When you have no time for self-care
"Once upon a time, there were two woodcutters named Peter and John. They were often at loggerheads over who chopped more wood. So one day, they decided to hold a competition to determine the winner. The rules were simple—whoever produce the most wood in a day wins.
So the next day morning, both of them took up their positions in the forest and started chopping away in their fastest possible speed. This lasted for an hour before Peter suddenly stopped. When John realized that there was no chopping sound from his opponent’s side, he thought: “Ah Ha! He must be tired already!” And he continued to cut down his trees with double the pace.
A quarter of an hour passed, and John heard his opponent chopping again. So both of them carried on synchronously. John was starting to feel weary when the chopping from Peter stopped once again. Feeling motivated and smelling victory close by, John continued on, with a smile on his face.
This went on the whole day. Every hour, Peter would stop chopping for fifteen minutes while John kept going relentlessly. So when the competition ended, John was absolutely confident that he would take the triumph.
But to John’s astonishment, Peter had actually cut down more wood. How did this even happen? “How could you have chopped down more trees than me? I heard you stop working every hour for fifteen minutes!”, exclaimed John.
Peter replied, “Well, it’s really simple. Every time I stopped work, while you were still chopping down trees, I was sharpening my axe.”
Clients often tell me that they have no time to do what we talk about in session as self-care. That it is too hard to fit in meditation, exercise, journaling, therapy, yoga, art, seeing family and friends, cooking nourishing meals (or whatever it is that you do to take care of yourself - tuning into your needs looks different for everyone). There is so little time. It stresses me out. It's expensive. I won't have as much time to work.
I get it. It IS hard. AND I think we can all relate to the woodcutter story above. Think about what happens when you don't engage in self-care, when you don't make yourself a priority. You feel sluggish, exhausted. You don't feel healthy. You are not motivated to do anything. You get distracted, you spend too much time scrolling. don' t feel like you can "get it together." You don't have much to give to others, to your responsibilities, to your work.
I challenge you to make yourself a priority and to see what happens. See what is like to walk around with a sharpened axe. You may find some ripple effects. You are happier, more energetic. You may find that you are more productive and efficient at work, and you don't need to spend as many hours at work. You are more engaged and present with your kids, and they behave better. You feel more connected to your partner. You have the energy to socialize with your friends, and doing so further energizes you. You are more motivated to eat healthier, to exercise.
You can start sharpening your axe today. You can start prioritizing yourself, engaging in self-care, and see what happens. I challenge you to try.