Women these days are doing it all… raising kids, working, caring for extended family members, friends and running their household. It is not uncommon for women to talk about how exhausted they are from navigating through all consuming daily demands.

Women will take care of everybody else in the family to ensure they are healthy physically, mentally and emotionally but leave themselves vulnerable to disease, depression and anxiety. Every family member in the household will have a doctor’s appointment including the dog but mom is often canceling or rescheduling their appointments to accommodate someone’s else’s schedule.

Experts report that it is not surprising that women do no take time to care for themselves. Women often feel guilty about taking time for themselves, says psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz. “There is some maternal ideal of being self-sacrificing that just isn’t consistent with having time for yourself,” she said. The key, says Saltz, is for women to recognize the difference between being selfish in a bad way and being selfish in a healthy way. “You have to put on your oxygen mask first,” she says. “If you go to pieces, everyone is going down with you. So you have to give time to yourself. That is healthy, not selfish or narcissistic. That is a tough concept for a lot of women.”

Although there is always a shortage in free time studies show that even taking as little as 15 to 30 minute a day will assist women to decompress. The most effective method for implementing time for you each day is to make it a habit. To be successful you have to know what works for you. Different activities such as exercise, meditation, listening to music or taking a bath can assist with relaxation.

Dr. Janet Taylor, Psychiatrist, suggests a writing exercise for women who struggle on how to get more time for themselves. First, on side of paper list everything you do during the day and then on the other side, list everything you would like to do. Afterwards, compare the two sides and modify your daily routine to include at least one item from the “would like to do” list. “It’s about changing your mindset,” Taylor says. “We have to learn to put ourselves at the top of the to-do list.”

So here is the final thought for today: If you could force yourself to do one thing to take care of yourself more effectively, what would it be? Learn to take care of you before attempting to care for anyone else. Think about the critical nature of the flight attendant message during takeoff. The same holds true for everyday living. Be sure to secure your own health before helping others. To be chronically exhausted, unhappy, frustrated, and distracted is not doing anyone else around you any favors.

So to all those moms out there… Let’s take care of ourselves as well as each other.

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