Be sure to take breaks, ideally 15 minutes each hour. You are more productive when you take breaks rather than working straight through for several hours. Get up and move, change out your music, refill your water and see if you need a snack. If you are caring for a child, your child needs down time, too, so give her a quiet time break by dimming the lights, decreasing the stimulation in the room, and take a break for yourself too! Don’t use this time to get something done–you need a break.
♫ Tune out – Perfectionism tends to be what makes us push ourselves too hard or put things off (if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all). Get rid of perfectionism and go for progress or “good enough”. What does it matter if things are “perfect” if you are too tired or sick to enjoy them? Or if your ideas or projects aren’t getting done because they are not “perfect”? (If I waited for perfect, you would never see any new posts on this website!)
Last month, I was so over-scheduled that I let several things slide and spent a couple days on my couch, worrying about all my responsibilities and projects, but not making progress on them. I was on the way to making myself sick by overdoing it. So after allowing myself time on the couch, I got up and made my list. I prioritized my list and then scheduled each task into my week. I took some time out for a chamber music concert, an evening out with friends, a soccer game, and more laying on the couch. This weekend, I accomplished more than I have in three weeks prior, by setting my priorities and making time to care for myself. If you’re a parent, you may not be able to go out or see a concert, but you can take some time to sip some tea, listen to music, or take a nap. Ask for help if you need it, too.
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