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Guilt... Don't You Dare!

As women, we often have more demands on our time than our male counterparts. More so now, with the kids at home. Our family responsibilities have changed and not in a manner of self care. We find ourselves trying to live up to expectations that are often unreal and make us miserable.

Even if we work outside the home, women are usually the ones expected to cover most, or even all, of the household responsibilities. If there are children involved, those responsibilities increase exponentially.

With all these demands on our time, and all the people in our lives who need us, many women have a hard time justifying taking time for ourselves. Every time we sit down to read a book or watch an episode of our favorite television show we feel guilty. There are always a million other things we should be doing. This leaves many women feeling guilty every time we do something for ourselves, but why?

In a society where everything is rushed and everyone is constantly moving, it can be easy to feel lazy. Society loves to talk down to people who aren't spending every minute doing something "productive." It's time to change the conversation. Even now, during our 'Stay at Home' orders from our Governors.

When we get more sleep (8-10 hours per night) we function better. Our concentration and our immune system improve. We don't have to drag ourselves through the day. The result? We're more productive.

When we exercise, we're healthier, stronger, able to do more things. It boosts the body's detoxification process, improves immune function, and even helps us sleep better (see above). The result? We're more productive.

At this point it's a well-established fact that getting adequate sleep and exercise are necessary for maintaining our health. So when did they become optional? How did it become a badge of honor for us to neglect doing the very things our body needs to do in order to function properly?

Maybe reading is your thing. Studies have found reading improves cognitive function, empathy, and emotional intelligence. These benefits allow us to help and be there for the people in our lives with an improved ability to listen and understand what they're going through.

If you'd prefer to meditate, there are now a slew of studies on meditation and they're consistently showing significant health benefits, including reduced stress, increased immune function, and increased concentration. The best part about meditation is it can be done anywhere: sitting on the couch, going for a walk, even while taking a bubble bath.

Women are trained to constantly put others before ourselves. This isn't inherently bad. On the contrary it's a beautiful thing that allows us to be the nurturers and caretakers we so often are. But it's not sustainable. At some point we have to count ourselves among the people we need to be taking care of. We have to recognize that we have value and are worthy of some rest and relaxation. In fact, taking that time for ourselves will help enable us to be there for our friends and family in ways we simply can't manage if we're always tired, stressed out, and overworked.

So the next time someone sees us curled up in bed with a book and asks us, "Aren't you going to do something productive?" All we need to say to them is, "I am being productive."

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