The Heart Pumps Blood to Itself First

Posted on Jun 5, 2009

Do you ever feel like you don’t stop moving? Some days even the “breaks” I am taking revolve around cleaning up the last activity while my boys move on to the next more captivating adventure. That’s a break? Most days it is. A break is a few minutes of mental downtime while doing a mindless task. I have learned to at least partially recharge from that kind of break. A moment with my feet up and a cup of tea is out of the question. I regroup while I am wiping up the paint that spilled over the edge of the paper while my boys have moved on to building with Legos.

I have determined that I have finally adapted to my new reality, evolved into my increasingly hectic life by gaining momentum. I don’t actually get off the bike to relax. I just stop pedaling and coast for a few minutes and return to pedaling with close to a full effort.

When I examine this new life reality, I need to acknowledge that sometimes you need to get off the bike. The more your life is full of activity, the more time for renewal is necessary. The more you have adapted to recharging on the fly, the more vital it is to give yourself that focused time for renewal. Most likely, it takes some work on your part to arrange for that focused downtime, but it is worth it and absolutely necessary.

If you don’t arrange the time for renewal now, your body and mind will see to it that you do in one way or another. Illness, stress, lack of ability to cope with daily life will slow you down in a hurry and force you to make time for yourself for healing.

It serves us better to have the forethought to give ourselves focused renewal time on a regular basis: a workout, a good book, a massage, a date night, a night out with girlfriends, an early night to bed. This practice is not optional. It is not a luxury! Prioritizing yourself is a challenge, but will allow you maintain your health, emotional well-being and productivity.

Here are a few suggestions for ways you can begin to prioritize your well-being:

  • Let’s start with what may be the most difficult task! Start by affirming to yourself, over and over again, that self-care is not a luxury. It is as necessary to your well-being as the breakfast you ate this morning.
  • Know that you are modeling a healthy lifestyle for your friends and family. Be proud of that!
  • Create an atmosphere of support for your plan. Communicate your to your friends and partner and ask them to keep you honest. Enlist their help for time away from your children if you’re a mama.
  • Do something you love, love, LOVE during this time. Whatever the activity, it should feed your soul.
  • Make some time for an active endeavor. We all know we should get our hearts pumping fives times per week for 30 minutes. You can work some of these sessions in with your friends, children or partner. After the kiddos play at the playground, strap them into the stroller and take a brisk, chatty walk. Instead of meeting a friend for coffee and a pastry, meet for a run or a walk.
  • Always have the date and arrangement for your NEXT activity firmly in your planner: book the sitter, make the appointment or secure the date with your friend now. You will have something to look forward to and motivate you. And it doesn’t fall off your radar screen.
  • Notice how you feel after you have had some time for renewal. Let the feeling of peace be your reward for honoring your spirit. Learn to crave that feeling as motivation for prioritizing yourself.

I once heard that the heart muscle pumps blood to its tissues first before it pumps blood to the rest of the body. On a physiological level, the heart “knows” for the entire body to survive and stay healthy the heart must serve itself first.

You can think of yourself as the heart. If you are not taking care of yourself, you will not have the energy to give what you would like to your family or professional and volunteer commitments. Even better, make treating yourself with the same respect you afford to others in your life your next adaptation to your new reality.