Most of us think of self-care as optional care. In our crazy overscheduled lives, we often do not take the time to take care of ourselves. Exercising, preparing healthy meals, taking time to connect with our family and friends—we all know these help us function at an optimum level, but in all the chaos, they can come to seem like luxuries.
But an old story about a woodsman and a young man illustrates the absurdity of this approach. The woodsman is walking through the woods when he comes across a young man feverishly trying to cut down a tree. The older and wiser woodsman stops and watches for a moment as the young man saws laboriously at the trunk again and again. “That must be a really hard tree,” he comments.
The young man replies, “Nope. I’ll get it down eventually.”
“Why is it taking you so long to cut it down, though?” asks the woodsman. “You’re working so hard.”
“My saw is dull,” comes the answer.
“Why don’t you sharpen your saw?” asks the woodsman.
“Well, you see,” the young man replies, “I don’t have time.”
Many of us feel we don’t have time for self-care, but when we neglect it, we are like that shortsighted young man working with a dull saw. We put off taking care of our own body, mind, and spirit, resulting in our days being far more inefficient and ineffective than if we devoted a little time and effort to improving our health and well-being.
Starting the task of sharpening your saw, so to speak, can be the hardest part, so begin with something small and sustainable. Some people find meditation helpful, others like more movement, and others start by getting more emotional interaction with other human beings. Regardless of what it is that best helps you recharge and be your best, taking care of yourself is not optional—it’s required, and should be scheduled as such.