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Tending to Yourself When There’s No Time

You yearn to be productive, to blast through your to-do list every single day. You experiment with all sorts of hacks to attain the ultimate efficiency. If you have kids, you take advantage of their nap time, folding, preparing, putting things back, emailing, writing, working, running. There’s so much running.

No wonder you often end your day feeling out of breath (and out of it).

You yearn to have a tidy house, where every item has a home, and there aren’t piles of unpaid bills on the counter. A pile you’ve been avoiding for a while. All the laundry gets put away, and doesn’t resemble the leaning tower of Pisa on your dryer.

You yearn to be able to subsist on little sleep and a few fancy cups of Starbucks coffee.

You hope not to get sick because you don’t have time for that. So when you feel the soreness in your throat, you ignore it. You continue with your day, blasting through that list, and wake up feeling like there are weights attached to your entire body, sinking you further and further to the floor, further and further through the floor.

You are sick. You are burnt out. You yearn to sit down (and possibly sob). You yearn to watch TV for hours and hours. Yet you don’t. Because there’s life. There’s work. There are responsibilities and errands. And there’s tending to others.

There are always things to do. There will always be things to do. Dishes. Laundry. Lots of laundry. New projects. Unexpected fires to put out.

But “Your needs are not a distraction” (as Mara writes in her gorgeous piece). They are not a distraction from your to-do list. They are not an annoying alarm that you silence or snooze or turn off and then move on to the important things. Your needs are the important things.

Your needs “are teacher guides here to provide you with turning points to truly know and honor yourself. They are opportunities to tend to yourself, and being cared for allows you to create and serve,” Mara writes.

Your needs are windows and doors to a fulfilling life. Your needs are everything from drinking enough water to dreaming of your own business (and making this dream come true). Your needs are everything from getting restful sleep to joining a support group. Your needs are everything from dancing in the morning to making a meal for yourself, even though that means taking a break from playing with your child. (We cannot give from an empty well.)

Delve into your needs. Name them. Explore them. Respect them, and honor them by meeting them.

It often feels like our needs are an interruption, an obstacle. It feels like they hinder our ability to be efficient, to get things done, to move quickly. It feels like they get in the way. Because our needs force us to slow down, to stop.

But our needs are not an interruption from our lives. They are our lives.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash.
Tending to Yourself When There’s No Time

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2017). Tending to Yourself When There’s No Time. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Sep 2017
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